Sheikh Maytham Al-Salman to Attend UNHRC Session in Geneva, Warns of Bahrainis Losing Hope for ďPeaceful ReconciliationĒ amid Repression

2017-04-27 - 4:06 am

Bahrain Mirror: Leading Bahraini human rights campaigner and Shiite cleric Sheikh Maytham al-Salman warned that civilians could lose hope for "peaceful reconciliation" if the government refuses to halt its crackdown on dissent, as the last major opposition party in the kingdom faces closure, reported Alex MacDonald in a Middle East Eye (MEE) article.

"In countries where freedom of expression is restricted, where there is political, social and economic exclusion for the majority of the population, where there is no space for civil society, obviously the frustration levels grow," said Maytham al-Salman, speaking to Middle East Eye in London.

Sheikh Maytham, who is a prominent Bahraini religious leader and serves on a committee of the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect, said that he would be travelling from the UK to speak at the United Nations Human Rights Council (OHCHR) universal periodic review at the Hague, a session reviewing what actions have been taken by individual states to improve the human rights situation in their countries. Although he would be attending, al-Salman expressed concern about the travel restrictions placed on other Bahraini activists trying to get to the Hague.

"We had 47 attendees who participated in the last meeting from Bahrain," he pointed out. "I do not believe even one or two independent human rights defenders will be allowed to travel to the next meeting," and "it shows ... how things have gotten worse in Bahrain from 2012 to 2017."

Maytham's comments come as the Bahrain public prosecutor summoned 12 leading opposition figures and human rights activists for investigation, while a number of others faced travel bans, while plans are also underway to dissolve the National Democratic Action Society (Wa'ad), the main left-wing secular opposition organisation in the kingdom.

The MEE noted that al-Salman has himself faced repeated pressure from the Bahraini authorities, as he previously was the subject of a travel ban and was charged with "illegal gathering" in relation to the open-ended sit-in in Duraz. The article further read  that though he plans to return to Bahrain after speaking at the UN, he suspected he would face similar threats to other government critics.

"I have been very vocal in denouncing all forms of violence and excessive use of force by authorities," he said. "So after more than a year with a travel ban and with all these harassments, it's a logical conclusion to know that the moment I step back into Bahrain a new travel ban will be imposed on me if I'm not held in prison like my cousin Nabeel Rajab," Sheikh Maytham al-Salman stressed.

Al-Salman stressed that when a country has a high frustration level, it's very likely to see incidents of violence and in order to counter violence and to counter messages which could provoke violence, one of the best strategies is to try to defuse frustration. He; however, stated that "frustration cannot be defused when you have 65 percent of the religious demography in Bahrain who feel they are fourth-class citizens rather than being citizens with equal rights."

,He further acknowledged that with so much of the opposition in prison or marginalised, the situation looked bleak. "It is very hard at this moment to see something approaching" that could break the current deadlock," he said.

Arabic version



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