Resigned MP statement on opposition suspension of dialogue participation

BJDM has received the following statement from Ali Alaswad, resigned Bahraini MP, on the decision of the opposition to suspend their involvement with the dialogue for 2 weeks:

“It should be noted that in the original announcement of dialogue in January, the opposition warmly welcomed the proposal and we had high hopes that it would be a useful starting point to move the country forwards to a political solution. We have long supported the notion of dialogue to end the crisis and therefore were pleased it was back on the agenda. Our vision was that an equally balanced negotiation between the authorities and the opposition would be the best solution for Bahrain.

Sadly, this vision has not materialised and after more than 3 months of meetings we can conclude that the authorities are not yet serious about dialogue. The continuation of repression, the peak of which was the raid on the home of Sheikh Issa Qassim, tell us that the authorities do not intend to use the dialogue as a springboard for change. On the contrary we believe it is being used to maintain the status-quo, whilst giving the appearance of listening to differing views. To make it clear, we did not join this dialogue to provide legitimacy to the Government. We did so with the benefit of all of Bahrain in mind, both in the long term and the immediate.

In the period since the end of the Formula 1 Grand Prix, Bahrain has been experiencing a renewed crackdown against the opposition. This has included a massive increase in terrifying house raids, mass arrests, draconian sentencing of opposition activists, a halting of cases against police officers, banning of protests and a number of other measures that have continued the security policy of the authorities. Internationally Bahrain has failed to deliver on promises made, notably the withdrawal of the invitation to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture.

This is not the atmosphere within which a dialogue can take place. Whilst we understand that long-term change and reform will take time and will be part of the dialogue process, the human rights abuses must stop with immediate effect. Bahrain has already signed up to implementation of the BICI and UPR recommendations and therefore this is non-negotiable. The main challenge for Bahrain is rebuilding the broken trust between the authorities and the people and the continuation of security procedures only makes this process harder.

Furthermore the actions inside the dialogue have done nothing to spark confidence and have only confirmed our fears that the authorities are not serious. They have continued to reject the involvement of the King, or his representatives, rejected the call for allowing the people to have a say through a referendum, and have designed the participants to ensure opposition voices are in a minority. The current state of the dialogue cannot even be described as a functioning dialogue and instead is merely a preliminary stage to agree on the processes. An agreement that has not been reached due to the regular rejection of the oppositions ideas and beliefs.

We have endured this reality for more than 3 months and are therefore now giving the authorities an opportunity to prove how serious they really are in making this dialogue work for the good of Bahrain. They should do this by putting an end to the daily repression that Bahraini people are suffering from and engage fully in the dialogue.

The opposition is 100% committed to a serious dialogue. We will happily sit at a table with anyone who wants to move Bahrain out of this impasse but we will not be used to legitimise something that is not legitimate. We are calling on the authorities to take our suspension as a clear indication of this and begin to put Bahrain back on the path of stability.”

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