Depoliticizing Bahrain's Uprising: The Rhetoric of Human Rights | NGOs in Human Rights, Peace and Development |


The BICI report established that Bahrain is facing huge and real challenges. Its findings revealed that gross human rights violations were systematic and based on a particular training pattern received by those responsible for the implementation of the law. The report also found that senior members of the Bahraini regime had ordered these transgressions. Essentially, the inquiry disclosed that the violations were carried out:

With similar methods at different interrogation centers. Torture—at times leading to fatalities—arbitraryarrests, beatings, verbal abuse, and looting of property were common practices;During a lengthy time period spanning February to June 2011; and,Against a wide range of targets, as it affected thousands of people and most of the areas inhabited by the opposition and the Shia majority. The violations also included arbitrary dismissal of workers, the demolition of mosques, and incitement and spread of terror by the local official media.

All this confirmed that Bahrain was facing unusual challenges. Yet for the last thirteen months, the debate has remained centered on determining “the nature” of these challenges as opposed to actively addressing the source of the problem: the complex political system itself. Framing the violations of the last two years solely within a human rights lens de-politicizes the concerted anti-revolution strategies of the regime and its allies while reinforcing the view that reform and dialogue are the way forward. The regime can thus easily address the human rights perspective through adequate police training, improving the conditions of detention, and punishing discrimination against Shia citizens. Tackling the “political crisis” in Bahrain, however, would require a complete restructuring of the entire ruling infrastructure based on ideals of the 14 February Revolution, namely, equality, social justice, and democratic political participation, all of which the regime has and will continue to fight tooth and nail.

These institutional transformations necessarily extend to the furthest reaches of the executive bodies in the state. Indeed, for the full implementation of the Bassiouni recommendations, this restructuring must include:

Nationalizing the security apparatus by eliminating its dependency on foreign mercenaries and opening it up to all Bahraini nationals regardless of sect, gender, political affiliation, etc. and in the process forging a more unitary notion of citizenship;Reforming the intelligence bodies and implementing safeguards to guarantee their operation within the provisions of the Constitution;Developing an impartial and functional judiciary system;Eliminating the control of the royal family over the national media; and,Most importantly, working to remove the army from politics and reorient its mission toward the defense of the country and not the rule of the Khalifa family.....

Via Spencer Haskins