Posted on May 15, 2013 in Articles | 0 comments
Is the opposition joking this time? A charity belonging to Prince Charles of Great Britain has signed a deal to build 4,000 homes for the poorest communities in Bahrain – and Al-Wefaq Islamic Society attacks him for it!
One of the obvious legitimate grievances of poorer communities in Bahrain is the lack of cheap housing. A major area of investment for the Bahraini Government over the past two years has been in housing projects to address this need.
Yet Al-Wefaq doesn’t seem concerned by the interests of its own constituency, choosing to make the bizarre and inexplicable statement that building homes for poor Bahrainis gives a “green light” to human rights abuses.
A few weeks ago we heard Bahrain’s opposition making a similar fuss about a Scottish initiative to support education in Bahrain: Apparently funding efforts to improve the education of Bahraini children meant “trampling over the people’s human rights”.
The head of Al-Wefaq Islamic Society, Shaikh Ali Salman, recently announced his intention to continue protests, rioting, boycotts and strikes until the 2014 Parliamentary elections and beyond – in spite of the ongoing National Dialogue process. The implication of this is not only that Al-Wefaq seeks to strike down all housing, education and development initiatives – but that they want to obstruct all such activity for the developement of Bahrain indefinitely.
Prince Charles has been accused by Al-Wefaq of lending credibility to the Bahraini Government. If they mean that Prince Charles is better-enabling Bahrain’s leaders to act for the wellbeing of ordinary Bahrainis, then this criticism is absolutely right.
Bahrain’s leaders should be building homes, providing services, improving education, creating jobs and improving the welfare of all Bahrainis. If they succeed then they deserve credibility and respect – and they will have achieved a good deal more than many governments across the region. Unfortunately, Al-Wefaq wants the Government to fail, and therefore any individual or organization providing services or assistance to Bahrain is branded an ‘enemy of Bahrain’.
There is only one logical way in which Al-Wefaq’s statement can be understood: They actually want to make things worse for their own supporters – they want things to get so bad that they make a revolutionary situation inevitable.
We see plenty of evidence of this already: Attractive traditional areas of Bahrain have been turned into war zones: roadsides completely burnt out by weekly tyre-burning; walls defaced by graffiti; the air polluted by molotovs and tear gas; businesses closed due to continual strikes and self-imposed sieges. You can understand why people are angry in these areas, because they are living in a scene from hell – made worse by continual rioting. This is perfect for Al-Wefaq and other extremist groups because they are creating a ripe situation for social unrest and violence.
Has anybody calculated how much money is wasted in managing the security situation and cleaning up after riots; how much money is lost through economic stagnation in areas of unrest; how much the interests of Bahrainis are damaged by police and local authorities managing the ongoing crisis rather than spending their time serving the public? By continuing the unrest and keeping the resources of the state tied up in this way Al-Wefaq is further ensuring that tens of millions of dollars are not being spent for the developement of Bahrain.
By building tens of thousands of homes and making life better for people, immediately this solves many of the reasons for dissatisfaction of these communities: Young families can move into sparkling new homes, providing an attractive and pleasant environment for their children and creating a climate of hope.
Extremists within Al-Wefaq don’t want this. It doesn’t suit their agenda for ordinary Bahrainis to be happy, content and enjoying better lives – they want to keep their constituents in burning hell holes so that they can profit from the anger, social disappointment and revolutionary aspirations.
Luckily we now have two Crown Princes who have Bahrain’s best interests at heart; we have Prince Salman Al Khalifa, whose work on the Economic Development Board and Vision 2030 has created, jobs, hope and economic prospects for tens of thousands of Bahrainis, as well as spearheading National Dialogue and reconciliation.
However, we can also be grateful to Prince Charles for being willing to invest in Bahrain and support urban development and providing homes for thousands of families. This is truly a good thing he is doing for Bahrain, and even Bahrainis who have little sympathy for their government will have good reasons to appreciate Prince Charles’ role in improving their lives.
We hope that these Bahrainis will come to realize that those building homes, developing education, creating jobs and improving services are working for them and deserve their support – those advocating violence, revolution and social chaos do not.
Posted on May 15, 2013 in Articles | 0 comments
15 May, 2013
The Leader of oppositionist Al-Wefaq Islamic Society, Ali Salman, on 12 May made a speech at a religious gathering in Samaheej. Here we look at some of the language of this speech and the implications in the context of the ongoing National Dialogue:
“This is a struggle between good and bad”
What does Shaikh Ali Salman mean by this? Are opponents of the Monarchy therefore good and supporters of the Monarchy bad? Portraying the political system as a struggle between good and evil indicates a fundamentalist and extremist worldview, and the political sophistication of the average six-year old.
“…between those who want justice and those who want to entrench dictatorship”
Shaikh Ali Salman ignores the vast majority of Bahrainis who support a reformed Constitutional Monarchy, but oppose violent revolution. Here he is using exactly the same language as Ayatollah Khomeini before the 1979 Iranian revolution.
“We will boycott the 2014 elections “unless the people obtain their rights”
Democracy is about participating in Parliament in order to represent the interests of your constituency – not trying to destroy the Parliamentary process or hold the political system hostage to inflexible demands.
A further two years or more of political instability will do terrible harm to Bahrain and will further divide our society – does Shaikh Ali Salman really want this? Why not even a mention of addressing these issues through National Dialogue?
“Come and agree on something that will satisfy the Bahraini nation… There is no alternative to total change. Bahrain can’t end this revolution through violence and political maneuvering.”
Shaikh Ali Salman does not represent the Bahraini people. He does not reject the vast majority of middle classes, liberals, Sunnis, residents, educated and secular Bahrainis – or anybody outside his narrowing constituency. He implies that anyone who doesn’t agree with him doesn’t deserve to have a voice and can be conveniently ignored.
He still talks of revolution and destroying the current political system in its entirety and refuses to talk positively about any kind of reform process.
“Sadly the Government rejects the ideas proposed by the opposition”
Who has rejected what? There is a process of dialogue ongoing and everything is on the table. Al-Wefaq won’t obtain everything it wants, but neither will the Government. This is called “compromise” and “flexibility” – neither of which Shaikh Ali Salman seems particularly well acquainted with.
“The Government tried to laugh at the international community when it proposed dialogue”
Again, Shaikh Ali Salman views dialogue, debate and consensus in a highly negative way. By engaging in dialogue, commissioning the BICI and engaging in a reform process, the Bahraini Government behaved in a very different way to the leaderships of Syria, Libya, Egypt and Yemen which tried to kill themselves out of trouble. Shaikh Ali Salman should not treat dialogue and reform as something shameful.
“The Bahraini population demanding change constitutes a majority”
As we said above – although most Bahrainis support reform – the vast majority reject Shaikh Ali Salman’s objective of forcing revolution and an Islamic republic on Bahrain through continuing street agitation.
Ali Salman’s views are highly illiberal and anti-democratic in first claiming to represent a majority view – and then asserting that he can impose his vision on everybody else who rejects his way of thinking. Shaikh Ali Salman talks about democracy but really seeks tyranny of one segment over all other parts of society.
“We are not looking to gain the Prime Ministerial position”
It is a relief to see that Shaikh Ali Salman has given up his pretentions to be Bahrain’s next Prime Minister – or he says he has.
Posted on May 7, 2013 in Articles | 0 comments
By – Rayyah Fathallah
Let’s say very clearly what most people in Bahrain have taken for granted for some time: There is no such thing as the February 14th Youth Movement. Such entities have no physical, official or practical existence – beyond being brand names on Twitter and Facebook sites. The Bahrain protest movement is not some complex many-headed snake – if we want to talk about Bahrain’s opposition there is only Al-Wefaq Islamic Society.
Two years in to Bahrain’s unrest, can anybody name a single member, spokesperson or leading figure of any of these groups, which supposedly well-informed correspondents from the global media talk about in hushed tones?
These mythical beasts which Al-Wefaq tries to frighten us with serve multiple useful purposes:
When there are outbreaks of violent rioting or police are murdered, the leadership of Al-Wefaq can sit back innocently, and say: “It wasn’t us. It was those radical kids from the 14 Feb Allied Coalition”.
When Al-Wefaq do us all the honour of attending the National Dialogue, they tell us that they can’t possibly make any concessions or compromises “because those crazy militants from the United 14th February Allied Front won’t accept anything less than wholesale revolution”.
When Shaikh Ali Salman and Khalil Marzouq talk to the media about the terrible damage that has been done to Bahrain through firebombs, vandalism, terrorism and sabotage; they can laugh it all off and say that none of this was their fault because the Youth of the 14th February Revolutionaries are totally out of their control.
When security personnel were murdered and mutilated after Ayatollah Isa Qassim incited his listeners to “crush” the police; Al-Wefaq can tell us with a straight face that it’s not the fault of the religious leadership if the unwashed ignorant crowds from the 14 February Militant Youth Society can’t understand a simple fatwa.
In short, the 14 Feb Youth – or whatever they want to call themselves on any given day – allow Al-Wefaq to play the game of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: All acts of terrorism, crime and gangsterism being blamed on 14 February mobsters.
When Al-Wefaq decided to join the game of parliamentary politics in the last decade, they pulled off a similar optical illusion by allowing the rejectionist and extra-parliamentary elements within their constituencies to be mopped up by the Haq Movement. So whenever Al-Wefaq failed to force other parts of Parliament to cave-in to their demands, they sent out nasty Mr. Mushaima and his Al-Haq militants to burn tyres, throw molotovs and bring Bahrain to a standstill.
The balance of power in the centres of unrest in Bahrain is very clear: Whether it be in Sitra, Sanabis or Al-Eker, the local Al-Wefaq official holds sway on all issues that matter. The unrest has allowed Al-Wefaq to consolidate their power in a way they never had before.
It is the increasingly extremist religious leadership who through Al-Wefaq hold these communities in the palm of their hands. The word of Ayatollah Qasim is law in these villages which have become no-go zones where the police and public officials fear to step.
It is the local Al-Wefaq official who says whether a particular shop should be firebombed for opening during a strike day. The same figure directs 12 year-olds to build roadblocks, women to prepare firebombs and the whole community to go on the rampage – no exceptions!
It has been striking that recent protest days have been increasingly prepared like military operations; with substantial quantities of road-blocking materials being delivered by trucks all around Bahrain at the crack of dawn, and contingents of young people manning barricades and brandishing weapons with which to attack the police.
When all these areas of Bahrain mobilize at exactly the same time in the same manner, these are not ad-hoc youth groups; these are not anonymous cyber-activists; this is Al-Wefaq distributing funds, preparing its forces and giving out the order to attack.
The February 14 Movement is nothing more than a mask, exactly like the Guy Fawkes V-for-Vendetta masks that the authorities foolishly tried to ban.
Although journalists and others who should know better continue to fall for this ploy, writing naïve analyses about the “shadowy and mysterious Coalition of 14 February Movement”, this mask fools no-one. Nobody in Bahrain talks about these groups, they talk about Al-Wefaq, because everybody knows that ultimately the decision of whether to fight or talk rests with Ali Salman, Ayatollah Qassim and their likes.
Unfortunately Shaikh Ali Salman believes that he can both fight and talk at the same time, and that to do so will gain him further concessions towards his ambition of becoming the President of the Islamic Republic of Bahrain, with Ayatollah Qassim as his supreme leader.
Let us all thank God that such a fate can never befall us.
Posted on May 5, 2013 in Articles | 0 comments
5 May 2013
To many self-styled media commentators, any kind of critique of absolute freedom of expression is completely indefensible.
Therefore, when a Citizens for Bahrain article was posted on World Press Freedom Day, which didn’t follow the pack in saying that total press freedom is always a wonderful thing – we were instantly attacked by a whole range of people. Many of these critics only heard what we’d said from a few words on Twitter and instantly decided that we were a bunch of pro-Government thugs.
As is always the case; the reality is always a little more complicated. The central point that the Citizens for Bahrain writer was trying to make was that at a time of civil conflict, unconstrained media attacks and incitement from all sides can make a bad situation far worse and makes national reconciliation very difficult.
Far from being an unquestioning pro-Government mouthpiece, you can go back and see that our harshest criticism was reserved for the pro-Government mouthpieces: State TV and other loyalist media outlets.
However, in the tense and fraught atmosphere in Bahrain during March 2011 all parties were guilty of using media outlets – including the social media – to wage hate campaigns, destroy reputations and stir up sectarian tensions.
- When Iran-sponsored TV channels beamed into Bahrain stir up hostility and incite violence – is this the kind of press freedom that we want to be defending?
- When Bahraini state TV live on air denounces various personalities who allegedly backed the opposition – is this the freedom of expression that we’d like to be seeing more of?
- When opposition social media outlets and leaflets threaten kids that they’ll “suffer the consequences if they attend school on a strike day” – do we support the right of these thugs to freely threaten our children?
- When Sunni extremists denounce Shia as “filthy infidels”, “traitors” and “enemies of Islam” – is this the kind of freedom of expression, which deserves to be protected and cultivated in a civilized society?
- When graffiti on walls across Bahrain calls for the murder of the country’s leadership – is the exercise of a right to call for “Death to Al Khalifa [the ruling family]” a healthy sign of greater freedoms in Bahrain?
Let’s be clear about this: Citizens for Bahrain fully supports freedom of expression and freedom of the press. However, we are not freedom of expression ‘absolutists’: Hate speech, incitement to violence, ruining the reputations of private individuals, sectarian insults and attacks on people’s religious beliefs are not part of any freedom of expression that we know of.
We protect true freedom of expression by outlawing practices which undermine this fundamental human right. In most developed societies libel laws and other sophisticated pieces of legislation exist to do precisely this: Protecting freedom of expression while criminalizing abuses of this freedom.
Citizens for Bahrain does not just support the right to criticize those in power, we exercise this right in many of our publically available articles. However, when we criticize political figures and organizations, we are careful to avoid unsubstantiated allegations, lies, insults and offensive language. This is not self-censorship but an attempt to abide by values that the majority of those in journalism naturally abide by (to varying degrees).
During February and March 2011 we lived through a period when civil order came close to collapsing altogether and sectarian conflict began to take hold – a truly terrifying experience for all parts of Bahraini society. This period was made far worse by media attacks; incitement by Mosque preachers; threatening graffiti; and attacks through the social media.
We disagree with voices who say that as a result the Government must regulate the Internet and curtail the media – this would be bad for our society.
However, for our society to exist as a society, every free and open debate needs to have some ground-rules to prevent us from being at each other’s throats. Those who sit down as part of a debate and start throwing around insults, lies and threats aren’t a welcome part of any debate anywhere in the world.
Such ground-rules are the pre-requisites for facilitating free debate and giving people the confidence to express their honest opinions without fearing that they will be murdered by vigilantes – or locked up by an intolerant leader.
Bahrain is now going through a process of National Dialogue which must be followed up by a process of national reconciliation. Part of that reconciliation is a social contract recognizing that we must all live together in this country: Shia, Sunnis and non-Muslims are all equally Bahraini – we must respect each other and celebrate the diversity which makes Bahrain what it is.
Libelous insults and incitement to violence can be handled by the courts, but such regal recourses are only effective when 98% of citizens recognize and respect each other and thus voluntarily refrain from these abuses of freedom of expression. Those same abuses which make honest and fruitful freedom of expression difficult or impossible.
Posted on May 4, 2013 in Articles | 0 comments
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom has just issued a very informative report following a fact-finding visit to the Kingdom. The USCIRF’s report spoke favourably about implementation of measures to address religious freedom shortcomings, while noting that more needed to be done.
The USCIRF stressed that Bahrain religious minorities enjoy greater rights and freedoms than almost anywhere else in the region. The report noted progress in returning around 98% of those fired from their jobs back to work and the reinstatement of students to university courses; measures against security personnel accused of abuses; as well as the rebuilding of a number of the illegally build mosques which were demolished during the unrest.
However, Citizens for Bahrain would agree with a number of the outstanding criticisms in the report:
- Sectarian tensions have risen significantly and there is a very dangerous culture of impunity for sectarian insults from both sides, making reconciliation very difficult. Sectarian rhetoric in the media is unforgivable.
- Although the protest movement is almost entirely Shia and led by Shia clerics; it is always wrong to demonize the Shia community or address political problems from a religious context.
- Although the Government can legitimately claim that the demolished Mosques were built illegally; taking measures against these Mosques at the height of the 2011 crisis was counter-productive and damaging for community relations.
We look below at some of the most interesting findings from the USCIRF report, including an in-depth examination of progress on the Mosques issue.
Religious diversity and freedoms
“Compared to other countries in the region, Bahrain is among the most tolerant of non-Muslim religious minority communities. The government officially recognizes several Christian denominations, a tiny Jewish community, Hindus, Sikhs, and a Baha’i community. The Catholic Church is in the process of building a church on a land donated by King Hamad and other communities have public worship facilities.”
“All Bahrainis interviewed during the visit—including governmental and non-governmental interlocutors—described Bahraini society as historically tolerant of all faiths and religiously pluralistic.”
“Since the 2011 unrest, sectarian tension and polarization has risen dramatically. Many of USCIRF’s interlocutors, who came from various perspectives, could not envision a positive outcome or possible resolution to the political stalemate between the government and Shia opposition. Some asserted that the only way forward was through genuine dialogue without any preconditions.”
The report noted “increased rhetoric from official media outlets inflaming sectarian tensions and demonizing the Shia Muslim population.”
The report also noted that when security forces raided Shia homes to detain suspects involved in rioting and violence “this practice often was accompanied by sectarian insults and verbal abuse.”
“During USCIRF’s visit, there were two competing narratives that dominated. The first narrative reflects the government perspective and those sympathetic to the government: opposition Shia activists and protestors are emboldened and supported by the Iranian government and are trying to create chaos and instability in the country by rioting and demonstrating in the streets, including by committing violent acts. The second narrative reflects the predominantly Shia majority and opposition movement: the government has committed serious human rights abuses on opposition demonstrators over the past two years, primarily against the Shia community and opposition groups, and it is not willing to make genuine political reforms.”
The report discussed some of the reforms being implemented in response to the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry recommendations:
- “The vast majority of the more than 4,000 Shia workers in the public and private sectors who were dismissed from jobs have been reinstated, although some were either demoted or reassigned to lower-level jobs.”
- “The majority of the Shia university students who were expelled from universities have been reinstated.”
- “The government asserted that as many as 120 Bahraini security officials and police are being investigated or tried and approximately 18-20 are in jail.”
“Members of the Shia community still cannot serve in the active military, only in administrative positions, and there are no Shia in the upper levels of the Bahrain government security apparatus, including the military and police.”
CfB comment: This is incorrect. There are no laws preventing Shia joining the military, and many Shia personnel are in active service, including senior and high profile figures; although the relatively lower numbers of Shia is a significant grievance.
The current crisis has complicated this matter, because in the eyes of many loyalists, large numbers of Shia have given their support for a violent uprising with revolutionary aspirations. Consequently, they are nervous about a large Shia presence in the security forces, and this barrier of mistrust needs to be addressed.
Citizens for Bahrain’s view is that a sensible solution would be official commitment to gradual increases in recruitment from all currently under-represented communities. This should not be done suddenly in a way that may further inflame sectarian tensions – while bringing Bahrain’s military in to line with the “equality” enshrined in King Hamad’s National Action Charter.
“Government officials claimed that the reconstruction of at least seven mosques was complete or almost complete, and others were in the process of, or being planned for, reconstruction. The Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs stated that several million dollars had been allotted for reconstruction of mosques. The USCIRF delegation visited four sites where Shia mosques were being reconstructed. At three of the locations, construction was nearly complete. At the fourth location, the destroyed mosque was right off a major highway, and the government said it would build the mosque about 200 meters off the highway so that it would not be a safety hazard. The government stated that progress was being made to regularize the status of all unlicensed Shia religious structures. The report identified 30 mosques, which were in various stages of being constructed, obtaining permits, or seeking approval.”
CfB view: One of the worst mistakes of the 2011 unrest was demolishing religious buildings. The Government is technically right that many of these buildings were built illegally at deliberately provocative locations; encroaching on major routes, or several hastily-built structures built with the aim of laying possession to a plot – however, dismantling some of these structures at a time of heightened social tension was designed to be equally provocative and inevitably fueled anger.
It is good to see the Government taking steps to find ways of legalizing and rebuilding some of these structures, including finding creative approaches to rebuilding these places of worship in less-obstructive and less-controversial areas.
Posted on Apr 29, 2013 in Articles | 0 comments
Although Egypt is in a state of political turmoil and Syria continues to bleed; one of the worst escalations in violence and unrest in recent weeks has been in Iraq. Tens of thousands of Sunni protesters continue to challenge Iraqi security forces and there have been dozens of fatalities. Iraq’s current descent towards civil war illustrates perfectly a number of important lessons that other countries in the region should strive to avoid.
Fragmentation of society along sectarian lines
In the years after 2003 tens of thousands of Iraqis died in sectarian conflict. Once again these sectarian divisions are reopening with hundreds of thousands of Sunnis protesting against Shia hegemony and several hundred deaths in recent bouts of sectarian violence. Iraq was not always this way: In the recent past Iraqi Sunni and Shia intermarried, coexisted and were often paid little attention to sectarian differences.
Abuse of democratic principles
After 2003, democratic principles were enshrined in Iraq’s constitution. But ten years later nobody would look at Iraq’s political model as one to be emulated. After years of dirty sectarian politics and political mismanagement, democracy has been undermined in the eyes of Iraqis. In the recent elections only 33% of Baghdadis bothered to go to the polls. These elections only took place in 12 of the 18 provinces; with several Sunni provinces unable to vote due to the security situation.
Many now view Iraq’s Government as being a mere proxy for Iran. Iraq’s foreign policy seems unnervingly close to that of Iran, including Iraq’s shameful silence about mass-murder by the Syrian regime. One can blame Iran’s dominance on a failure of Arab leadership to support independent Iraqis in securing their nation’s sovereignty.
Extremists attacking culture and individual rights
Post-Saddam Iraq is a less tolerant place for women, where sporadic attacks by extremists forced many women to cover up. There have been dozens of murders of homosexuals, allegedly condoned by the authorities. Over half of Iraq’s Christian population now lives in exile after suffering terribly from terrorist violence.
Iraq during much of the 20th century was esteemed as a progressive, liberal and educated society – in all respects Iraq has gone backwards. Iraq has just suspended broadcasting licensing from 10 media outlets which gives little hope for the future direction of freedom of expression.
Citizens terrorized by violence
Nearly 500 people were killed in violence during March – double the total for this time last year. In the village of Hawija, close to Kirkuk, almost 50 people were killed in one day, and 26 two days later in Suleiman Beg. During recent elections, 14 candidates were murdered, most of them Sunnis.
Corruption and governmental paralysis
Billions of dollars have been stolen from Iraq’s national wealth and most Iraqis still don’t have a reliable electricity supply in one of the most oil-rich countries on the planet. Government based on sectarian interests means that little attention is given to basic services or the public good. Numerous ministers have walked out of Government. Only 11 of 35 ministerial positions are occupied. Al-Maliki is not only prime minister, but also defense and interior minister.
In short, the experiment at democratization in Iraq has been a disaster for Iraqis and for the region. The reasons for this are complex, but one reason is that democratization occurred in an imposed and ‘undemocratic’ manner, which destroyed Iraqi society and worsened sectarian fragmentation. We have argued elsewhere that this is not a failure of democracy, but rather a failure to build the institutions of democracy in a way that underpinned the values of democracy.
The result has been a parody of democracy, which has disastrously undermined the very idea of democracy in the minds of many Iraqis – with consequences that may take years to fully play out.
Posted on Apr 25, 2013 in Articles | 0 comments
25 April 2013
Postponing the UN special rapporteur on torture will only attract increased criticism against Bahrain – better to facilitate his entry and prove that there is nothing to hide.
Heavily unbalanced recent reports by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch which ignored recent reforms – after both groups had been granted unparalleled access to officials and detainees – may have led some figures to believe that cooperating with such human rights bodies was counter-productive.
However, in the eyes of most of the world, a state that does not cooperate fully with human rights representatives automatically becomes subject to doubts and accusations. Bahrain cannot afford to put itself in such a category – particularly when we have much to be proud of in our recent reform record.
At the same time, human rights entities must recognize that transforming the human rights situation and fully implementing the rule of law at a time of national crisis is not an easy thing to accomplish. Bahrain is not moving forward as rapidly as it could, but it is also true that things are progressing much more significantly than has been recognized.
The King of Bahrain has repeatedly committed this country to implementing reform and modernizing the institutions of this country to become fairer, more representative and more accountable. To continue this process Bahrain needs constructive encouragement, to ensure that those figures within Bahrain’s leadership who believe in these values continue in the ascendancy and the benefits of remaining on this path become clear to all.
Thus we call on Bahrain’s leaders to continue going the extra mile in opening this country up to international scrutiny; but we also request from human rights bodies and the media to engage constructively with Bahrain, acknowledge positive developments and not slip into habits of automatic criticism and negativity.