Qatar: Bahrain will not keep reform promise, Doha Debates votes

By Francesca Astorri
Doha: Doha Debates yesterday put the spotlight on Bahrain with an animated audience at Georgetown University in Doha  voting 78 percent in favour of the motion "This house has no confidence in Bahrain's promise to reform."
The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) stated in its report that 35 people were killed in Bahrain since February 5, citizens were tortured while in custody, 700 are still detained and hundreds injured.
This is the last dark bulletin on which Nabeel Rajab, President of Bahrain Center for Human Rights, bases his distrust of the government.
"We have been fighting always for the same demands during the past 80 years: social justice, democracy and freedom," said Rajab, stating that the regime promised reforms, but delivered torture and human rights violations.
"This is why I believe that the government is responsible for all these crimes against humanity is not capable of carrying out any reform," he added.

On the other hand Khaled Al Maeena, former Editor-in-Chief of Saudi-owned Arab News, is convinced that the government will go ahead with the reforms as there are no alternatives for its survival.

"Reform is a process, not a remedy," said Al Maeena.

"Reform is not an option or a choice, it's a necessity," he added, supported by Abdulla Al Derazi, Member of the Government Commission set up to respond to BICI, which stated that a king that had enough courage to undertake a reforms process in 2001 will be courageous enough now to introduce more reforms.
"Why should I trust the government?," asked Dr Ala' a Shehabi, an activist whose husband was arrested in April and is still detained in Bahrain.
Al Derazi responded with a number of "shoulds': the government should drop all charges against the protesters, should free the prisoners, should give back the jobs to the people that were fired for political reasons... in this list of theoretical "shoulds" there is one that came out after one hour discussion that surprised the audience.

"The Prime Minister should go" said Al Derazi, demonstrating that even the representatives of the government believe that no true reforms are possible without getting rid of the present ruling class that has been there for over 40 years.

As pointed out by Christopher Davidson, Reader in Middle East Politics at the School of Government and International Affairs at Durham University, the protests started not to urge the king to leave, but only to carry out reforms: the status of the king was not under discussion at the beginning as it is right now after months of violence perpetrated by the police.
Davidson stated that it's an insult to our intelligence to expect that the same small ruling family in Bahrain is capable of reforms after the violence perpetrated in the country.
"The speed of awareness in the region is going up rapidly," Rajab said.


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