In light of the Bahraini authorities' recently adopted escalatory security methods, the country's political opposition announced yesterday [Sept. 18] that they are indefinitely suspending their participation in the national dialogue, saying that this decision will be subject to continuous review in light of the political and security developments in the country.
The association called on the international community to exercise its moral and international obligations toward human rights, which are witnessing mounting violations with deterrence, and held the regime responsible for the dialogue’s failure and for raising the country's political and sectarian tensions.
The move comes a day after authorities arrested the political assistant of al-Wefaq's secretary-general, Khalil Marzouq. He is under arrest pending investigation for the crime of inciting terrorism. In addition, the government is pressuring the religious authority Sheikh Hussein Najati to leave the country after he was stripped of his citizenship in October 2012. The government has also sued the Shiite Jurisprudence Council as a prelude to closing it down.
In an interview with As-Safir, the secretary-general of the Progressive Democratic Forum Society, Abdul Nabi Salman, said, “Due to the worsening security situation in Bahrain, we in the opposition deplore the irresponsible reactions by some in the government. What is happening is an attempt by the government to express its continued frustration with the condemnations it has received during the Geneva sessions in recent days by more than 47 countries, including its allies such as America, Britain and other influential countries. The opposition already presented an initiative, when the dialogue resumed near the end of August, to calm the atmosphere and the political environment in the country, but the government responded with more trials, arrests and rights violations.”
Salman described the regime’s actions as “having no long-term vision or the minimum of responsibility to get Bahrain out of the current political and constitutional crisis. The opposition considers dialogue to be a strategic choice if the regime changes its approach. Otherwise, [the dialogue’s] continuation will only encourage the government to stick to its methods, especially as the opposition has given itself and the dialogue an opportunity that lasted seven months, during which we have endured the government’s errors.”
Salman said, “It is time to say to this regime and to the world and to our people that we still consider dialogue to be a strategic option, provided that the government presents an initiative for a comprehensive political solution. We are not setting conditions, but we demand an initiative and a political project.”
As a reaction from the pro-government political associations, the representative of the Fateh associations Ahmed Sanad al-Benali said that the three parties at the dialogue table (the government, the pro-government associations and parliament) wish to continue the dialogue even after the opposition suspended its participation, stressing that the opposition parties reject the method being used and that the dialogue will not be effective that way.
Benali asserted, “No single side should be allowed to control the dialogue’s fate.” He called on the dialogue sessions to be held without the opposition associations. He added, “After [the opposition’s] continuous absence from the dialogue, [the dialogue] should be reconsidered because the dialogue should affect the [mood of the] street, not the other way around.”