Saturday, February 26, 2011

Bahrain - is it an opening?

The whole of last week Parliament was in recess. But on Tuesday I chaired a meeting on the developments in Bahrain where, following large demonstrations, and the deliberate slaughter of demonstrators by the security forces, the king has asked Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa to enter into a dialogue with the opposition on the political reforms they demand.

Hassan Mushaime, Leader of the Haq movement, returned to Bahrain today after a period of voluntary exile. He said that actual reforms are needed, not just talk.

It remains to be seen whether the government’s offer is genuine. It won’t take long before we can judge whether freedom of speech and of assembly are part of the deal. There can only be a worthwhile dialogue if there are no subjects that are taboo. Can the importation of large numbers of Sunni mercenaries be mentioned, for instance, and will there be transparency on the policy of demographic engineering?

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