Where’s the Reconciliation in Bahrain?

Written by  Published by:Shiite News
Published in Middle East
Monday, 27 June 2011

shiitenews_Where__the_Reconciliatio__in_BahrainKing Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa of Bahrain has promised to launch a national dialogue aimed at reconciling his country after a brutal crackdown on antigovernment protesters.

It is hard to take this seriously — or see any real chance of success — when many of the people who should be at the negotiating table are still in jail.

At a time when the Sunni-led minority government should be showing good faith, it did the opposite: a military show trial last week convicted 21 activists, almost all Shiites, on charges of conspiring to overthrow the government during the Arab Spring demonstrations. Most defendants received terms of up to 15 years, but eight were sentenced to life in prison. Why would anyone trust the government after that?

The protests have been led by Bahraini Shiites demanding fair treatment in housing, education and employment. Few are allowed to serve in the military or the police. For Bahrain, the real domestic threat comes from ignoring the legitimate demands and needs of its people.

Bahrain is home port to the United States Navy’s Fifth Fleet and the Obama administration has been too cautious in its criticism of the government. It must speak out more forcefully. If Bahrain continues to abuse its citizens, it will face more instability. And resentment of the United States will only grow.

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