ACHR Chairperson Violette Dagher: Pope Required to Send Strong Message to Political Authoritarian Power in Bahrain
2022-11-04 - 1:58 p
Bahrain Mirror: The Pope of the Vatican is currently a guest of the people of Bahrain. Al-Wefaq opposition society, welcomed, in a statement, the visit of His Holiness and regretted that he will not meet with representatives of the Shiite community in the country during his visit and regretted that the regime will use the visit to promote itself as a sponsor of religious freedoms, while most international reports consistently criticize the sectarian persecution Shiites are subjected to, perhaps most recently the State Department's report on religious freedom.
In an interview with the chairperson of the Arab Committee for Human Rights (ACHR), Dr. Violette Dagher hoped that his Holiness "sends at least a strong message to the political authorities in a country that suffers from political authoritarianism."
Dagher noted that the tight grip of oppression "has even reached religious scholars, such as Sheikh Isa Qassim, who was tried, whose citizenship was revoked, and who was forcibly deported from his hometown, or Sheikh Ali Salman who has been imprisoned for years, noting that he is the head of the largest national society that has entered the parliament, or Sheikh Abduljalil Al-Moqdad and hundreds of other religious scholars, the majority of whom belong to Bahrain's persecuted Shia community."
She went on to say that many hope Pope Francis, who is aware of the situation in Bahrain, and who's supposed to be the world's first defender of the oppressed, will be in line with his mission of tolerance and the pursuit of peace, in line with himself and his sermons, as well as hope he will "address the freedoms that must be safeguarded, and the human rights violations that should be stopped in Bahrain. This is the least he can do."
Nonetheless, the head of the Arab Committee for Human Rights regretted that she did not see a glimmer of hope given that "we see his Holiness, who carefully selects his visits, in terms of the political situation of the country, as someone who succumbed to pressure, as he did not include on his agenda a meeting with Shiite representatives, and if he did, it would be a strong signal that he is above all the political policies and that he doesn't submit to their dirty game."
Dagher revealed that "one of the problems facing the people of Bahrain is that the image the regime presents of itself, in international forums, is very different from what we see in the way it manages public affairs at home, especially politically." In her opinion, the regime "issues flashy statements about pluralism and religious tolerance, but systematically marginalizes and attacks the interests of the Shia community." "Does contradicting Iran's policy require that this sect pay hefty prices as it is the case with it," Dagher wondered.
The ACHR president stressed that the reality of these situations in Bahrain is not hidden from international forums, and went on to say that, "many have asked His Holiness about these situations, whether from local or international organizations and for a long time. However, has anything changed? On the contrary, repression and inhumane measures against the people of Bahrain have increased, especially after the regime became a professional in how to market its image, silence tongues and buy weak and complicit souls, who already work for institutions that have long succumbed to the pressures of a hidden system that is largely controlling international policies."
Dagher asserted that if the regime in Bahrain "had acted with open visions, patriotic and wise actions, in the service of its people, it would not have needed much to reconcile with them," She further described the people as "the only guarantor of its survival and the continuation of the throne, far from the tremors that could turn in a direction that no one wishes neither for the state nor the steadfast people of Bahrain, who have remained peaceful until now, despite the blatant human rights violations they were subjected to."
The head of the Arab Human Rights Committee was surprised that while marginalization is being practiced against the people of Bahrain, "the red carpets are being laid for Jewish people of other nationalities."
With regards to normalization, she stressed that "it is no longer a secret that interests are intertwined, and that these [Zionists] even have a big influence on policies in Bahrain. Is this called 'normalization with the Zionist entity' or 'close cooperation' with imported schemes for aggressive and brutal implementation."
She wondered, "Is this a guarantee of the continuation of a rule that accumulates the number of its victims, and stands over their corpses, indifferent to what injustice and continuous infringement on the rights and freedoms of human beings entail?"
In conclusion, Dagher urged the Bahraini regime to issue in conjunction with the Pope's visit "an amnesty for Bahraini clerics, and those persecuted in prisons and in exile, and take action regarding the conditions of other prisoners, in line with the image that Bahrain funds from its people's money to present to the world," stressing that this would be a guarantee for the state to be safe from tremors, which are not unlikely to happen amid the suffocating conditions experienced by the people of Bahrain, and in light of the pivotal international transformations, which may hit like a devastating earthquake impacting many rulers of the world."