Editorial: Why's the "Progressive Bloc" Opposing Release of Political Prisoners in Bahrain?

2022-12-25 - 4:48 p

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): With the head of the "Progressive Bloc" in the Bahraini Parliament, Abdulnabi Salman, in his capacity as Deputy Speaker of the Parliament, having signed a statement denouncing a decision issued by the European Parliament calling for the release of political prisoners in Bahrain, the approach that his party has taken is now decided. This is the approach and path by which his leftist organization has turned into a mere "functional group" that the government uses to meet its needs after retiring the previous traditional functional groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist parties.

This statement issued by the Bureau of the House of Representatives, of which Salman became a member, by virtue of an unwritten sectarian quota process that was consolidated by customs over two decades of parliament life, which indicates that only a Shiite MP should fill this position exclusively and that this shouldn't be affected by whether its occupant belongs to a leftist or other group, included a refusal of the release of human rights activist Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, and a reiteration of the flimsy accusations raised against him such as "treason and undermining state security," "attempting to overthrow the constitutional system of the government," "communicating with foreign countries to carry out hostile actions against the Kingdom, its citizens, and residents." and "establishing and managing an illegal society to carry out terrorist and subversive acts."

The statement also said that the charges over which Al-Khawaja was convicted "are legal sentences and procedures that no one can be allowed to involve themselves in." There are a few questions to be asked here:

- Does Abdulnabi Salman, the former Secretary-General of the Progressive Tribune (Al-Menbar Society) and one of the longest serving parliamentarians of the "Progressive Bloc", by signing this statement, represent the position of his bloc and thus his society as well, or is this just his personal stance?

- Do the other two sides of the "Progressive Bloc" triangle, Dr. Mahdi Al-Shuwaikh and Iman Showaiter (wife of torture victim martyr Dr. Hashim Al-Alawi, member of the Bahrain National Liberation Front), have a different position than the one signed by the head of the Bloc, Salman, or is the Bloc's position unified on this issue?

- If the aforementioned (Al-Shuwaikh and Showaiter) have different positions, why did they not disclose them publicly?

- Last October, Yousif Zainal, a member of the "Progressive Bloc" in the outgoing 2018 Parliament, made a shocking statement in which he said that his approval of the value-added tax law was a tactical stance agreed upon by the "Progressive Bloc", but the other two members of the bloc at the time (Abdulnabi Salman and Sayed Falah Hashem) issued a statement expressing their rejection of what was stated by their colleague. So, why haven't the current two members of the Progressive Bloc (Al-Shuwaikh and Showaiter) issued a similar statement regarding Salman's position refusing the release of political prisoners unless they implicitly agree with the content of what was signed?

- In the Progressive Bloc's previous statement regarding Zainal's statement, the following was mentioned: "Our fundamental agreement when forming the Progressive Bloc at the beginning of the fifth legislative term was mainly based on having unified political positions on several focal issues that represent the core of our electoral program." Does this still apply to the current legislative term, and therefore can we consider from Salman's signing of the Bureau's statement that there is also a unified position by the bloc regarding the rejection of the release of political prisoners and the accusations of treason raised against Al-Khawaja?

- What is the position of the "Progressive Tribune Society" concerning these developments related to its parliamentary bloc, the "Progressive Bloc", and does it have any clarification or anything it would like to disclose to the public opinion about the reasons for its bloc's rejection in the first place of the release of political prisoners?

- Has keeping political prisoners behind bars and isolating the opposition become the only option left for the "Progressive Platform" to get its candidates to Parliament?

- Does Salman's strange position on the issue of political prisoners solve the mystery regarding the real reasons behind the urgent government orders given to the military in various sectors of the security services to vote for him exclusively in the 2022 elections?

- And last but not least, the question that should be repeated over and over again without equivocation or sugar-coating until someone decides to answer it frankly: Is the "Progressive Tribune" an opposition or loyalist party?

Arabic Version