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Need For Reconciliation In Bahrain

A Bahraini anti-government protester wearing a national flag gets up after falling when riot police fired tear gas at a mourning procession on Nov. 13, for a teenager whose death the opposition blames on police

“We urge all parties to contribute to fostering a climate of reconciliation.”

Six Bahraini political opposition parties issued a “Declaration of Principles of Nonviolence” on November 7. This follows continued clashes between Bahraini police forces and demonstrators, with excessive use of tear gas and bird shot by security forces and Molotov cocktails and explosive devices by violent protesters.

Need For Reconciliation In Bahrain
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“Publicly committing to nonviolence is an important confidence-building measure.” said State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland in a statement. The U.S. welcomes the Bahraini declaration and continues to urge the Bahraini government and society to address the issues that are barring clear, peaceful, and important discussion.

“We urge the government and these six political societies,” said Spokesperson Nuland, “to engage seriously and practically about ways to allow for the resumption of peaceful demonstrations as soon as possible.”

The U.S. is concerned by increasing violence in Bahrain, including the November 5 explosions caused by homemade bombs that resulted in the deaths of two civilians. The U.S. is also concerned that protesters continue to face excessive force from the riot police. Two teenagers have been killed in the last few months in protests.

The principles of non-violence signed by the six societies include strong support for upholding basic human rights such as free speech and the right of free assembly. They also condemn all violent means of achieving these or any other goals.

At the meeting of United Nations Human Rights Council in September, Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner said that last year, the government of Bahrain showed “great courage” in completing recommendations set forth by the UN. Now, however, the Bahraini government’s efforts are lagging. “We are concerned,” said Mr. Posner, “that the government is losing momentum on implementation.”

Mr. Posner called on Bahrain to integrate the police to reflect the diversity of the society and to reform security services. He also called on Bahrain to resolve labor issues and ensure a role for free trade unions. Assistant Secretary Posner further recommended that the Bahraini government dismiss criminal charges against individuals who have engaged in peaceful political expression.

The U.S. supports the rights of peaceful non-violent assembly and free speech throughout the world. “We urge all parties,” said Ms. Nuland, “to contribute to fostering a climate of reconciliation.”