News / Middle East

    Bahrain Government Rights Official Speaks Out

    "We support call for change," says Bahrain, "as long as they reflect needs of population as a whole".

    Abdullah Al Doseri
    Abdullah Al Doseri

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Cecily Hilleary

    Rights groups continue to raise concern about alleged human rights abuses by the government of Bahrain during anti-government protests.   At least 30 people have been killed in the aftermath of spring protests by the majority Shiites seeking freedom and equal rights from Bahrain’s Sunni rulers.

    Abdullah al Doseri is head of the international affairs committee of the government-backed National Institution for Human Rights.  On a recent visit to Washington, he sat down with VOA reporter Cecily Hilleary.  He told her the government Bahrain supports all legitimate calls for reform - or “requirements,” as he calls them, but only if they reflect the wishes of Bahraini society as a whole, not individual segments of the population.

    Anti-government protesters shout slogans at riot policemen as they block a road in Manama, Bahrain, March 13, 2011
    Anti-government protesters shout slogans at riot policemen as they block a road in Manama, Bahrain, March 13, 2011

    Al Doseri:  There must be involvement, engagement, of all people in Bahrain.   Because the Sunni people have requirements, there [are] Far East people - those people who became Bahraini after three, four generations living in Bahrain - they have also requirements.  So we need to look at all these requirements - at the same level of attention and concern.  And we take them in vote.

    Hilleary:  It became very apparent very quickly that Bahrain is different than some of the other countries we’ve seen with protests during this so-called “Arab Spring,” that there was a sectarian division - Shia’a saying that they don’t enjoy all the privileges that the Sunni enjoy.  Is there any basis for their concern?

    Al Doseri:  What happened in Bahrain is different totally.  It is a sectarian requirement that people want to take some advantage, and they want to take advantage of the waves [of uprisings] that started from North Africa coming to the Gulf, and they found maybe that this is the proper time to demonstrate and ask for requirement.  At the beginning, people of Bahrain were conscious, they were supporting, and the government - as we raised our concern to the government - were able to listen to the people and give some promises and to do the changes.

    Hilleary:  Now, initially, because the protests began on the 4th of February -

    Al Doseri:  14th -

    Hilleary:  They were Shia’a and Sunni?  Were there Christians, Jews - was it a mixed group of protesters?

    Al Doseri:  It was only Shia’a people who started in Bahrain.  And it’s only when the Sunni became proactive, after that, like, two weeks, where the Sunni , under the National Gathering Unity [National Unity Gathering], raised their voices and they felt they were under threat because the Shia’a, under this protesting and this violence, they might receive tension from the government, and the Sunni will not receive the same attention.  So that made  a balance on the street.  There is the Sunni, people who raise their voices also, need to be considered, in addition to the Shia’a people and also to those who are living in Bahrain from different sects.

    Hilleary:   But what about the Shia’a who say, for example, that they don’t enjoy the same socio-economic power, the wasta, that you find among the Sunni.  Is there any basis for their concerns?

    Al Doseri:  Well, anybody in Bahrain can raise his own concerns, whether this is individual concern or group concern or a big group of people.   If there is anything of that, there are constitutional channels.  They need to raise this one [concern] and they will received attention.

    There is a court, there is a Parliament in Bahrain, there is a Shura Council, there is a big majlis for the Emir and for everybody in Bahrain.  I don’t see that door has been closed for a long time.  This is an open door, and we are enjoying this in Bahrain, so even for us human rights activists, every time we have any concern, we have a lot of channels to use.  We have different tools of pressure to pass on our messages, and also, if they don’t listen the first time, we can repeat it a second, third time.  But at the end, this voice will be received.

    But if this is being diversified, politicized, or sectarian requirement, or any interference from outside Bahrain - something like regional interference - this will impact negatively on this requirement, and make people seem as if they are not nationalist and not representing the whole country and not receiving the right attention.

    Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
    and discuss them on our Facebook page.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora