News ID: 110659
Publish Date : 28 December 2022 - 21:37

Jailed Cleric Blames Lack of Genuine Dialogue, Meaningful Reforms for Bahrain Crisis

MANAMA (Dispatches) – Prominent Bahraini Shia cleric and opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman has blamed the absence of genuine dialogue and meaningful reforms for the ongoing political crisis and cruel clampdown in the Persian Gulf kingdom, criticizing harsh punishments for pro-democracy advocates, dissolution of their associations, and killing of activists and their supporters.
The 57-year-old secretary general of Bahrain’s dissolved opposition group, the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, in a message addressed to the Bahraini nation pointed to the efforts undertaken by his group and other prominent opposition parties and figures to resolve the political crisis in the country, and underlined the need for implementation of meaningful reforms.
“The endeavors put in by political leaders and currents to save and uplift the country resulted in harsh punishments for pro-democracy advocates, dissolution of their associations, killing of activists and their supporters, as well as imprisonment, deportation and political isolation of dissident figures,” Sheikh Salman said.
He added, “Absence of real dialogue and genuine reforms chiefly account for grave crises worldwide, and Bahrain is no exception.”
The distinguished Bahraini cleric also lamented the Al Khalifah regime’s refusal to hold reconciliation talks with the opposition, saying, “If the negotiations had taken place and human rights as well as economic progress had been taken into account, the budget deficit would not have deepened and there would be no need to levy taxes on the public.”
“No one should be under the illusion that suppression of idealism and democracy, freedom and respect for human rights would notch up a victory. It would actually result in a self-inflicted harm and its losses would be enormous,” the al-Wefaq chief said.
On November 4, 2018, an appellate court in Bahrain overturned the acquittal of Sheikh Salman and two of his colleagues, Hassan Sultan and Ali al-Aswad, and levied charges of collaborating with Qatar “with the purpose of overthrowing the regime” against them.
The court went on to say that the trio had transferred confidential information to Qatar and received financial support in return. Sultan and Aswad were tried in absentia.
The high criminal court in Bahrain had acquitted Sheikh Salman and his two aides of the spying charges on June 21, 2017.
Demonstrations have been held in Bahrain on a regular basis since a popular uprising began in the Arab country in mid-February 2011.