10 Feb 2012 GDN
US Assistant Secretary of State and Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights and Labour head Michael Posner yesterday condemned street violence, including attacks on police with Molotov cocktails and metal projectiles.
"Such violence undermines public safety and further divides society," he told a Press Conference at the US Embassy in Manama.
"We contacted Al Wefaq and slammed the escalating violence to the point of becoming a daily phenomenon. We urged Al Wefaq to assume its responsibility and ask instigators to refrain from such practices for the political crisis not to deteriorate further," he said, praising the Interior Ministry for co-operating with the opposition and permitting peaceful rallies.
He hoped the first anniversary of the deplorable February 14 incidents would be an opportunity to move forward, ushering in a brighter future in which the government, political societies and others work towards Bahrain's progress through dialogue.
"This must be a process led by Bahrainis themselves. It will not be easy. And it can only succeed by building a greater degree of mutual respect and trust," Mr Posner said, adding as a long-time friend, the US stands ready to support Bahrain.
He praised His Majesty for setting up the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), describing it as a "source of pride" and for accepting BICI proposals and forming the National Commission to implement them. "It is commendable for any government to invite and take part in an independent examination of its human rights record," Mr Posner said and voiced satisfaction over progress so far.
"Bahrain is an important partner of the US. We have a long-standing alliance based on shared political, economic and security interests. Both countries benefit from stability and prosperity here," he said and stressed that Bahrain is "a sovereign country".
"During my three days in Manama, I have met HRH the Crown Prince, top officials, lawyers, journalists, medical professionals, human rights advocates and political societies, including the opposition. The government has taken steps towards long-term institutional reforms identified in the BICI report. It has allowed International Committee of the Red Cross access to its prisons. It has begun to rebuild religious sites and engaged experts to advise on policing and legal reforms.
"However, more needs to be done. First, there are pending criminal cases stemming from the unrest, including a substantial number of individuals in detention. The BICI report recommends that the government drop charges against all those accused of offences involving political expression.
"Secondly, escalating violence points to the need for steps that will begin to integrate police, as recommended by the BICI, so Bahrain can build a force that reflects the diversity of the communities it serves.
"Third, with regard to dismissed workers, we urge the government, General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions and private sector to continue to verify dismissals and reinstate workers to the same or comparable posts.
"Finally, we urge the government to continue to prosecute officials responsible for the violations described in the BICI report. The goal of the BICI and implementation of its proposals is to create a path towards genuine political dialogue and national reconciliation," he added.