Human Rights Lobby Being Unfair to Bahrain

Everyone, from Maryam Alkhawajah, self-styled head of foreign relations at the defunct Bahrain Centre for Human Rights set up by her dad, to sundry outfits looking for opportunities to raise their hackles, have panned and ridiculed Bahrain for the so-called human rights violations committed by its security forces.

It is good for the motley group of human rights bodies to voice concerns on such issues if only to justify their existence and keep their names in the news. But how many of them have looked at the human rights of those in the protesters’, demonstrators’, vandals’ and terrorists’ line of fire?

Let us come out of Bahrain for a moment and go to India. The disgruntled elements in central India who have taken up arms for their ’cause’ and are known as Naxalites have been regularly killing policemen – an action which has met with a deafening silence by the human rights groups. But whenever police have killed any of the Naxalites the same rights organizations have started flailing their arms.

As one murdered policeman’s wife asked: “What about the rights of my husband?” And in the same region a highly-educated activist called Binayak Sen was held for anti-national activity since he was found to be a conduit between the terrorists and their contacts and the same human rights groups and some members of the intelligentsia sprung into action to defend him when he had no argument to defend his actions.

On the same note one might ask what about the rights of Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis who were attacked, beaten, knifed and murdered by some Bahrainis at the height of the recent troubles in Bahrain, so much so that some of them gave up their jobs and precipitately left for their home countries in fear? No one among the human rights bodies spoke about their rights or plight. On the contrary it was falsely claimed by some rights groups that they were given that treatment because they deserved it since they had been hired to attack members of a certain section of society though the accusing rights groups could produce nothing to substantiate their claims. Yet, when some of the attackers of those expatriates were arrested, their ‘well-wishers’ in rights bodies immediately began to clamour about the injustice done to them.

The point is that no government can be criticized for trying to contain terrorism, anti-constitutional activity and insurgency within its borders even if it leads to loss of life if those in the opposition tend to espouse their causes violently. For instance Bahrain has yet to see a single statement from any human rights organization with regard to the murder of policemen by terrorist-demonstrators who ran them over in their 4WDs in April or the infliction of grievous injuries on nine policemen by a protester who went berserk driving his car earlier this month.

Some rights activists have also criticized the discontinuation of scholarships given to a number of students to study in elite overseas universities. One would like to ask which government or organization would lend a helping hand to a person who would tend to bite that hand after pocketing the help? Similarly, when people were sacked for staying away from work and spending time with those plotting to overthrow the government and the monarchy, human rights groups again began to thump their fists in anger and frustration. Since when have the coup plotters begun to expect milk and honey from those they meant to subvert?

Let us be real, whether in Bahrain or anywhere else in the world, when it comes to defending human rights. That defence is like a beam of hope and light running through a landscape and the hurt and the attacked and the targeted on both sides of the divide have the right to an equal measure of justice and regard in their respective domains. Human rights is not a one-way street where you sprint across screaming and accusing while throwing stones.