by Alexander Savelli, UNA Tampa Bay Advisor
Since 2011, Bahrain has had many anti-government protests which aimed to achieve greater political freedom and equality for the majority Shia population. The protests were originally peaceful, but quickly turned into violent clashes with government forces. Bahrain's police and military brutally beat protesters, conducted night raids, and continued to deny wounded protesters’ hospital treatment in order to distill fear into the people.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has urged Bahrain police forces to respect the freedom of speech and human rights of protesters. Protesters using violence should be prosecuted, said Ki-moon, but revoking citizenship leaving civilians stateless, firing civilians from government jobs, not allowing students to return to school, and arresting journalist and civilians exercising their freedom of speech in a peaceful manner is out of line.
Journalists Without Borders stated that, to date, nine journalist have been detained for reporting on the protests, many of them receiving up to 10 years in jail. On Apr. 21, 2011, after Bahraini authorities denied responsibility for the death of two media professionals that had died earlier in the month while held in imprisonment in Bahrain, a senior UN official called for an investigation. The authorities claimed that one journalist died of kidney failure and the other died from sickle cell anemia. The families of the detained media professionals said the men were previously in good health.
From February 2011 onwards, Ban Ki-moon has consistently urged for an immediate end to violence against peaceful protesters in Bahrain, and for them to create “bold reforms, not repression”. Ban Ki-moon has also asked for peace talks consisting of all concerned on the crisis with the “political opposition and civil society in the interest of all Bahraini people”.
The first peace talks were scheduled to take place Jul. 1, 2011, but the majority Shia rejected the talks by stating that “nobody is willing to sit with officials when the military is killing people”.
The UN has criticized Bahrain countless times for their unjust convictions of peaceful protesters, even including lengthy sentences and torture. On Nov. 23, 2012, the UN was grateful to accept an invitation from the Bahraini Government to discuss the judicial system and accountability for past and present human right abuses. The UN would also meet to give recommendations on the Commission of Inquiry which was established by the King of Bahrain in June 2011 to investigate legal cases pertaining to early anti-government protesters.
On Sept. 6, 2012 Ban Ki-moon agreed to Bahrain’s change from military trials to civilian trials, but on Jan. 8, 2013, Ban Ki- moon strongly expressed his disagreement with the results of the first 20 protesters being tried in the civilian court. The first trials ended with all 20 protesters losing their trials and receiving up to life in prison. According to UN reports, “only 13 of them had appealed, with the remaining seven tried in absentia because they were out of the country or in hiding.” Ban Ki-moon stated that his “firm belief that the only way to promote peace, stability, justice and prosperity in Bahrain is through a national dialogue which addresses the legitimate aspirations of all Bahrainis, and in which all communities can participate freely, without fear or intimidation.”
On Jan. 24, 2013, the UN recognized the King of Bahrain’s aspirations to start new peace talks.
On Feb. 14, 2014, the UN Secretary General asked for the peace talks to include dialogue on peace, stability, reform and prosperity for all Bahrainis and again to include the participation of protesters and the rest of the opposition. Ban Ki-moon has urged these peace talks since the protests first escalated. The police have also been warned that they need to abide by human rights laws.
With continuing attacks on protesters and the increase of bombings, Ban Ki-moon once again continues to press Bahrain to start the talks. On Mar. 4, 2014, Ban Ki-moon said “such acts of violence cannot be justified by any cause”.
Other action the UN has been taking in Bahrain
Since 1971, the United Nations Development Programme has played a major role in the development of Bahrain. In 1971, the UNDP supported Bahrain’s independence from Britain. In 1978, the UNDP signed an agreement to promote economic development along with the Kingdom of Bahrain’s reform agenda, the Economic Vision 2030 and the National Economic Strategy 2009-2014.
The UNDP recognizes Bahrain as the key stakeholder in reaching better economic success. The UNDP’s primary goal is to help Bahrain move closer to meeting Millennium Development Goals by strengthening institutional systems and capacities for development, formulating sound and inclusive development policies addressing the socioeconomic needs of the population, the advancement of Bahraini women, strengthening democratic governance, promoting the sustainable use of energy and resources and environmental management, and public-private sector partnerships.
by Alexander Savelli, UNA Tampa Bay Advisor
On February 10th, UN reports stated that the situation in Bangui, Central African Republic is steadily growing worse. According to UN reports, thousands are said to have been killed, including Jean-Emmanuel Ndjaroua, a member of the National Transition Council (CNT).
This situation has escalated in the past year, which resulted in a violent overthrow of the government, the collapse of state institutions, and a rise in lawlessness and violence.
It is said that 2.5 million civilians are in need of aid, which makes up about half of the population. UN reports state this situation started when Muslim Séléka rebels initiated attacks in December 2012. Mr. Gaye, who runs the Integrated Peace Building Office in C.A.R. said “this violence creates a climate of fear and encourages the emergence of acts of banditry”. He urged the Central African authorities to establish a functional criminal chain to bring to justice those responsible for these crimes and thus put an end to impunity.
On February 11th, the UN urged the international community to set a stronger plan, which is “robust, coherent, and swift” to help protect citizens, restore law, and to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of C.A.R..
The UN is afraid that the demographics of the situation are changing and it could result into genocide. The Security Council has decided to strengthen the UN’s political mission, BINUCA, by implementing a six point plan.
The first step is to order a more robust military force in C.A.R.. The UN has already sent 1,000 European Union soldiers to join 6,000 African and French troops to C.A.R.. However, on March 3rd, the UN stated that they are calling to deploy up to 10,000 troops and 1,820 personnel to gain control of the situation. According to UN reports, this plan is expected to take six months to implement.
The second step is to bring the international forces under a central command “the mission of these forces should be focused on the most urgent priorities: containing the violence, protecting civilians, preventing further displacements, creating a secure environment for the delivery of humanitarian assistance and laying the groundwork for the handover to a United Nations peacekeeping force as soon as possible.”
The third step is to support the African troops with logistics and financial support along with food, water, fuel, and reimbursement for major non-lethal military equipment. This will cost about $38 million for six months.
Fourth is to support the government of C.A.R. in helping them function.
Fifth is to set in a political and reconciliation process to stop further breaking of community bonds.
Lastly, the sixth step is to increase funding for humanitarian aid.