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Bahrain ‘must find own way to resolve crisis'

Manama, June 20, 2012

Bahrain should be left to sort out its own affairs as it tries to recover from last year's unrest, said an international expert on social reconciliation.

It could learn from experiences of other countries, including Northern Ireland which overcame an ethno-political conflict that lasted more than three decades.

Bahrainis should also not seek shortcuts to solve the sectarian rift that has polarised the country since February last year, according to Equality Commission for Northern Ireland commissioner Peter Sheridan.

'There are no shortcuts and it is not for the people from Northern Ireland, UK or US to decide what is good for Bahrain. It is for the citizens of this country to decide,' said Mr Sheridan, who is also chief executive of Co-operation Ireland, which is one of the leading peace-building charities in Ireland.

He was speaking at Sheraton Bahrain Hotel last night at an event organised by newly formed Bahrain Foundation for Reconciliation and Civil Discourse (BFRCD), which aims to promote reconciliation and social unity.

Sheridan, who was also a senior police officer for 30 years and served during the violent conflict, spoke about his experience during that time and the challenges in building peace in a divided society.

He said it is important for any torn community to focus on the importance of reconciliation and work towards a shared society that is built on understanding and tolerance.

'I must say that every Bahraini I have met during my short stay here loves the country and wants peace for a better future,' he added. 'This is an important aspect as common vision is important rather than focusing on differences.'

BFRCD founder Suhail Algosaibi said the society hopes to heal the rift caused by the unrest that has left Bahrainis divided.

'Let the political solutions be handled by the politicians. We are focusing on the social side to heal the sectarian rift and bring people together,' said Algosaibi. 'We need to focus on those issues that unite us such as the love for Bahrain and avoid political issues. We are all stuck here and cannot isolate ourselves.'

BFRCD is a registered non-political group with the Social Development Ministry and has received the support of His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander.

Algosaibi said they would soon announce future activities, which includes a Ramadan Ghabga that will bring people from different sects together.

Former Bahrain Human Rights Society secretary-general Dr Abdulla Al Deerazi stressed it was vital for street violence to end for comprehensive talks between the government and opposition to take place.

'It is very important that the first step is to bring all groups to the table,' said Dr Al Deerazi, who attended the event. 'Let them discuss at the table whatever issues they have without any ceiling and violence should also stop in the streets during this period.'

Bahraini Mahmood Al Yousif, who also attended the event, said the situation had reached unprecedented levels, which made it difficult for both sides to see eye to eye.

'I remain optimistic, but it is important that the political will is present,' he said. 'We all need to be honest, truthful for a discussion or dialogue that addresses the real differences and it requires a platform to be able to do this.' – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Bahrain | Ireland | Manama | unrest | Reconciliation | BFRCD |

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