Ali Alaswad writes: When 100,000 or more people take to the streets in protest, governments in most parts of the world would see it as a sign that they need to change course – especially in a country with only about 600,000 citizens.
But Bahrain is no ordinary country. Its prime minister, Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, has been in office for more than 40 years and his nephew, King Hamad, insists there is no opposition as such: “We only have people with different views… and now they are talking with their brothers.”
So far, though, there has been no move towards serious dialogue, instead just a campaign of repression that has claimed at least 80 lives and created hundreds of political prisoners.
We in the opposition have reiterated time and again our calls for “meaningful dialogue”, as President Obama put it. We stand ready to move the country forward towards a democratic future, but the only engagement from the authorities has been violence, not discussion.
Rather than address our demands, the government has resorted to peddling lies to discredit our movement internationally – a strategy it has used since day one of this crisis, which shows its complete refusal to reform. Last October we published The Manama Document to show our roadmap to reform. The government has ignored this and we have received no official response.