04 : 50 PM - 29/06/2011
Manama, June 29. (BNA) – His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa today chaired at Al Sakhir Palace, in the presence of His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa and His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander, an extraordinary Cabinet meeting.
At the beginning of the session, HM King Hamad delivered the following key note speech:
In the name of God, the Most Merciful, Most Beneficent,
and prayers and peace of God are upon his Messengers, Prophet Muhammad, His family and companions.
Your Highnesses, Excellencies,
God's Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon you.
Through God’s will, we have lived in this fine homeland as brothers, loving one another as has always been the nature of the people of Bahrain, who have been the best support in helping us undertake our responsibilities. We have founded our rule on the principles of the National Action Charter; unanimously approved by our loyal people, and on the foundations of justice, consultation and the Constitution.
And now, with security and stability having been restored with God's will, and having overcome the grave incidents that have taken place, comes this call today for an extraordinary meeting of your esteemed Council in order to assure you of our firm resolve to reinstate trust and to unify our visions so as to move forward with our march towards further reform and consultation, through a comprehensive national consensus dialogue, to which we wish every success.
Yet the grave events which took place have created unprecedented distress and tension, prompting many to fear that the policy of democracy and openness we have emphasized since the beginning of our reign might give an opportunity for some extremists to hijack the nation and take it into chaos and extremism. But we strongly and firmly tell you today that we will not allow calls for extremism or chaos to hijack our reform, nor will we allow fear to drive any decision. Furthermore, we cannot empower any party at the expense of another, or leave the country prey to a fragmentation that would undermine national unity, for anger and fear prevent sound thinking or the learning of lessons.
The events which took place in February and March were distressing to us, as they were to all our people and to all friends of Bahrain everywhere. The events were unprecedented in our history, and came at a time when the Kingdom was taking broad strides forward in all areas. For ten years, we have sought reform of the institutions of Bahrain. We have a constitution which is compliant with all international treaties on human rights to which Bahrain is a party. Our economic progress has also been remarkable, and we can be proud of an unemployment rate which has remained below 4%.
In the face of what happened, it was not possible to ignore or shirk the responsibility to restore security and stability in the country and to protect the citizens and institutions which we have sworn to maintain. Despite the enormity of what happened, it was nothing compared to what happened or is happening in other countries. Nevertheless, our values reject such events, and require us to work hard to avoid any repetition in the future.
There can be no doubt that citizens have the right to express their views through peaceful and legitimate means. Citizens have the right to put their demands without being met violently; and in return, freedom must be exercised responsibly. Freedom of expression must not be exploited as a way to disturb public order, threaten civil peace, undermine economic interests or damage state facilities. During recent events, rumors were circulated to claim that some were right and others wrong. Given this situation, we cannot continue in our progress without healing these wounds and uncovering the whole truth.
Since the very beginning, we have been keen to ensure safety even as violence was escalating, and as people were being driven towards further violence. There were losses of life which we mourn, regardless of their positions or stances. We have ordered the formation of a committee under the Chairmanship of the Deputy Prime Minister to look into them. The government is also now working to find legal alternatives for facilities that have been removed, and a committee has already been formed based on a decision by His Royal Highness the Prime Minister to examine dismissals from employment in the private sector. Many detainees have been released, and the State of National Safety was ended ahead of schedule. And with the National Safety courts having dealt with the emergency and the urgent events which took place in our country, all remaining cases have been transferred to the ordinary courts. We have called for engagement in a national consensus dialogue, further to the invitation of His Royal Highness the Crown Prince, a dialogue which will include everyone. We hope, God willing, that their participation will be positive and constructive.
But we also need to look back and to determine exactly what happened in February and March, and to consider the reactions to those events. There were victims of the violence that took place. They must not be forgotten. There have been accusations and counter-accusations about the origins of the violence. A lack of confidence has prevailed, and disagreements have led to conflicting beliefs about events, even if such beliefs are founded only on rumors.
But let us make clear to anyone who holds any authority in the name of our government or on any other side, that we have not wavered in our commitment to the principles of human rights, and that the violation of those principles will not be tolerated. Such behavior does not help us, it hurts us all.
We have therefore decided, after broad consultations with many parties including the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, to appoint an independent fact-finding Commission into the events of February and March. It will be comprised of eminent persons with extensive expertise in international human rights law, who have no role in our government, nor in our political sphere. They have been chosen because of their personal stature and international achievements.
The mandate of this Commission has been established after consultation with its members, and will be fulfilled without any interference of any kind. It will submit its report to us to take the necessary action. In this regard, we have issued a Royal Order setting out the members of the Commission and its terms of reference, emphasizing that all Ministers are to support the work of the Commission, and to cooperate without reservation in its work, so that its findings will reveal the truth and assist us in putting events of the past behind us, as we move towards a brighter future of unity and cohesion.
In looking forward to a dialogue of national consensus, encompassing the views of all sectors of Bahraini society, we stress that, with trust in God Almighty, we can write a new chapter in our history, a chapter full of success and prosperity. This is Bahrain, the land of civilizations, where unprecedented men have set examples in giving, selflessness, loyalty to this homeland, and love of its fine people regardless of their color, race, religion or sect. They were the best embodiments of the teachings of Islam, as well as of noble human values.
May God's Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon you.
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Last updated : 05 : 13 PM - 29/06/2011