A group of Bahrainis gathered this morning at Al-Uruba Club, one of the oldest cultural clubs and apparently on their own initiative, to work out a plan to rescue this country from the various ills that has befallen this country. The meeting was led by the highly respected Dr Ali Fakhro, scholar, an ex-minister who held two of the most important portfolios of Education and Health who delivered the following opening speech which set the agenda and objectives of this gathering:
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28 / 1 / 2012
English translation by Dr Mike Diboll – with many thanks!
The Speech of Dr. Ali Fakhro at a Meeting of the â€œNational Encounterâ€ Group Held at the Al Uruba Club
In the name of God the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Oh Brothers and Sisters,
Welcome to this comprehensive National Encounter, held in the name of the entire nation, for the sake of all its people, and for every individual without favour, without preconditions. Allow me present the background to this meeting and its recommendations. Kindly assist us by ensuring that our deliberations this morning proceed in a positive and successful manner.
Firstly, we are not a political party or association, nor are we even political grouping. Rather, we here purely as private citizens are preparing we do not represent any viewpoint to which we might have allegiance. What has motivated us to call this meeting is our fear for our nation which is suffering from every kind of tribulation, division, and fanatical sentiment and blind bigotry unmitigated by any consideration of tolerance or higher human ethics, and political intrigue promoted by the enemies of Bahrain, fed by opportunism and ignorant self-interest.
Secondly, the brothers and sisters gathered here today have carefully studied the tragic conditions mentioned over long and arduous weeks. They have perceived the necessity of a comprehensively acceptable Voice of Reason that can propose to parties from the various communities, in particular political groupings, to sit together in the presence of trusted representatives in order to frame a set of minimum national demands and proposals that are commonly agreed. These in turn can be presented to the relevant state authorities in order to discuss them with the parties concerned, and reach agreement on them if possible along lines acceptable to all stakeholders from both state and society. This is so we may find a way out of the current crisis, magnanimously completing the forward march of parliamentary democracy and constitutional reform aimed at the fair for the good of everyone in the interests of all.
Thirdly, we hope to call a meeting of political and community groups. There must therefore be a document upon which discussion can proceed. Accordingly, it is our suggestion — and you are fully free to agree with us on this suggestion, or reject or amend it — that the discussion commences with discussion of the seven proposals put forward by His Highness the Crown Prince in February 2011. Naturally, the meeting will have the absolute right to amend this initiative, or add to it or subtract from it, or to formulate a common understanding as to its contents, so that the detailed amendments would be the outcome of the discussions the two communities and subject to their agreement. The principles put forward by His Highness Sheikh Salman form the basis of our proposal as they are a reasonable ground for discussion, acceptable to many, and subject to some give and take should render most of what we propose acceptable to many of the stateâ€™s decision-makers.
Fourthly, should those gathered at that meeting reach agreement on a set of political demands that are appropriate to this stage in Bahrainâ€™s progress toward democracy, we should remember that while democracy is blessed with a beginning it has in fact no final outcome. Therefore, those gathered should be able to form delegation to present those demands of the appropriate parts of our political system in order to discuss the demands with them and try to persuade them to adopt these demands, implementing them within an agreed timescale, according to a cumulative timeframe which is absolutely irreversible.
Fifthly, we suggest the brothers here present elect a number between twenty and thirty persons to be a coordinating committee following up contacts with all political forces and national stakeholders in order to convince them regarding all that has been mentioned above, and to ensure that its members, as your representatives, conduct joint meetings. It is demanded that the committee will need to remain in close association with you as a general grouping to arrange the public naming of the group, and to invite you to meetings as necessary and to inform you of the outcomes of our activities and to obtain your consent for new roles undertaken on your behalf.
Sixthly, should we be unable to reach any agreement this endeavor, the matter will return to you: this could mean a change of goals or methods, or leaving the matter to others. However, what is essential is that we do our duty as citizens, so that history cannot record against us that we saw our nation aflame, but did nothing to relieve our country from its tribulation.
Seventhly, and finally, it is our ardent hope this morning that we disregard slurs and insults from whatever any party they may arise, so that we may focus on the matter in hand. We are not attending a festival of rhetoric, but are meeting in order to find ways forward and solutions.
Let us fix our sight on that. Let us remember that we must rise above all that divides us, we must banish the vituperation, wrangling and bickering that are harming our nation, we must save our nation from what some hypocrites, ignoramuses and opportunists are putting it through.
In short, we are at this stage concerned to communicate with all groupings, urging them to communicate with one another and agree on common demands. We are not at this stage concerned with communicating with official parties, although this may come about at a later date, possibly involving others, or without them, according to you wishes at further meetings.
Greetings to you all, you are all patriotic and have love for your people. God reward you a thousand-fold.
May peace and God’s mercy and blessings be upon you.
Dr. Ali Mohammed Fakhro
The National Encounter
Al Uruba Club
28th January 2012
The essence of the action here is to define a route to get back to the negotiation table using the Crown Prince’s agreed principles of discussion which he announced in February last year which are:
- A fully representative parliament with exclusive legislative authority
- An elected and representative cabinet
- Equitable electoral districts
- Review of Naturalisation Laws
- Address administrative and financial corruption
- Review sovereign wealth
- Address the sectarian impasse
According to reports, some 200 people attended the Uruba Club gathering and 21 were elected to form a committee under the leadership of Dr Ali Fakhro who was elected as Chairman. The others who signed the founding document were Dr. Ali Fakhro, Jassim Murad, Hameed Ali Abdulla, Radhi Al-Mousawi, Ubaidly Alubaidly, Shawqi Alalawi, Mariam Alruai’ie, Abdulmonem Alshirawi, Yousif Zainal, Dr. Mohammed Isa Alkuwaiti, Jameel Alalawi, Ali Rabi’ea, Saeed Alasbool, Abdulla Mutawiee’, Esmat Almousawi, Dr. Wedad Kaiksow, Dr. Hasan Madan, Dr. Hasan Alaali, and Abdulhasan Alhasan. All of these people are luminaries of society and are known for their patriotic stances away from sectarianism which gives this particular committee credibility to try to bridge the chasm and hopefully find a solution.
I wish them all the best of luck. There is an awful lot of hard work to be done yet, and with the first anniversary of Feb 14 approaching fast, things will get very ugly if even a glimmer of resolution is not seen.
I hope that this is the genuine glimmer that everyone is hoping for.