On February 20, the Vienna-based Peace Promotion Association granted Bahrain’s Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa, the Flame of Peace Award. In receiving this award, Prince Salman becomes the first Arab premier to receive the prize. The prize was conferred in tribute for his “outstanding humanitarian role to promote global peace and boost relations between people.” The Peace Promotion Association decided to bestow the award on the Premier in “recognition of his pivotal role in fostering regional and global peace and security.”
Earlier this month, an article in the Washington Post stated that the suppression of Bahrain’s mass protest movements in February 2011 marked a turning point in the wider regional struggle for political freedom, otherwise known as the Arab Spring. The author stated that government mobilized its mainly Sunni supporters in response to the Shia-led mass protests. This gave the demonstrations and their suppression a decidedly sectarian cast that presaged the sectarianism which would consume the region in the following years. Prime Minister Prince Salman bin Khalifa, being the leader of Bahrain, is responsible for the wider GCC involvement in the suppression of mass protests in Bahrain. He is the leader of a country where suppression of dissent and criminalization of free speech continues with the arrests of journalists and human rights activists. In labelling protesters as foreign agents, Bahraini officials, including Prime Minister Prince Salman bin Khalifa, have helped “transform a fundamentally domestic event into a new regional cold war.” It is important for the global community to recognize the role of the Prime Minister in the ongoing human rights violations in Bahrain.
Tyler Pry is an Advocacy Intern at Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain
Photo courtesy of Trade Arabia