Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): When Pope Francis visited Bahrain last November, he clearly spoke about the human rights situation in the country. He was brave enough to speak in front of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. Is the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) President Duarte Pacheco as courageous as the Pope?
Pacheco will certainly be received by the king one day between March 11-15, when Manama will host the 146th session of the IPU General Assembly, but it is uncertain whether he will speak his word freely.
According to the union's statement, it will discuss issues of peaceful coexistence and the fight against intolerance. The union says the assembly gathering comes amid the world's "lowest levels of calm in the past 15 years".
"Online hate speech continues to spread increasing division against minorities, diminished trust in government and the media, curtailed religious freedoms, and increasing religious discrimination and racism," the IPU noted.
All these situations surrounding the session of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, according to his description, apply to the situation in Bahrain, where religious and human rights violations continue and there is a lack of trust in the government, which has become a political opponent for a large segment of the people in the country.
Sitting next to the King, the Pope called for the redress of grievances, where he said that "commitments must continue to be put into practice until religious freedom is complete, equality of dignity and opportunity is achieved, as well as effective recognition of each group, until any form of discrimination disappears and human rights are not violated."
"I think first comes the right to life and the need to ensure that this right always includes those who are serving sentences and their lives should not be lost," he said.
The Shia community suffers discrimination on basic rights, with the government imprisoning thousands of Shiites, including political and religious community leaders, and sentencing dozens of inmates to death.
This meeting comes amid the same circumstances that His Holiness the Pope called to address, where the government completely ignored what His Holiness said, and Pacheco can see the international human rights reports on which the Pope relied in his statements
The ruling family believes that hosting the session is an opportunity to promote itself and whitewash its violations, while the human rights community around the world believes that hosting this meeting is an opportunity to test the credibility of the Union and its loyalty to its slogans.
The presence of the Union is an opportunity to verify whether the subject of public debate (coexistence and fighting intolerance) is aligned with the actions of the Union and its members, as on the ground in Manama the government loses its credibility for exercising the harshest types of marginalization, exclusion and monopoly of power.
It is indeed putting Pacheco's courage and the principles of the Inter-Parliamentary Union to the test. He will either speak freely and courageously and stay true to his principles or fail the test, falling for the luxurious royal hospitality.