Bahrain still needs a radical, inclusive settlement to its political crisis to get itself off the path of repression and polarization. Shuffling political dissidents in and out of jail isn't real reform. By freeing all its political dissidents, it can begin to open a real dialogue about the country's future.
Many younger prisoners may feel they have nothing to lose by refusing to cooperate with the prison authorities and are likely to riot again and again. If Bahrain wants to fix its prison problem properly, it will stop trying to hide the truth about what's happened, improve conditions, and release all those prisoners who shouldn't be in jail in the first place.
Legend says he knows about human-rights issues in the kingdom but that because part of his "mission in life is to spread love and joy to people," he intends to play in Bahrain "regardless of my disagreements with some of their governments' policies and actions." As he mulls the best way to spread the love during his time in Bahrain, he might want to consider a few things.
If Bahrain really wants to show it values freedom of expression, as well as sending its foreign minister to join the Paris march it will stop targeting its peaceful dissidents and drop the charges against Jawad, the other human rights defenders, and everyone else jailed in Bahrain for expressing their opinions.
Washington is right to speak out about Rajab and al Khawaja and should now publicly state that the targeting of human rights defenders will not bring stability to Bahrain, that the United States will continue to name individual cases publicly, and that there will be consequences to the U.S.-Bahraini relationship unless the abuses stop.