Bahrainis Dr. Mohammed Saeed and Hussain Al-Habshi start serving their time in prison today for voicing their political opinions. The first for a year, the second for 6 months. Isolated from their jobs, their families and their community simply for voicing a political opinion which the government interpreted as tantamount to carrying arms and forcibly mounting a coup to change the ruling regime.
For just printing and wanting to distribute a document written by a dissident – a national figure nonetheless – calling for the boycott of the recently held national elections.
Even after more than 160 people signed a petition and 49 prominent human rights organisations from all over the world have demanded their release as they believe this was a political case or opinion suppression which countermands Bahrain’s signed and accepted UN Human Rights agreements, it being on the UN Human Rights Council and heading the United Nations. Other than countermanding our own charter and constitution, that is.
For those who say that this is not a politicised case and that the judiciary is in fact independent, let me remind you of a few things that might call that opinion into question: known and documented torturers still walk freely amongst us with impunity, someone who had a gun and live ammunition with probable intent to use them gets 8 days remand in custody and released, high-level embezzlers get rapped on their knuckles – by the same court – and let go, wife abusers get fined BD20 and let go, child rapists get lenient sentences, thieves probably get less time for burglaries and many more examples you read in the papers almost every day.
Yet, call for a boycott – which is a valid and legitimate political opinion – even on a second-hand basis as in this particular case, and you get to be the guest of His Majesty for up to 7 years. I suppose we should be thankful that Mohammed Saeed only got 1 year in prison while his companion Hussain Abdulaziz gets only 6 months.
I wonder how many years I would get to be a guest of His Majesty if they rifled through my posts on this site… That’s a prospect I do not relish finding out.
Maybe it’s time to shut up, keep our heads down, and mind our own business.