All Posts By mahmood

Bassiouni’s Disappointment

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Professor Cherif Bassiouni is visibly disappointed with the regime’s response to his BICI report and is frustrated with the pace of adoption of its recommendations. While he suggests that the US administration should have a more active and visible role into urging the Bahraini regime to accelerate reforms as pointed out in his report and do so in a public manner.

Professor Bassiouni’s also not averse to naming and shaming those who have been proven at fault. Although I don’t regard this last fact as a threat of him actually doing so himself if the pace of change continues in its spiral of deceleration, I too see the merit in exposing them if only to act as an example for others to think of before they too take the path of subjugation. As the saying goes (loosely): the security from punishment is misbehavior (من أمن العقاب أساء الأدب).

What is much more damning in this short report; however, is his evaluation of this snail-paced and superficial changes, is due to the royal family’s overarching preoccupation with their own familial loyalty, unity and internal conflict rather than that of unifying the country itself.

Very perceptive.

The logical thing, in my humble opinion and if I may be so bold as to offer some advice, that would be for the regime to relax its grip on power somewhat and spearhead true reforms. As I’ve said countless times before, this single action will not only save the country from dire consequences, but ironically, will also ensure the regime’s very own survival.

I’m not very sure that at this particular juncture that anyone is intent on listening to logic or sincere advice.

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Government admits the ineffectiveness of censorship

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With six international human rights organizations releasing stinging reports on the freedom of expression in the Arab world, Bahrain was not spared any of that wrath. And deservedly so for the thousands of websites which have been blocked over the past ten years, a campaign which has intensified especially over the last few years. The government remains unmoved by these criticisms for the large part; although I’ve noticed that two of my sites have mysteriously been unblocked over the last few weeks. “Just Bahraini” the anti-sectarian website I created in 2006 to offer a form of rapprochement is presently unblocked and the Bahraini blogs aggregator too has been unblocked. I look forward to restoring their content soon and bringing them back to life. This is probably as sign that the government has finally discovered that its blocking policy is ineffective and people’s determination to reach blocked content remains largely unhindered.

Bahraini human rights, health and social affairs minister Fatima AlbalooshiAnother admission of the ineffectiveness of that medieval policy comes from one of the darling ministers of the regime – and as she currently holds three huge portfolios: Social Affairs, Health and Human Rights, has been locally dubbed as Super-Woman or Super-Minister, and rightly so too. When the right honorable lady was interviewed in her Human Rights capacity regarding this particular subject, she issued forth the following priceless gem:

ولدى سؤالها عن المواقع المحجوبة، قالت وزيرة حقوق الإنسان والتنمية الاجتماعية فاطمة البلوشي، خلال لقاء مع منظمة حقوقية دولية إنها «ليست مشكلة… ويمكن استخدام البروكسي».

My translation: And when she was asked about the blocked websites, the Minister of Human Rights and Social Affairs responded during a meeting with an international human rights organisation by saying it’s not a problem… a proxy could be used [to gain access]” [source]

With that issuance, the right honorable lady has squarely killed two bulls with a single bullet; the first is her apparent lack of understanding of the Internet in general, and the second being her flippant admission that people do use proxies to gain access to blocked content; hence, admitting in print that censoring the Internet is useless and futile, and her government is wrong for doing so in the first place.

A friend commented on this situation thusly:

safybh: @mahmood they can use proxy is the new they can eat biscuits.

Indeed!

With ministers like the right honorable Ms Albalooshi, this country simply cannot go wrong.

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Destroying a Revolution

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One of the most important ways to “win” a revolution in this day and age is the effective use of media tools and keeping your struggle peaceful. That wins you supporters both locally and internationally who can exert pressure on the ruling regime to elicit positive change. The minute that this struggle morphs into violence, that platform of support dissipates and the chances of a successful conclusion to the struggle for change evaporates.

Peace Dove written in Arabic CalligraphyThe recent escalation of violence which was undoubtedly translated form Isa Qassim’s last Friday prayer sermon is very worrying and most definitely does not serve the cause. What it does do is play into the hands of the hard-liners in the regime, giving them a gift they have all but lost hope of receiving.

A respected cleric like Isa Qassim should have known better than to allow his passions to boil over and he should have also known that his words will be taken to heart and each will interpret them to suit their own ends, all of which resolves into more violence which will rob the people’s struggles of their efficacy as well as sympathy.

I do hope that he will take the opportunity in his next Friday sermon to address these issues and urge the youth to return to their peaceful means of protesting. In the long run, violence of any kind will not serve any purpose. Peaceful protests and the effective use of media are key to winning not only a battle, but a whole war.

I do fervently hope, that Silmiyya will return, and along with it, a more urgent sense to get this country over its current climate of hate and mistrust.

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Just how long will “Silmiyya” last?

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Not very long, I think.

After close to 60 people giving their lives up for their country in under a year, with this number set to rise, by all indications, with thousands dismissed for their jobs for no good reason, for hundreds still in prison just for expressing their opinions and for untold police brutality and daily reports of various levels of abuse levied on unarmed men, women and children, people will start to retaliate if for nothing but to defend themselves.

Zainab Al-Khawaja being bodily dragged by policewomanAnd now, they’ve received the approbation to do so… and to crush anyone who abuses or perpetrates violence against women.

This, my friends, is not just an angry Friday sermon by the leading religious cleric here, this is an indication of the impasse that this country has reached. Patience, has run out. The rhetoric from both sides has been ratcheted up and with the first anniversary of the “Bahraini Revolution” on Feb 14 approaching, things will only get uglier if sane men and women don’t halt this probable descent into the abyss of civil war. Then, no winner shall be declared and it will be too late for even sincere efforts to repair a shattered society.

What is needed now, right now, is an honest look at the root causes of discontent and effect real change without the drag of personal, tribal, sectarian or any other biases to cloud actions to redress the balance and put this country back on to its rightful path.

Time, though, won’t wait for half-hearted measures or more placatory gestures.

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Redressing the wronged employees

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In this country, over a thousand have been dismissed from their positions for doing nothing other than expressing their opinions. Quite a number were fired for simply being Shi’a. My head just cannot get around this. Disregard, for the moment, the fact the as many households have been disadvantaged directly due to this despicable practice, how on earth do those who have ordered this heinous crime to be committed and those who condoned such collective punishment dream of this helping their cause, let alone the country as a whole? And how can others expect that with just another stroke of the pen that the damage will be contained and things will go back to normal? How can they ever think that the poisoned and poisonous atmospheres which have been created ever be effective again without the root causes be addressed first?

Yes, the king has ordered those dismissed to be re-instated. Apart from the fact that his order being ignored initially, then very reluctantly implemented with various conditions and reservations attached, people who have gone back found that they were forced into different – sometimes menial – positions and they have had to accept and sign humiliating contracts and accept the loss of back-pay as well as rescind any labour or court cases they might have raised against their employers.

The question is: did those who’ve dreamt up this revengeful scheme ever think that they would be allowed to get away with it? Did they mistake the times we’re living in to be medieval with disconnected fiefdoms and whatever they as overlords wish shall be done with alacrity and without any consequences?

If they have – and it appears that some certainly did – then the life they’re living is an isolated one in their own minds, and is of their own making.

How can this mess be fixed now?

If the offered fixes follow the perennial methods which treat symptoms rather than the causes, then their efficacy will be wanting. Nothing other than addressing root causes will work; the legal employment structure must be re-examined especially in the public sector, and I suggest the heads of the Civil Service Bureau be relieved of their duties for not standing up for their employees in the first instance. Second, adequate compensation for the wrongful dismissals and for the trauma those actions have caused and most importantly those responsible for giving out those despicable orders and their attached witch-hunting committees must be held to account, publicly. They have done untold damage to this country and its society. As such, they must be penalized and made example of so that this abrogation of responsibility and revengeful and criminal behaviour is never allowed to happen again.

Resolution won’t happen until these matters are adequately and ethically addressed.

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Unhone paisa kyon diya?

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I’ve started learning Urdu.

Which seems to have become the Official Primary Language of this country.

Why else would allegedly murdering policemen employed by our Ministry of Interior who have direct access to my fellow Arab-speaking citizens need a translator in our courts when giving testimony and denying any wrongdoing for the murders of two of my compatriots under torture? Torture which has been documented to have been perpetrated – allegedly, mind – by two of them while their other three Urdu-speaking brothers-in-arms were standing by probably watching them with glee lay into the wrongly imprisoned and now murdered Bahrainis?

Policemen deny role in deaths

By NOOR ZAHRA , Posted on » Thursday, January 12, 2012

FIVE policemen have denied causing the deaths of two anti-government protesters who were being held in custody during the unrest.

Two of the suspects, aged 43 and 31, have been accused of beating them to death with a plastic pipe on April 8, according to court documents.

Three other policemen have been charged with failing to report the alleged crime.

The suspects, all Pakistanis, appeared at the High Criminal Court for the first time yesterday.

Relatives of the victims, journalists and lawyers attended.

The men, who do not speak Arabic, denied the charges when asked by a translator if they were guilty.

They also claimed to have been beaten up, but did not specify who attacked them.

The trial was adjourned until January 30 to appoint lawyers for the suspects, who were not held in custody.

The policemen had earlier been charged by a military court with similar offenses. [GDN – 12 Jan 12]

They will probably claim innocence (wait, they have!) maybe because they didn’t understand the Bloody Bahrainis shouting “I didn’t do it” and “I’m innocent”. Maybe they should’ve bothered to learn Urdo in the first place which could’ve saved their skin. Literally.

Therefore, I humbly propose that our illustrious Ministry of Education should replace Arabic altogether with a curriculum of the beautiful (and life saving) language of Urdu. And the sooner they do that, the better, for all of us.

Woh sev khaa rahein hai woh raat bhar soteh rahein?

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Discoveries in my desk

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Now that I moved the furniture around – and I’m still login’ the new layout – I dug into various recesses of my desk which I have not even looked at for years and found some real gems hidden in there, and crap that I can’t believe I kept – like 3.5″ floppy disk labels, old tie-wraps and other junk. But a great find I did find and am so happy that I did are these beauties:

Old Bahraini coins of 10 fils, 25 fils, 50 fils and 100 fils - no longer in circulation

Isn’t that a find? 🙂

I don’t think that these coins are still in circulation. Note the 10 fils, 25 fils (used to love that one), 50 fils and 100 fils coins. The grime on them is authentic too!

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Out with the old…

No no, this is not a political post. I’m (almost) fed up of that crap. Instead, this is just to share with you what I’ve done to my office today in celebration of a new year and a determination to grab this year and bend it to my will 🙂

Mahmood's Office remodelled

I frankly got fed up of “the desk in the middle of the room” where people have to sit across from each other as if awaiting to do battle with each other and the desk being the main feature of a room. So I decided to shove my trusty 19-year-old desk against the wall and open up the centre of the room. Now, my visitors can sit with me in the office without that huge imposing bulk between us. I feel that the room is now much more welcoming. I do hope the new decor make people more at ease when they visit.

Also to celebrate the new year, I decided to get a brand spankin’ new Apple 27-inch Thunderbirdbolt display and connected it to my MacBook Air. Now I can see!! Wow, the pictures are truly amazing and the videos are worth watching. I can now happily edit my HDR photographs and edit my videos with ease. Me so happy! Thanks to my friends at iMachines for being super quick in delivering the display and providing it a reasonable cost too.

So who amongst you are going to be my first visitor in the new office?

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2012, come ON already!

There is no doubt in my mind that 2011 will be remembered for a very long time. In it, I have grown a lot through the tumultuous times I’ve lived through, as has hundreds of thousands of my compatriots. Like thousands of others too, I have been wrongly imprisoned. Dragged from my home by a gang of masked and heavily armed mixture of uniformed and out of uniform members of the what I suppose were security forces, without any regard to due process.

My home was invaded at 3 am, my family terrorized, several items taken from my home without authority or record: computer, camera, memory cards, hard disks, cds, DVDs, and most importantly over 50 video tapes holding precious memories collected over the lifetime of my children. What they would do with videos of a personal nature like birthday parties and schools concerts is beyond me. None of those items to date have been returned, and it’s been nine months. If the government is that much deficient in compute power and digital imaging, then I don’t mind them keeping the hardware, but I would appreciate them returning the memories! I’ve tried, several times to retrieve them but all I got was the infinite runaround.

2011. I’d say that the absolute and most tragic thing of that year were the glaring missed chances for reconciliation. Opportunities continue to present themselves  since the very first movement of Feb 14, 2011 to the minute that I’m typing these words; however, they are willingly being squandered and missed by the ruling regime primarily as they hold the keys almost exclusively to resolve this situation. However, there are other agendas at play it seems which usurp the basic human requirements of living with dignity and peace.

Enough. For goodness’ sake enough!

2012. I’m not naive enough to hope that the new year will be any better. In fact, it’s shaping up to be even worse than ’11.

People have had it. They’ve had it with the heavy handedness and unwarranted use of force for the slightest infraction. This has turned even the moderates and politically uninterested against the regime and they – the regime – are not doing itself any favours whatsoever by continuing with this policy. Obfuscation won’t do either. What is required is real political will to resolve this situation which includes the acceptance of relaxing their grip on power for the better of the country, and ironically, the serve the sustainability of their reign too.

If you can, have a wonderful 2012.

I know I shall give it a proper go.

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