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Hussam Al-Haddad, 16yo Bahraini boy killed by Bahraini police

Another young soul is extinguished. Courtesy of the Bahraini police.

The crime? Demonstrating for social justice. Democracy. Freedoms.

He purportedly threw Molotov cocktails at a police car. The police’s response was brutal and inhumane. According to eye-witnesses he was shot in the back and beaten to a pulp by uniformed and out of uniform individuals, said to be undercover policemen. There is no way to know their identity, who they work for, and who authorises them to habitually brutally assault civilians.

To me, this is a heinous. This is once again an unwarranted excessive use of force, but was also a complete absence of humanity, all perpetrated by the impunity the police and their cohorts enjoy as a matter of course, resulting in assured injustice visited upon the citizens of this country.

This is the Bahraini government’s Eid gift to a broken nation.

And they talk about dialogue and rapprochement to bridge the gap. I’m afraid that gap has developed into a chasm that needs the likes of the United Nations to help bridge. On our own, I don’t think this is doable by using our own means any more. Trust and goodwill are well and truly destroyed now.


Moses & Jesus playing golf

Moses & Jesus playing golf

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“Moses and Jesus are playing golf.  Moses steps up to the tee and hits a beautiful shot 250 yards, straight down the middle of the fairway.  Jesus steps up to the tee and hooks the ball into the trees.  Jesus looks up into the heavens, raises his arms.  Suddenly, the sky darkens.  A thunderclap rings out.  Rain pours down and a stream rises among the trees.  The golf ball, floating on top, finds its way into the mouth of a fish.  Then a bird flies down and takes the fish and the ball out over the green, drops it in the cup for a hole in one.  Jesus turns to Moses with a satisfied grin and Moses says, ‘Look, want to play golf or do you want to fuck around?”

The Newsroom :: Episode 3

Sounds like a speech that the Opposition and the Regime might be having, with hands on hips, holsters unbuckled and revolvers loaded with one having a half worn golfing glove while the plebs, hands on hearts and the other having its finger nails chomped feverishly to see what they will have to suffer next.

Welcome to Bahrain politics!


Unneeded Escalation

Unneeded Escalation

I don’t write as often here not because the absence of rich material to blog about, but after so many years of doing so, I feel that I’m now seriously in a “broken record” mode. I feel that I’ve written about so many similar situations over the past ten years and have given the same advice and held on to the same hope that things will change for the better. Soon. Only to be disappointed time and again.

Here’s a clear example. What I warned against has not only become reality, but has all the hallmarks of escalating and actually becoming the norm:

4 Policemen Injured in Home-made Bomb Blast in Bahrain

At least four policemen were injured on Saturday in a bomb attack in a Bahraini Shiite neighborhood, the country’s Interior Ministry said.

It is the third attack targeting policemen in less than a month, according to the ministry.

“Four policemen were injured, one of them was in critical condition, in a terror blast in Bani Jamra,” said the ministry.

Last month, five policemen were injured after a home-made bomb exploded near the Sitra police station ahead of the F1 Grand Prix 2012 in Bahrain.

On April 9, three policemen sustained serious injuries after a bomb made with petrol exploded in East Eker, close to Sitra.

The country also witnessed armed robberies targeting money exchange recently.

At least two cases have been registered as masked gunmen entered money exchange outlets in Riffa and Salmabad and took over 25,000 BD (about 66,300 U.S. dollars).

On April 29, a gym owned by Bahraini MP Osama Al Tamimi came under attack allegedly due to his outspoken criticism against the government. Police then found 30 bullets scattered around the gym, but no one was injured.

Need I say more?

I find it more satisfying and rewarding blogging about gardening instead of this crap.


Why do most armed robberies happen in Riffa?

Why do most armed robberies happen in Riffa?

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Riffa is the seat of power. It is the chosen home of the monarchy. It is one of those areas reserved for the chosen ones and part of the population are barred ownership for some unknown reason. One would be forgiven to think that it should be safe, don’t you think?

But no. Most, if not all armed robberies happen in Riffa!

Here’s the latest iteration. A gun slinger calmly walks into a money exchangers (it being owned by the wrongly beleaguered Jawad Business Group might, might, be a coincidence) points the gun at the cashier and demands (calmly) money, then some more, walks backwards and walks away with BD5,000 (about US$13,260) for his trouble. And all in the full view of security cameras recording all of his moves, his clothes and other identifying details. So it should be easy for the police to nab him, right? Especially if you consider their alacrity in catching de uddar crims.

But will this criminal ever be caught do you think?

Highly unlikely.

Bahrain has certainly become a haven for them, and only those who are actually law abiding, or demanding of their rights, live in perpetual fear.

Criminals? They have nothing to be concerned about.


Hmmm… I smell even worse civil strife coming up!

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I’m just disenchanted with the whole stupid situation in this country. I’m not that interested in the internal politics any more because the version of politics we currently have is built on a win-lose strategy rather than exercising the art of mediation and arriving at a common ground to resolve this country’s problems. What we have now is not only posturing from both sides, but a ratcheting up of the useless rhetoric which got an already polarized population be even further entrenched in diametrically opposing camps.

The result?

Is a real danger of violence and absence of safety and security for all. This is just a sample of what happened last night near the village of Nuwaidrat, at the ALBA roundabout, were a group of Sunni vigilantes armed with planks of wood, swords and other assorted weapons in full sight of the security forces, taking the law into their own hands and attacking peaceful people who happen to be in the area… and who happen to be determined as Shia.

The film is entitled “اشاوس الرفاع عند مدخل قرية النويدرات الشيعيه” – “The Riffa braves at the entrance of the Shia Nuwaidrat village” and starts with one of the thugs calling “وينكم يا عيال المتعة؟” “Where are you o children of pleasure” while another shouts “وينكم يا جبناء” “where are you, you cowards” and yet another calls out “وينكم يالروافظ” “where are you o ‘rawafudh'” a derogatory term used against Shia Muslims, and it goes on the same ilk. All in the presence of security forces who seem to have been quite contained and exercised excellent self-restraint. Both qualities appear to be completely dispensed with when they put down any demonstration in any Shia environs.

It didn’t stop there. They went further and once again attacked the 24 Hour Market, an enterprise owned by Jawad Business Group, simply because its owners are Shia. This is not the first – and the in the absence of measures to stop the very much known and recorded perpetrators of those attacks – it won’t be the last either. Targeting Jawad as well as other Shi’a merchants is the norm now.

Why is this happening?

Good question.

The immediate explanation on last night’s incident seemed to have been prompted with an attack on the police around Al-Ekr village near Sitra in which a homemade pipe-bomb was used against the police. Official reports confirm seven policemen injured, three of them seriously. According to the press this morning, four suspects have been apprehended so far. While the escalation of violence and the first time usage of such lethal devices are extremely concerning and in no way condoned, it is as equally worrying having vigilantes and mobs taking the law in their own hands and wreaking havoc across the land.

How do they hope to reconcile violence with violence? How can they tie the attempted murder of policemen with overturning two cars for just the suspicion of its occupants being from the other sect? How do they equate their actions with demonstrating support to the ruling regime and the police? If anything, they immeasurably weaken the whole country, and give fuel to the rising voices wanting to cancel the Bahrain F1, an event which has the potential of doing good and bringing even temporary joy to this country.

Now, the other side is going to retaliate. There is no question of that. This weekend, we’ll see pyres of smoke across the horizon by the further burning of tyres, blocking highways, the nightly skirmishes with the police will intensify and goodness knows how many will fall injured and how many will succumb to those injuries.

The solution, once again, is quite simple. Nothing is going to fix this situation other than a comprehensive and honest dialogue in which the opposition is truly represented and attended by decision makers from the regime. Face-to-face.

Thrash the issues out for the sake of the country and its people. We’re quite sick and tired of your childish and utterly naive politicking. You both know what the bones of contention are, so get them resolved and take a position in which Bahrain is considered first, rather than your own myopic and completely unwarranted vision.

Otherwise, the situation will be as that thug who shouted at the end of the clip will happen. His invitation was: “Now let’s go to Ma’ameer and Sitra”. The sad truth is that it won’t stop there… the strife will definitely spread, but its spread will be like a wild fire in dry brush. Nothing will stop it until the whole country is burnt to a crisp, and no one – regardless of orientation – will have survive it.


Media bias…

I’ve been so busy over the last couple of months that I haven’t had time to blog. I miss it, of course, but with everything that’s going on at the moment, the despondency, the collective depression, the accusations, the deceit, the denial, and the hostile environment have discouraged me from doing so. It won’t last. Like everything in life, all of those have got to end, one way or another. At some point, we – or a future generation – will look back and probably say something like: “what a bunch of morons! why couldn’t they sort their shit out in a better and faster way.”

Apart from not blogging, I just couldn’t be bothered to read the papers. I glance at headlines at the end of the day, rather than poison my whole existence with the crap that is written. I do that with almost all the local papers, but get my “real” news from foreign sources. Unfortunate, but I’ve learnt that the local press has an agenda far worse that I have initially and naively thought.

So it’s with a slightly amused grin that I read today’s headlines which could be summarized in what the illustrious GDN has printed, not a stalwart of journalism, that paper isn’t, but my parakeet enjoys messing around with it at the bottom of its cage. Anyway, here’s the bit that amused me:

The Western media has been unfair to Bahrain’s Shi’ites by making it appear that they were all against their homeland, while the truth is that very few may have been affected by calls of “Welayat Al Faqeeh” (theocracy). His Majesty King Hamad said this yesterday as he received, at Al Safriya Palace, Arab media and Press personalities taking part in the Arab Youth Media Forum. [source]

Some of the Western media might have been so, your majesty, but the real real problem is the local media. The clear hate-mongering perpetrated by the likes of the Alwatan, GDN, Daily Tribune, Akbar Alkhaleej, Alayam and even the puny Albilad have left this country and society ripped asunder and have not allowed any reconciliation to take place. It is them your Majesty, and I say this with complete humility, it is them who should be singled out for your displeasure, if not wrath, not the Western media.

I find that the only credible newspaper here is Alwasat, at least they allow differing views and contain themselves to non-sensationalism. But yes, even it sometimes falls into the trap.


Bahrain, a year on

I don’t have much to add about the situation in Bahrain with the first anniversary of the Bahraini Spring just three days away other than to reiterate that there still is no honest attempt to find a solution and get us on the path of reconciliation.

The general “wisdom” seems to be to crush the spirit of protests and demands for a better and more equitable future. Well, that ain’t gonna happen. So better take that fact on board, comprehend it, understand it, embrace it and think of what’s best for this country, rather than just a few individuals.

Like everyone else, I’m fed up of this situation too, but I’ll be damned if I would simply give up my rights for a better future and to be treated as an equal human being.

Deal with it.

On the 14th of February 2012, I shall be remembering and honoring the martyrs of this country who sacrificed their very lives in order for us all to have a better life.

They shall never be forgotten.


Albawasil need protection!

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And so they should.

A security officer’s job is thankless, hard and requires intelligence, self-control, continuous training and much empathy with people of all walks of life. They also continuously have to make tough choices which must always fall within the rule of law; hence, their continuous appropriate training is critical. The title of “albawasil” – the courageous ones – which is given to them is not undeserved.

They must also continuously be on their best behaviour and must curtail and suppress animalistic instincts and urges to viciously respond to difficult situations with excessive use of force. As security officers, they know that they are always held to much higher standards than the persons they are paid to protect. It is a very tough and demanding job indeed. Not everyone is cut out to be one of the cadres of the Bawasil.

Unfortunately the above description does not wholly apply to the security forces in this country, as much as I would dearly love it be so.

Some of the security officers here do anything but suppress their urges, as witnessed by hundreds of videos on the Internet clearly showing them breaking the very laws they are employed to protect. The BICI itself reserved a large proportion of its findings to clearly show the intransigence of some of the security forces, the contempt they held citizens in and the havoc they wreaked since February last year which so far resulted in five confirmed deaths under torture while in custody and tens killed and attributed to their interventions.

Empathy, on the police’s part, seem to be completely lacking both in the local and foreign cadres. With some of the officers being Bahraini, one would think that they would be more empathetic; hence, act in a better and more humane fashion toward their charges, or in the least act within the bounds of international human rights and norms. That empathy, if it exists in the local cadres, seem to be evidently absent in the foreign recruits. With the vast majority of the MoI’s cadres being foreign and ignorant of our norms and language, how can they even begin to be empathetic to the citizens of this country? Is it a wonder then that they themselves resorted to their own embassies for protection rather than raise their concerns with their own superiors? Of course not. They sought empathy from their countries and brethren as any normal human would; but what they’ve demonstrated by that single action is show that their loyalty does not reside with their employer, let alone to the country that provides for their livelihoods. With that irresponsible action, they’ve also clearly demonstrated the fact that they do not hold their employers in much regard and trust, or at least, they must have recognised that those superiors would not provide them the needed succor and protection. For that, they resorted to their own embassies.

The Cabinet seems to have taken note of their fears and thought of doing something pro-active to address them by proposing tougher sentences on those who attack the police:

The Cabinet yesterday endorsed the compilation of a new bill to ensure stricter punishment for those who attack policemen. According to the suggested amendments, a penalty of 15 years in prison would be awarded to both inciters and attackers.

The Cabinet tasked the body concerned to prepare the necessary legal papers and refer the bill to the Legislative authority.

The decision was made after Interior Minister Lt General Shaikh Rashid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa presented a comprehensive document on the growing violence in the Kingdom.

Prime Minister HRH Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa said that the mounting violence, which resulted in injuries to security personnel in the Kingdom, must be encountered and halted.

He spoke as he chaired the regular Cabinet meeting.
The Cabinet then expressed sorrow in view of growing provocative calls to attack policemen in the Kingdom. [source]

I have no quarrel in principle for the cabinet to demand these increased penalties and I hope that these won’t be open-ended measures which could haphazardly open the doors for further abuse of rights. There is a question of degrees however. With 15 years nominally being a life sentence, isn’t the proposed penalty non-consistent with those limits? Or are there now consequent moves afoot to increase the other sentences to be in concert with this proposal?

With these tough sentences being proposed, it would have been an opportune moment to also remind police personnel that although the government is very keen to protect their safety, it is also the government’s foremost responsibility, as it is their’s, to protect the rights of the individual and it will hold them as security personnel of all ranks to a much higher standard of conduct. There is a real fear that this new proposal might increase the sense of unassailability, and impunity as the BICI report has confirmed, if penalties are considered like this without putting them in the proper frame of reference.

The Cabinet should have also dealt with the police’s loyalty issue, for those who sought the protection of foreign embassies have shown complete contempt for this Kingdom. Can we expect those very police personnel to then acquiesce to orders given by foreign leaders against instructions issued by the hierarchy of this country? I would have thought that the criticality of this issue should have been paramount in the Cabinet’s agenda. Ironically, its resolution is simplicity itself: hire local born and bred Bahrainis to have the honor to serve their flag and their leadership and phase out the foreign cadres with our generous thanks and help them transition to lead pleasant old lives in their own countries.

Another opportunity that the government might have considered through its judicial branch is to demonstrate to us citizens that no one is above the law. Just as it is expedient to apply the law onto those who attack the police, it is as such for those in power who abuse their positions, regardless of whomever they are. With over 80 current cases referred to the Public Prosecutor of police brutality and abuse of power ranging from killing protestors in their charges to torture and wrongful imprisonment, I can’t remember a case where a policeman was penalized – or even censured – for his or her wrongful actions, and I’m not talking about the known torturers who were let slip through due to Law 56 of 2002 either.

I pray for the protection of every single policeman and woman doing their honorable duty in this country and elsewhere around the world. Done properly and within the bounds of human rights, they are the vanguard of safety and security. They are the key to continued peace and stability in any country and they should – indeed, must – be protected physically, legislatively and mentally for their sacrifices, but not at the cost of their impunity. Having mechanisms to independently police the police will help them maintain that peace and tranquility that every society craves.

I also pray for the safety and security of every single citizen and resident of this country from violence and brutality howsoever those may occur and dream of a day where we all bask in the protection of universal human rights, equitable and honorable lives.

I beseech everyone, everyone, in light of the approach of the first anniversary of the Bahraini Spring, to stay calm and think of what is best for this pained and fractured country and its people and get those thoughts to transcend personal prejudices and hate. Think of resolution and rapprochement rather than pour even more fuel on already raging fires.


A glimmer of light at the end of a rather dark tunnel

A group of Bahrainis gathered this morning at Al-Uruba Club, one of the oldest cultural clubs and apparently on their own initiative, to work out a plan to rescue this country from the various ills that has befallen this country. The meeting was led by the highly respected Dr Ali Fakhro, scholar, an ex-minister who held two of the most important portfolios of Education and Health who delivered the following opening speech which set the agenda and objectives of this gathering:

كلمة الدكتور علي فخرو في اجتماع اللقاء الوطني بنادي العروبة

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

ايها الاخوة والاخوات

اهلا بكم في هذا الاجتماع الوطني الجامع ، باسم الوطن كله ، ومن اجل كل شعبه ، بل من اجل كل فرد فيه ، دون منة ودون شروط ، واسمحوا لي ان اقدم خلفية ومقترحات ،ارجو ان تعيننا على اجراء مداولات ايجابية ناجحة هذا الصباح

اولا : لسنا بحزب ولا بجمعية سياسية ولا حتى تكتل سياسي وانما نحن مواطنون نحضر بصفتنا الشخصية البحتة ولا نمثل اي جهة قد ننتمي اليها ، لقد دفعنا الى هذا الاجتماع خوفنا على هذا الوطن الذي يعيش محنة الانقسام بكل انواعه ، ومشاعر التعصب الاعمى غير المنضبط بدين سمح او اخلاق انسانية رفيعة بكل انواعها وكذلك الممحاكات السياسية الت يؤججها اعداء البحرين وتغذيها جهات انتهازية او نفعية او جاهلة .
Dr Ali Fakhro
ثانيا : لقد تدارست مجموعة من اخوانكم واخواتكم المجتمعين معكم اليوم الاوضاع المأساوية التي ذكرتها اعلاه عبر اسابيع طويلة ، وقد ارتأوا ضرورة وجود صوت عاقل جامع ليقترح على اطراف المجتمع المختلفة فيما بينها ، وعلى الاخص السياسية منها ، يقترح عليهم الجلوس مع بعضهم البعض وبحضور ممثلين عنكم ان وافق جمعيهم على ذلك ، من اجل ان يتدارسوا امكانية الاتفاق على مطالب ومقترحات وطنية مشتركة في حدها الادنى المشترك على الاقل ولينقلوها بدورهم الى جهات السلطة المعنية في الدولة من اجل مناقشتها مع تلك الجهات والاتفاق ان امكن على حدود دينا يقبل بها الجميع ( المجتمع والدولة ) للخروج من الازمة الحالية الى رحاب استكمال المسيرة الاصلاحية الديموقراطية الدستورية البرلمانية الهادفة لخير الجميع العادلة مع الجميع ، الآخذة بعين الاعتبار مصالح الجميع

ثالثا : ولان هناك ضرورة لوجود ورقة ينطلق منها النقاش اثناء اجتماع القوى السياسية المجتمعية التي نرجو ان توافق على الاجتماع ØŒ فإننا رأينا ان نقترح عليكم ان توافقوا معنا – مع حريتكم التامة في الرفض او التعديل – ان ينطلق النقاش من النقاط السبع التي اطلقها سمو ولي العهد في فبراير 2011 ØŒ وبالطبع فإن المجتمعين سيكون لهم الحق التام في تعديل تلك المبادرة ،اضافة او انتقاصا او فهما مشتركا لمحتويات بنودها التفصيلية طالماان ذلك التعديل سيكون حصيلة مناقشات المجتمعين واتفاقهم

لقد اعتمد مقترحنا هذا على ان مبادرة سمو الشيخ سلمان هي ارضية معقولة ومقبولة من الكثير وصالحة للاخذ والعطاء وتعبر في مجملها عن قبول كثير من جهات اتخاذ القرار في الدولة على الاقل لغالب ما تقوله وتقترحه .

رابعا : اذا اتفق المجتمعون في ذلك القاء حول مطالب سياسية صالحة لهذه المرحلة من مسيرة البحرين الديموقراطية ، ولنتذكر ان الديموقراطية هس سرورة لها بداية وليس لها نهاية ، فإنهم يستطيعون تكوين وفد ليتقدم بتلك المطالب للجهات المعينة في نظامنا السياسي من اجل مناقشتها ومحاولة اقناعها بتبني تلك المطالب وتنفيذها ضمن جدول زمني وخطوات تراكمية لا تراجع عنها قط

خامسا : نقترح على الاخوة الحاضرين ان ينتخبوا عددا يتراح بين عشرين وثلاثين شخصا ليكونوا لجنة تنسيق ومتابعة تقوم بالاتصالات بكل القوى السياسية والجهات الوطنية المعنية من اجل اقناعها بكل ما ذكر سابقا ومن اجل حضور اعضائها كممثلين عنكم ان تمت الاجتماعات المشتركة

وستكون اللجنة مطالبة بأن تبقى على صلة وثيقة بكم كجمعية عمومية وان صحت التسمية بدعوتكم للاجتماع اذا لزم الامر لاعلامكم بنتائج ما تقوم به وللحصول على موافقتكم ان احتاجت الى وظائف جديدة تقوم بها باسمكم .

سادسا : ان لم نوفق في هذا المسعى فإن الامر سيرجع لكم : تغييرا للاهداف والوسائل او الاكتفاء بما تم وترك الامور للآخرين ،وعند ذاك نكون قد قمنا بواجبنا كمواطنين حتى لا يسجل التاريخ علينا اننا رأينا الوطن وهو يحترق دون ان نحاول ان نقوم بواجبنا لاخراجه من محنته

سابعا : واخيرا رجاء حار ان نبتعد هذا الصباح عن شتم او تحقير ايا كان واي جهة كانت وان نركز على الموضوع الذي جئنا من اجله ، اننا لسنا في مهرجان خطابة وانما في اجتماع لايجاد وسائل وحلول ، فاعينونا على ذلك ، ولنتذكر اننا يجب ان نرتفع فوق الانقسامات ونبتعد عن المهاترات ويكفي الوطن ما يفعهله به بعض المتورين والجهلة والانتهازيين .وبعبارة موجزة نحن معنيين في هذه المرحلة بالاتصال بكل الجمعيات المعنية لحثها على التواصل والاتفاق على مطالب مشتركة ولسنا معنييين حاليا بالاتصال بالجهات الرسمية فقد يأتي ذلك في وقت لاحق مع الآخرين ان امكن او بدونهم ان رغبتم في ذلك في اجتماعات قادمة

لكم التحية ، لكم محبة وطنكم وشعبكم ، والله ندعوه ان يجزيكم الف خير

والسلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته
د . على محمد فخرو
اللقاء الوطني
نادي العروبة
28 / 1 / 2012

English translation by Dr Mike Diboll – with many thanks!

The Speech of Dr. Ali Fakhro at a Meeting of the “National Encounter” Group Held at the Al Uruba Club

In the name of God the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

Oh Brothers and Sisters,

Welcome to this comprehensive National Encounter, held in the name of the entire nation, for the sake of all its people, and for every individual without favour, without preconditions. Allow me present the background to this meeting and its recommendations. Kindly assist us by ensuring that our deliberations this morning proceed in a positive and successful manner.

Firstly, we are not a political party or association, nor are we even political grouping. Rather, we here purely as private citizens are preparing we do not represent any viewpoint to which we might have allegiance. What has motivated us to call this meeting is our fear for our nation which is suffering from every kind of tribulation, division, and fanatical sentiment and blind bigotry unmitigated by any consideration of tolerance or higher human ethics, and political intrigue promoted by the enemies of Bahrain, fed by opportunism and ignorant self-interest.

Secondly, the brothers and sisters gathered here today have carefully studied the tragic conditions mentioned over long and arduous weeks. They have perceived the necessity of a comprehensively acceptable Voice of Reason that can propose to parties from the various communities, in particular political groupings, to sit together in the presence of trusted representatives in order to frame a set of minimum national demands and proposals that are commonly agreed. These in turn can be presented to the relevant state authorities in order to discuss them with the parties concerned, and reach agreement on them if possible along lines acceptable to all stakeholders from both state and society. This is so we may find a way out of the current crisis, magnanimously completing the forward march of parliamentary democracy and constitutional reform aimed at the fair for the good of everyone in the interests of all.

Thirdly, we hope to call a meeting of political and community groups. There must therefore be a document upon which discussion can proceed. Accordingly, it is our suggestion — and you are fully free to agree with us on this suggestion, or reject or amend it — that the discussion commences with discussion of the seven proposals put forward by His Highness the Crown Prince in February 2011. Naturally, the meeting will have the absolute right to amend this initiative, or add to it or subtract from it, or to formulate a common understanding as to its contents, so that the detailed amendments would be the outcome of the discussions the two communities and subject to their agreement. The principles put forward by His Highness Sheikh Salman form the basis of our proposal as they are a reasonable ground for discussion, acceptable to many, and subject to some give and take should render most of what we propose acceptable to many of the state’s decision-makers.

Fourthly, should those gathered at that meeting reach agreement on a set of political demands that are appropriate to this stage in Bahrain’s progress toward democracy, we should remember that while democracy is blessed with a beginning it has in fact no final outcome. Therefore, those gathered should be able to form delegation to present those demands of the appropriate parts of our political system in order to discuss the demands with them and try to persuade them to adopt these demands, implementing them within an agreed timescale, according to a cumulative timeframe which is absolutely irreversible.

Fifthly, we suggest the brothers here present elect a number between twenty and thirty persons to be a coordinating committee following up contacts with all political forces and national stakeholders in order to convince them regarding all that has been mentioned above, and to ensure that its members, as your representatives, conduct joint meetings. It is demanded that the committee will need to remain in close association with you as a general grouping to arrange the public naming of the group, and to invite you to meetings as necessary and to inform you of the outcomes of our activities and to obtain your consent for new roles undertaken on your behalf.

Sixthly, should we be unable to reach any agreement this endeavor, the matter will return to you: this could mean a change of goals or methods, or leaving the matter to others. However, what is essential is that we do our duty as citizens, so that history cannot record against us that we saw our nation aflame, but did nothing to relieve our country from its tribulation.

Seventhly, and finally, it is our ardent hope this morning that we disregard slurs and insults from whatever any party they may arise, so that we may focus on the matter in hand. We are not attending a festival of rhetoric, but are meeting in order to find ways forward and solutions.

Let us fix our sight on that. Let us remember that we must rise above all that divides us, we must banish the vituperation, wrangling and bickering that are harming our nation, we must save our nation from what some hypocrites, ignoramuses and opportunists are putting it through.

In short, we are at this stage concerned to communicate with all groupings, urging them to communicate with one another and agree on common demands. We are not at this stage concerned with communicating with official parties, although this may come about at a later date, possibly involving others, or without them, according to you wishes at further meetings.
Greetings to you all, you are all patriotic and have love for your people. God reward you a thousand-fold.

May peace and God’s mercy and blessings be upon you.

Dr. Ali Mohammed Fakhro
The National Encounter
Al Uruba Club
28th January 2012

The essence of the action here is to define a route to get back to the negotiation table using the Crown Prince’s agreed principles of discussion which he announced in February last year which are:

    1. A fully representative parliament with exclusive legislative authority
    2. An elected and representative cabinet
    3. Equitable electoral districts
    4. Review of Naturalisation Laws
    5. Address administrative and financial corruption
    6. Review sovereign wealth
    7. Address the sectarian impasse

According to reports, some 200 people attended the Uruba Club gathering and 21 were elected to form a committee under the leadership of Dr Ali Fakhro who was elected as Chairman. The others who signed the founding document were Dr. Ali Fakhro, Jassim Murad, Hameed Ali Abdulla, Radhi Al-Mousawi, Ubaidly Alubaidly, Shawqi Alalawi, Mariam Alruai’ie, Abdulmonem Alshirawi, Yousif Zainal, Dr. Mohammed Isa Alkuwaiti, Jameel Alalawi, Ali Rabi’ea, Saeed Alasbool, Abdulla Mutawiee’, Esmat Almousawi, Dr. Wedad Kaiksow, Dr. Hasan Madan, Dr. Hasan Alaali, and Abdulhasan Alhasan. All of these people are luminaries of society and are known for their patriotic stances away from sectarianism which gives this particular committee credibility to try to bridge the chasm and hopefully find a solution.

I wish them all the best of luck. There is an awful lot of hard work to be done yet, and with the first anniversary of Feb 14 approaching fast, things will get very ugly if even a glimmer of resolution is not seen.

I hope that this is the genuine glimmer that everyone is hoping for.

Main sources for this article: Esmat Almousawi on Facebook and @HameedAlmulla‘s Twitter feed
Edit 30 Jan 2012 @ 19:58 to include English translation by Dr Mike Diboll


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.