Tag Archives #feb14

Systematic Torture in Bahrain continues with impunity

For those denialists who maintain that the BICI report is nothing but something to paper over the cracks temporarily so that the status quo is not ultimately disturbed, have a look at this. Maybe if you have a few atoms of humanity left in you, it might help you remove that veil off your conscience and see things for what they are:

This incident – amongst hundreds of others currently being meted out to the majority of villages in this country – should be independently investigated and the officers implicated and their masters who are doing nothing to stop this must be made to account for their actions and be punished. The government who oversees this situation should be summarily dismissed of course and with haste. Nothing else would do if that illusive “new page” is to become a reality.

There is not doubt in my mind that torture and inhumane treatment of citizens is systematic in this country. How can trust be re-established if this situation is not correctly addressed? How can the willing to co-exist happen? And having a truth and reconciliation effort with this background is completely ludicrous and inconceivable.

You had the initiative when the BICI report was first released. You slept on it and created unneeded committees ill-advisedly, now we see the value of these actions and delays.

You want unity? Then have the strength and courage to stare people in the eye and enact real reforms that will bring accountability to every single position in government regardless of tribal and familial relationships.

Who’s listening though? It certainly quite evident at this very moment that the blood of those punished citizens simply for demanding their rights does not come into any consideration.


Update 1112171357: Marc Owen Jones has an excellent analysis and shows this event from five different camera angles which leave absolutely no shred of doubt as to what happened:

http://www.marcowenjones.byethost2.com/?p=446

Update 2: Due to the outcry over this incident, the Ministry of Interior has reported through its Twitter account that it has suspended some officers involved in this incident and mounting an investigation. I demanded in a return tweet that all of those implicated must have their names and ranks be declared in order for them to serve as an example of what not to do to their ranks.

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Wait oh Saar fire….

A local saying immediately popped into my mind as I read these words in today’s Al-Wasat:

وطالبت لجنة الحقوق الدينية في وزارة الخارجية الأميركية بـ «تقديم أي من المسئولين في الحكومة البحرينية الذين ثبت تورطهم في انتهاكات صارخة للحرية الدينية إلى العدالة ومعاقبتهم بموجب القانون، ويجب على الحكومة البحرينية إصدار اعتذار رسمي لتدمير العشرات من دور العبادة، وهو الأمر الذي وجدت اللجنة البحرينية المستقلة لتقصي أنه ينتهك بوضوح القانون البحريني والدولي»

 

and represented in this official statement from USCIRF:

 

Soon after the release of the BICI report, King Hamad al-Khalifa appointed a committee to review how to implement the report’s recommendations. The committee is expected to report back to the King in February.

USCIRF urges the committee to address the following concerns during its review of the BICI’s recommendations:

  • The report recommends the government of Bahrain should “consider rebuilding, at its expense, some of the demolished religious structures in accordance with administrative regulations.” USCIRF is concerned that the government may rebuild only a few of the religious structures with legal permits and decrees, and not many of the other structures. In consultation with the Shi’a community, the government of Bahrain should restore or rebuild all the structures that were illegally destroyed;
  • The report does not address the loss and destruction of religious materials in some of the demolished structures. The Bahraini government should restore, replace, or compensate the local Shi’a community for the loss of these materials;
  • The report’s findings do not address allegations by multiple human rights groups that some individual members of the Shi’a community were harassed, interrogated, and arrested for returning to some of the destroyed sites to pray or retrieve religious materials. These allegations should be addressed and officials responsible should be reprimanded and held to account;
  • Any Bahraini government officials found to have committed severe religious freedom abuses should be brought to justice and punished under the law; and
  • The Bahraini government should issue a formal apology to the Shi’a community for destroying dozens of religious structures that the BICI found clearly violates Bahraini and international law.

“USCIRF welcomes the King’s decision to establish the BICI, as well as his public announcement that the government intends to rebuild Shi’a places of worship. It is important that these structures be rebuilt in close consultation with the local Shi’a community and not unilaterally,” said Leo.

The emphasis is mine and the cause of my raised eyebrows and that idiom popping into my mind. To represent it fully, the idiom goes:

Wait oh Saar fire for water from Hnainia

Saar being a village in the north of the island while Hnainia is in the south. We use that expression to represent the improbability (or even impossibility) of an event ever happening…

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Crowdsourcing BICI’s report


Commission's Chair Professor Mahmood Sharif Bassiouni

Overall, from the various tweets I’ve seen and the snippets I’ve already read from the report, there are inconsistencies in incidents I attended personally but notwithstanding that, I believe – so far – that it’s balanced enough and can serve as a catalyst for real change in this country if it is adopted immediately and transparently. Heads MUST roll, the first of which is the Minister of the Interior for him and his ministry botching the whole affair and holding the country in terror for all this time. As the cabinet did not take any meaningful action, I believe they should do the honorable thing and summarily resign. If they don’t the king should fire them all without delay.

Thank you Professor Bassiouni and the other commissioners for taking our affairs seriously.

Now with 501 pages, the BICI Report takes a lot of reading. I propose that we start posting interesting snippets or facts drawn from it here to create our own executive summary. Click here to download it, read it and I look forward to your comments.

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The Source of Instability

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Secretary Clinton encouraged both Bahrain and Saudi to embrace the Arab Spring. I do hope that they do because it IS in their best interest t do so. What we actually see on the ground now; however, is abstinence and a deep sense of denial. It’s almost as if some in both countries’ administration are refusing to believe that the Arab Spring has arrived at their shores and that it could never happen to them. For those still in disbelief, she had these wise words:

“The greatest single source of instability in today’s Middle East is not the demand for change,” she said, “It is the refusal to change.”

ArabianBusiness.com

These words should have jerked them awake to the fact that the US administration (and the democratic world) recognizes that they are the biggest rocks in the path to democratic change. To me, what’s veiled within them as well is the somewhat diplomatic warning that if they don’t embrace such change and acquiesce to their public’s legitimate demands, the US might well not stand by them but for once actually stand on the “right side of history” and gladly watch them fall.

The whole Arab world, not just Bahrain, needs to embrace change and use the positive energy within change to forge forth with a better more inclusive and democratic future in which institutions rule, rather than the whims of individuals.

Clinton continued:

Clinton said the United States would continue to have “frank conversations” with long-time allies such as Bahrain, where the Sunni ruling family brought in troops from Sunni allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to help crush a protest movement earlier this year.

“Mass arrests and brute force are at odds with the universal rights of Bahrain’s citizens and will not make legitimate calls for reform go away,” Clinton said, saying the tiny Gulf country’s monarchy had made public promises to begin political dialogue and investigate abuses.

“We intend to hold the Bahraini government to these commitments and to encourage the opposition to respond constructively to secure lasting reform,” she said.

Reuters

Good. I know that intrinsically everyone wants to be on the right side of history, ultimately, but some need to be judiciously encouraged to tread a path in that direction. This pressure by a major power which has a vested interest in this region as well as the local political opposition groups are good manifestations of the much required pressure. The momentum of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya will gain strength and the laws of motion will take root. Whether the remaining Arab countries will use that momentum for their benefit, or get rolled over and discarded in the process remains to be seen.

Eid Mubarak!

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Free Ebrahim Sharif

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One Bahraini politician whom I really respect is Ebrahim Sharif.

Ebrahim Sharif is the secretary general of the secular National Action Democratic Society, acronymed Wa’ad – which translates from Arabic to “promise”. I believe with his tenacity and steadfastness to the truth and his passion to get this country to a better plane on which all are equal under the law and everyone is held responsible for their actions is the salvation that this country is in dire need of.

Unfortunately, he currently languishes in prison with a bevy of his compatriots for what some have determined to be politically motivated charges.

I also admire Ali Salman, the general secretary of Al-Wefaq1 and some of his colleagues like Khalil Al-Marzooq for I believe that they too are sincere in their efforts to achieve the same ends that Sharif aspires to. I know that this concept might be very difficult for those who’ve put on the sectarian shades on and see Wefaq as being necessarily beholden to the Iranian Ogre – due to Wefaq’s membership being overwhelmingly Shi’a. I on the other hand don’t have those preset views to encumber my deductions and do see beyond a person’s chosen confessional beliefs and evaluate positions exclusively with what is good for Bahrain metric.

Ebrahim Sharif is spending his first of five years in prison for his beliefs amongst others of his compatriots who have been accused of similar offenses and have had sentences levied against them from five to life. I can’t do much about those sentences other than to hope that they know that they will for ever be remembered for their sacrifices, and hope too that they continue to stay true and strong. There is every chance that they will be exonerated soon.

Until then, please show your support by visiting a blog that has been especially created to support Ebrahim Sharif at http://freesharif.wordpress.com.

Stay well Bahrain.

Ed: typo corrected, was Wa’ad, now Wefaq – 11:52
“Bahrain demonstrates in solidarity with Egypt – Feb 4th, 2011 – with a quick interview with Ebrahim Sharif added at 17:22

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REPENT!

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I was just looking through my Flickr stream and came across this recent picture I took in Manhattan, NY. Was reminded of the place and its hodgepodge of cultures and people from all corners of the world, yet, they mostly live in peace with each other and even enjoy each other’s company. Even with the presence of some who could be classified as crackpots. Yet, they just live… and let live.

I just hope that this spirit of coexistence returns back to this fractious country soon with the establishment of a better democracy and better respect for human rights.

Here’s to hope.

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The Bitter Pill

The BICI‘s report is to be released soon and just as Professor Bassiouni believes, it will be contentious and both sides of the divide will have issues with it. However, if the report itself and its recommendations are not handled properly, the divide we have been experiencing since March 17th will transform instantly into an uncrossable schism.

As a country, though, we simply cannot afford not to take the report at face value and use it positively as a catalyst to rebuild this fractious society. There is simply no reason not to. The people tasked with the report are internationally recognised human rights defenders and each have a credible history in the field. They have nothing to gain from the report, but a solid reputation to lose if it is in fact found that the report is a cover-up of serious violations.

I readily lend my voice of confidence to the BICI, especially after I’ve heard the interview linked above with its president.

Let’s hope this bitter pill does wake us all up, yank us out of our unreasonably intrenched positions and force us to think of Bahrain and its future generations rather than the continued selfish and myopic positions so far taken in this very ill society. Let us also hope that the country’s leadership will have the required courage to enact its recommendations transparently and deal with all those who abused their powers through the very difficult times we have lived through without any thought given to sect or tribal affiliations, release those unfairly imprisoned and fairly compensate all those who have been wronged.

This is the time to demonstrate real leadership, half measures by them just won’t do.

The alternative is nothing less than continued strife and perpetual mutual accusations which will accelerate the annihilation of this country and all within it.

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The King Speaketh

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I was happy to learn of the King’s speech on Aug 28th, 2011. As has become his custom, he addressed the nation at the end of Ramadhan. In his much awaited speech, he addressed several issues, but did not offer any new political concessions, probably leaving those to the enactment of the National Dialogue demands.

In his speech, he ordered:

  • pardoning all those who insulted him during a month of pro-democracy protests
  • civilians that were being tried in military courts for their participation in the protest will eventually be handled by civil courts
  • those employees who were dismissed from their jobs will be reinstated
  • dismissed students shall be reinstated
  • those who had been mistreated in custody in the aftermath of the crackdown should file a complaint as that the law allows compensation for them

I wonder how long those responsible in government will take to enact these orders. Recent history suggests; however, that they will either be ignored, or some excuses will be created to slow down their implementation to the degree that frustration will continue to rise in the country.

The king also stated:

“The recent period was painful to all of us. Although we live in one country, some have forgotten the inevitability of coexistence. Therefore, we should not abandon our belief in having the same and common future, and should not lose trust in each other as brothers, colleagues and citizens.”

King Hamad once again reminded us that our common denominator should be our Bahraininess, rather than our personal religious beliefs. These thoughts are nobel, of course; however, I’m afraid for them to be implemented in reality much more is needed. You do not inculcate this sense of belonging and unity via slogans and banners on the streets. What is needed is action and lead by example in order to restore faith. Courageous unconventional steps must be shown in practice to show that the regime is absolutely serious about wanting the issues which beleaguered the country resolved, and of course, the opposition must now help in this by allowing the benefit of the doubt to be given and received. Also, the continuous deluge of filth and sectarianism pouring out of the mouths of known so called clerics and MPs like Mohammed Khalid, Jassim Alsaidi and others of the same ilk without any public censure by the regime. The same should be applied to the filth being broadcast on the official media channels and sectarian newspapers and so called journalists, rather than celebrating them by seeing their pictures being greeted by very highly placed officials in the country. The message these actions promote is the diametric opposite of what the king is espousing publicly.

Like many of my compatriots, I am rather tired of the duplicity happening in our country. I am convinced that nothing will fix this situation and bring Bahrain back to the normality we all desire than actual determined and unambiguous actions by the country’s top officials to fight this disparity with absolute and unwavering resolve.

Let’s hope that this speech is a harbinger of better things to come. Eid Mubarak Bahrain.

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Traitors abound, or it least this is how the story goes

There is no margin of difference any more in Bahrain, it seems, for the most preferred epithet for one who differs in opinion from one’s own is – must be – a traitor! Who decides what a traitor is and who it might be is left to personal fervor in one’s own hazy state of “the nation’s defense”.

Over a period of Friday morning (20 Aug 2011), I was thrilled to have had a polite conversation with Adnan Al-Shaikh, a good friend and professional communicator, about this particular topic.
It started with me taking offense at one of his tweets this morning:

لنكون منصفين الى المخلصين يتوجب علينا كشف الخائنين.
adnanalshaikh
August 20, 2011
In this tweet, Adnan stresses the need to be equitable to the sincere by exposing traitors.

Needless to say, I didn’t expect this from Adnan, so I took him up on it and started the conversation:
@adnanalshaikh وش هالمنطق يا صديقي؟ فإن نجح هذا المنطق فالخاسر هي الوطن بكل مكوناته. فلدع الكراهية و لنتكلم بالتي هي أحسن.
mahmood
August 20, 2011

Mahmood: “What’s this logic my friend? If it succeeds then the loser is the Nation with all of its constituents. Let’s leave hate and grant the benefit of the doubt.”

@mahmood عزيزي محمود هل ترضى أن أتستر على من يخونك؟
adnanalshaikh
August 20, 2011
Adnan: “My dear Mahmood, would you condone me covering up who betrays you?”
@mahmood فكما نؤشر الى المخلص يجب علينا أن نؤشر الى الخائن. من حق الناس معرفة ذلك.
adnanalshaikh
August 20, 2011
Adnan: “So as we point out the sincere we should also point out the traitor. It’s the people’s right to know that.”
@mahmood إنما الذي لا يجب علينا فعله هو تخوين المخلص وإن شككنا في إخلاصه حتى تثبت خيانته.
adnanalshaikh
August 20, 2011

Adnan: “But what we should not do is accuse the sincere with treason even if we suspect this sincerity until his treason is proven”

@adnanalshaikh اذا من الذي يقوم بتصنيف هذا من ذاك و ما المعايير المستخدمة؟ يا اخي الناس غير مؤهلين لذلك عدا القضاء النزيه فابتعد جزاك الله.
mahmood
August 20, 2011
Mahmood: “Then who categorized this from that and what are the used metrics? My brother, normal people aren’t qualified for that except for the fair judiciary so please desist for God’s reward.”
@adnanalshaikh انت – كما أنا – لسنا في موضع ان نشير لهذا و ذاك بتهم قد تؤدي للقتل او اسواء. لنترك هذه النعوت و نعمل لتهدئة الوضع.
mahmood
August 20, 2011
Mahmood: “You, as I am, aren’t in a position to accuse this or that with accusations which could lead to death or worse. Let us leave those descriptions and work to calm the situation.”
@adnanalshaikh و ان خونا شخص ما، فما هي مصلحتك و ما هي مصلحة الوطن الكبرى؟ التناحر و سوؤ العاقبة؟ اترك عنك يا صديقي فخبرتك اكبر من هذا.
mahmood
August 20, 2011
Mahmood: “And if we accuse someone with treason, what is your benefit and what is the larger nation’s benefit? Rivalry leading to bad consequences? Leave this my friend, for I thought you to be much higher than this.”
@mahmood لم أذكر معايير وﻻ من المؤهل لتصنيف هذا وذاك،إنما أتحدث عن قاعدة.
adnanalshaikh
August 20, 2011
@mahmood مرة أخرى أنا أتحدث عن قاعدة.
adnanalshaikh
August 20, 2011
Adnan: “Again, I speak of a principle.”
@adnanalshaikh القاعدة تحتاج براهين ثابتة و غير قابلة للتأويل. فما براهين أولائك المتلذذين بالتخوين يا أستاذي الكريم؟
mahmood
August 20, 2011
Mahmood: “A principle needs solid and unshakable evidence. So what evidence to those who revel in describing people with treason offer my learned teacher?”
@mahmood اذا لنحذف كلمة خائن من القاموس وليكن من أحياها كمن قتلها!
adnanalshaikh
August 20, 2011
Adnan: “So let us omit the word ‘traitor’ from the dictionary and let the one who makes something lives as the one who killed it.”

(sorry, don’t know how to properly translate that idiom)
@adnanalshaikh ليس هذا المطلوب، حبذا لو نترك هذه الوصفات لقضاء نزيه و نعطي الآخر برائة الشك.
mahmood
August 20, 2011
Mahmood: “This isn’t what is needed, it’s preferred to leave these categorizations to the fair judiciary and give the other the benefit of the doubt.”
@mahmood محمود .. القاعدة هنا بمعنى مبدأ وهو ليس معني بتحديد معايير وبراهين فكل ثقافة لها معاييرها وادلتها لتحقيق هذا المبدأ.
adnanalshaikh
August 20, 2011

Adnan: “Mahmood.. the principle here means a standard and it’s not the meaning of defining the standards of evidence and every culture has its standards and its evidence for this principle

@adnanalshaikh والمبدأ كذلك مبني على قواعد والقاعدة تحتاج لبراهين كما سلفت. فبأي مبدأ تتكلم لم توصف الناس بالخونة؟ أليس بهذا المبدأ العكس صح
mahmood
August 20, 2011
Mahmood: “And the principle here is based on foundations and foundations require evidence as I’ve said before. So what principle are you using when you accuse people with treason? Isn’t this principle also applies to those who throw those accusations?”
@mahmood علينا حسن النية بالآخر دائما الى أن يثبت لنا هو عكس ذلك فنحكم عليه كما أثبت لنا بنفسه ولكن يجب ترك التعامل معه للقضاء في كل الأحوال
adnanalshaikh
August 20, 2011
Adnan: “We have to always apply the benefit of the doubt until the opposite is proven so we can judge him as has been ascertained by himself but we have to allow the judiciary to take care of this in all cases.”
@adnanalshaikh اذا اتفقنا! مبدأ حسن النية يتطلب منا عدم تخوين الآخر عدا ان ثبتت عليه جريمة الخيانة من القضاء المستقل والنزيه. فكف يرحمك الله
mahmood
August 20, 2011
Mahmood: “Therefor we agree! The principle of the benefit of the doubt demands that we do not accuse others of treason unless that crime is proven against him by the fair and independent judiciary. So stop may God be benevolent with you.”
@mahmood المبدأ هو قاعدة مستخلصة من دلالات وشواهد تنطبق على الأعمال التي تتوافق نتائجها مع تلك الدلالات والشواهد.
adnanalshaikh
August 20, 2011
Adnan: “The principle is a rule derived from the indications and evidence applicable to the deeds that are compatible with those indications and evidence.”
@mahmood يخون الخائن فقط ما أن رجع وتاب في أي مكان في العالم. وحسن النية تجب حتى في قضائنا فلا داعي أن نقول نريد قضاء مستقلا ونزيها.
adnanalshaikh
August 20, 2011
Adnan: “The traitor is negated only when he repents (? Adnan help me with this translation! don’t understand the first part of the sentence) but benefit of the doubt should also be applied to our own judiciary so there is no reason for [your] statement that we want an independent and fair judiciary.”
@adnanalshaikh او ليه التشكيك بئه؟ متى شككت أنا في القضاء البحريني؟ تكلمنا في المبادئ فإذا كلامي ينطبق عاما و ليس حصريا على وضع البحرين!
mahmood
August 20, 2011
Mahmood: “Why this supposition? When did I question the Bahraini judiciary? We’re talking about principles therefore my statements applies generally and not exclusively to Bahrain’s situation.”
@mahmood جميل. اتفقنا.
adnanalshaikh
August 20, 2011
Adnan: “Beautiful, we agree.”
@adnanalshaikh اكسلينت ماي فريند!!
mahmood
August 20, 2011
Mahmood: “Excellent my friend.”
A few hours later, Adnan posted a beautiful tweet in which he stated:
You could be courageous by saying a word of truth, but can be more courageous and even a hero if you regret, retreat and admit your mistake.
adnanalshaikh