Tag Archives #feb14

Opposition’s Conditions for National Dialogue

Opposition’s Conditions for National Dialogue

Here’s a list I received detailing the opposition’s requirements to enter the national dialogue called for by the Crown Prince. I cannot vouch for them as I cannot get independent confirmation, but they look genuine and represent them here for their informational value, and hope that we can start this dialogue here too.

Objectives of the Revolution of Anger of the people of Bahrain

Emphasis on the achievement of popular demands:

1. Dismissal of the government and the formation of a government elected by the people

2. Cancellation of the 2002 Constitution and all laws passed by decree

3. The formation of a national body of ten elected members by the people to formulate a new constitution that abolishes all the king’s powers and that he be a symbol of the country and that legislative and regulatory powers are fully in the hands of an elected council (parliament).

4. Amend the electoral law so that the people elect all members of Parliament in which the cabinet ministers will be selected from 25% of the members of parliament

5. Cancellation of all boards and councils immediately and ensure that all executive agencies are subject to the elected govenrment

6. Comprehensive reforms of the judiciary and the restructuring of the Supreme Judicial Council which shall be constituted of judges and lawyers elected by the people

7. Abolition of the powers of all naturalized citizens to prevent them from participation in the electoral process or to stand for election until a law regulating naturalization and the Bahraini nationality is promulgated

8. Prevent the army from participating in the electoral process

9. Ensure that all corrupt persons stand public trials, as should those practicing sectarianism and re-open the Bandergate file and prevent any judicial and public prosecution powers of issuing any gag orders relating to any case concerned with public opinion

10. The return of all looted lands and coasts and the nationalization of real estate projects such as Amwaj Islands and Alzalamah and Riffa Views to be within the purview of the Ministry of Housing to equitably distribute the wealth to the citizens

11. Instating Bahraini citizens in jobs which are currently occupied by foreigners, especially those in the ministries of interior and defense without any sectarian discrimination

12. Dismissal of all heads of agencies, boards and institutions at the same time as dissolving the cabinet

13. Bring to account all those who practiced corrupt practices before 2002

14. Fairly compensate the families of martyrs and all those affected during the past twenty years

To engage in national dialogue, a minimum of four of these popular demands must implemented.

Do you think these demands reasonable? Especially the precondition to enter the national dialogue only when a minimum of four demands are met?

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Comparisons

Comparisons from the NY Times in the upper image, Al-Fateh mosque also inserted for comparison's sake

I don’t want to start a “numbers war”, but just for my interest, I got this image from the New York Times which was attempting to compare between the route taken by the opposition protest yesterday which filled the whole length of the highway from Bahrain Mall to the Pearl Roundabout with Tahrir Square in Cairo. I took it a step further and go the Al-Fateh Mosque’s in there as well to complete the comparison.

I joked in a tweet yesterday that the people at the protest must’ve been 4,692,166. And it appears to be right, ratio wise which has been broadcast about the numbers in Al-Fateh!

Regardless, I’m glad that the whole of Bahrain now are becoming engaged in politics. Maybe something good will come out of this engagement.

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Ish ma birfday!

(sorry for the bad rappy title!)

It’s my birthday today and there are a lot of things that I’m blessed with at this point in my life. The numbers might indicate that I’m forty-nine, but believe me I feel much younger. Okay, maybe forty-five!

Seriously though, I’m thrilled to celebrate my birthday this week in Bahrain, it’s not all doom and gloom, even with some people unnecessarily killed in the process, this is an exciting time for Bahrain. I’ve said before that this country has changed for ever since #feb14. It’s people have risen and voiced their concerns and they shall be met. Maybe not all in one go, but as time goes by, they shall. No longer will they be side-lined from important decisions and may they always be much more involved in politics and draw the path they want their country to tread. It’s no longer a one-man-decision. Bahrainis – regardless of where they stand on the issues – can now walk tall and hold their heads high.

With the release of the political prisoners last night, at least the 25 wrongly accused of terrorism by the state, my birthday is so much sweeter now. I’m thrilled for their release, particularly my friend and fellow blogger and webmaster Ali Abdulemam.

You know what will really be a great thing to happen today as well? Unfettering the Internet in this country, unblocking all the blocked sites and never again resorting to draconian measures against opinion writers of all colours, be they bloggers, columnists or journalists.

Back to my birthday, as I’m on a diet at the moment, my staff were considerate enough not to get me a traditional birthday cake, what they opted for instead is a roast chicken! What a brilliant crew I have. Fantastic!

My birthday "cake" is a chicken!!

I wish every single Bahraini – regardless of where they stand politically – the best of health, wealth and happiness.

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General Strike in Bahrain

When the General Strike was announced yesterday, I didn’t give it much heed. I guess I’m conditioned to ignore trade unions as they have very little and smooth teeth which tickle more than cause injury. Well, it seems that today, they’ve sharpened them a bit and they’re starting to leave a mark.

Teachers, some of them at least, heeded that call. I noticed a few gathering with their Bahraini flags and a couple of hastily written placards standing in front of their school’s gate near where I live. I approached them, took some pictures and interviewed one. Wanting to check the other schools in the area, I hit the motherload at the Duraz Intermediate Girls’ School nearby – you’ll know what I mean when you view the following video – and then off I went to the school next door where they were striking too.

I’m not sure how many schools in Bahrain are striking today, most if not all the private schools have sent messages to parents to keep their children home, so they’re not functioning I don’t think, but it would be interesting to know the number and areas of the public schools that heeded the call to strike.

Is this the start of another “phenomenon” in Bahrain?

One thing is for sure: Bahrain before the 14th of February 2011 is most definitely different from the Bahrain after it.

 

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Beyond the abyss

Shocking video. Shocking and barbaric situation.

For all the naysayers, I don’t think that any sane person can even dream of condoning such action, under any pretenses:

In light of the effective political societies’ refusal to take up the Crown Prince on his offer for dialogue until the resignation of the government and the withdrawal of the armed forces and the riot police, the country is now at a critical fork in the road, the choice of which to tread must be decided before 3pm this afternoon when the street – not political societies – has decided to once again take to the streets from several locations and converge once again on the Pearl Roundabout.

Can you imagine the massacre awaiting your fellow compatriots there if the army is not instructed to stand down and get back to their barracks? The protestors – regardless of whether you agree with them, are Bahrainis just like you and me. They have legitimate demands and aspirations, again just like you and me, will you stand by the wayside, once again, and allow them to be mowed down and get their blood to flow on the streets of this country? How can we live with ourselves if we allow that to happen? Even animals have more compassion.

The ball is still in the air, I know, attempts must be continued to be made to just get actors around the negotiation tables to stymie the flow of blood and the loss of life. It is absolutely wrong and irresponsible to lay the blame on a single person or political society. No one operates in a vacuum and the responsibility must be shared.

Here are my suggestions to get things forward:

    1. Cease all atrocities
    2. Immediately order all army units back to their barracks and get them to stand down
    3. Immediately order all riot police units back to their barracks and get them to stand down
    4. As the government has lost any semblance of legitimacy and credibility, it must immediately resign
    5. CP must be named as a care-taker prime minister
    6. Dissolve parliament and call for elections within six months
    7. Immediately establish an elected council to draft a new constitution which must be presented for national referendum

The public went over the edge when they saw their compatriots killed by their very own army and have absolutely nothing to lose now. They have and will continue to offer their bodies to stop the bullets while shouting “سلميه سلميه” “peacefully, peacefully“.

Does anyone remember a young man called Mohammed Bouazizi?

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Lockdown

Four funerals are to take place today in various places in Bahrain for the four new martyrs of yesterdays brutal attack on the Pearl Roundabout. Essa Abdulhassan, the 61 year old gentlemen who went to reason with the riot police and got half his head blown off for his efforts is being laid to rest as I type this. Thousands are in Karzakkan to pay their respects. There will be thousands more at the other four funerals, three of which are going to be in the island of Sitra. I don’t know the schedule yet, but I hope that the police and military forces will restrict themselves and allow people to mourn peacefully.

No one wants a repeat of yesterday, especially what happened in Salmaniya…

Horrific scenes. The pictures and the screams will stay with me for ever and shall remind me, as it no doubt will others, of the brutality of the regime. One that I have always loved and am now looking to for much needed leadership. Essa Abdulhassan (61, Karzakkan), Mahmood Makki (23, Sitra), Ali Khudair (52, Sitra) and Ali Almoamin (23, Sitra) join the long list of compatriots in the pantheon of national martyrs yesterday, bringing the confirmed murdered to six so far with rumours of many more owing to the several people missing since Black Thursday.

Through their sacrifice, this country will change for the better for ever. It’s already in full focus in the international community with tens of articles and news reports on record, starting with the slamming of Bahrain by the UN Secretary General, to President Barak Obama, Secretary Clinton, British Foreign Minister William Hague and a flurry of other governments condemning the heavy-handedness of the Bahraini government and all of whom are asking for restraint. The people of Bahrain are indebted to this important showing of support. It’s good to know that someone’s got their back, and pressure must continuously be exerted to ensure that this country satisfies its national and international obligations.

To avoid further bloodshed, the country need more, much more. We need real engagement and partnership. We need the ruling elite to start treating the rest of the population as equals rather than subservient peons to be played with at their whim, and a good start to ensure that is the promulgation of a real constitution written by an elected constitutional council of high standing with the populace. At this stage, I don’t thing anything else would do. Good faith is also called for, and this is firmly in the hands of the king.

We have more than 450 political prisoners in this country, a third of them are children under the age of 18 according to various reports. They should be released. The trial of “the 25” whom have been labelled terrorists by the regime should be declared a mistrial immediately and they should be released, and the harassment and prosecution of bloggers and writers must stop immediately and Ali Abdulemam should lead those to be released. Five months imprisonment for doing nothing but expressing his opinion is diabolical in a country that oft-repeats that it’s a country of laws and establishments.

Today the country is still in shock and disbelief at the brutality of the attack on peaceful protestors at the Pearl Roundabout. It is still reeling with disbelief at the cold-bloodedness of the six murdered compatriots for doing nothing but joining a peaceful protest and expressing their love for their country by protesting to demand better conditions and a share of political and economic freedoms.

Today, we’re still too shocked to mourn. Leadership is called for more than ever in starting reconciliation which will eventually lead to forgiveness. Failing this, I can guarantee you that this country will descend very rapidly into the sectarian quagmire which is already accelerating. All one has to do is view some of the poisonous virulent posts on Twitter.

Coverage of the martyrs in Al-Wasat this morning.

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Bahrain Je’taime!

J'taime Bahrain!

This was the scene on the roads leading to the Pearl Roundabout last night. This was the last picture I took as I left the roundabout to head home. People were jovial, happy and most certainly peaceful. I remember greeting the marshals guiding people and traffic and telling them well done.

But I fear the gentleman carrying his bedding to the roundabout is anything but that. Though I doubt very much that his love for his country is anything less this morning after being probably brutally attacked with his compatriots before the crack of dawn than what it was last night. That poster behind him summed up the feeling we both have about this country and its people. All of its people.

What’s ahead for this country?

Well, let’s review the demands of those protesting:

  1. Bilateral Constitutional amendments which are  binding to address the contentious current Constitution of 2002
  2. The immediate release of political prisoners, some 450 are incarcerated many of whom are children under 18 years of age
  3. Release and increase press freedoms, repeal Law 47/2002
  4. Guard and increase personal freedoms and freedoms of expression
  5. Investigate corruption and return stolen wealth into the state coffers
  6. Repeal Law 56/2002 and bring torturers to justice

Are any of these demands unreasonable? Do they differ from the aspirations of any human being?

Unfortunately rather than the government reacting to these demands by offering dialogue, what they did instead is kill seven people in three days and caused the injuries of hundreds more. They attacked peaceful demonstrators, like the gentleman you see above, and the hundreds of women and children at the Pearl Roundabout and at various processions. It’s as if the demands are a serious slight in the face of the government and the ruling family. Why? Is this not the celebrated “modern country” that prides itself as being “business friendly”? How can it be business friendly if it’s hostile to its own citizens?

If with what’s happening they even think that they can convince the “free world” that what’s actually happening here is “just a skirmish and nothing serious” they’re just as disconnected with reality as the rest of the government seems to be. Nor will those the country is pitching to stupid enough not to have their own sources to ascertain claims. All you have to do now is simply search for Bahrain on Google News and see what you get. How many positive articles would one find?

The situation is dire. Even the medical personnel are not only under extreme pressure to care for the injured and wounded, they are reportedly being obstructed from doing their sacred duty by the security forces and are being severely beaten for it to boot. No wonder they’re demonstrating in anger at their situation.

I fear for this country.

I have never witnessed protests such as these in my life in Bahrain. I’ve most certainly did not witness the level of determination to wrest those demands either. And from what I can personally see, people no longer care if they’re killed while trying, so much so that they are more than happy to get their wives, sisters, mothers and children accompanying them while protesting. I’ve personally seen disabled people at the Pearl Roundabout, some on crutches, in wheelchairs or pushing their Zimmer frames. All of whom didn’t come out to have a picnic, they, instead firmly believe in the sanctity and genuineness of their rightful demands.

Yes, the demands of the protestors are understandably more resolute. They’re no longer calling for the reform of the government, but its removal. Such is the effects of brutatlity against unarmed civilians. Although the situation is very serious and tense, heightened no doubt by the army taking to the streets with their armoured personnel carriers, we are not yet beyond the abyss. Or at least I fervently hope not. This “conflict” cannot and will not be solved with military or police force. It will only be resolved with genuine dialogue and the offering of concessions, which, ironically, is going to ensure that longevity of the ruling family in Bahrain.

Al-Wefaq, the largest political bloc in parliament with 18 of 40 seats have announced the suspension of their parliamentary membership and strongly denounced the violence and killings, but people see that this is not enough and they demand a stronger stance, nothing less than their immediate resignation from parliament will satisfy them. That and the resignation of the full government as it is fully their responsibility for the deterioration of the situation. That is, if the country is genuinely to be saved.

The alternative is too painful to consider.

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Why #feb14 will never succeed

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With the Egyptian demonstrations entering their 15th day, with today reportedly the largest so far, they seem to have defied all naysayers and kept their focus sharp and their demands very well defined. I don’t have any doubts at all that Mubarak will fall well before his due date, his expiry date has already comprehensively passed. Maybe the Egyptians will beat the Tunisian record and get the deed done before the three week milestone.

How did they do it? How did they succeed? The short answer as far as I see is that they both eschewed what differentiates them and worked very hard at what unified them. Didn’t you hear the shouts of “يد واحده يد واحده” (one hand one hand) whenever someone (Islamist or otherwise) attempted to hijack their cause?

In Bahrain, I fear it’s a completely different situation. So far.

I am disgusted by what I read in various sites and feeds. The over-arching direction in the Bahraini sphere is not only religious, but overly sectarian. Have a look at this video which reached me this afternoon:

read the comments which are dripping with hate and sectarianism (on both sides) and then just go over to the various Facebook pages set up for the cause here and here amongst others I’m sure and see the quality of discourse there. Do you really think that any such movement would succeed? And if they do succeed, do you realistically think they will last long enough to launch a new a modern democratic country?

I hate to be the pessimist, and I am also the most fervent supporter of democracy, democratic values and human rights, I am extremely pessimistic now that I have perused the various available social media and other sites more than ever.

How can they convert this almost definite failure to success? Emphasize and believe in unity. Don’t – for all that’s holy – bring out labels, songs, videos and writings with “azza beats” or liken what you’re doing with Ashoora, the best you could expect when you do is to completely alienate the rest of the population, and that you cannot afford to do, not even for a second.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, every “revolution” has its own prerequisites and its own catalyst. I see that while one might be present in Bahrain, the other is most definitely missing so far.

What’s to be done then? Forget about it and stay as we are? Not by a long shot. I say that now, at this particular state of local affairs, continue to exert pressure on the government, extract as much concessions as could be taken but direct all efforts at ensuring proper human rights and freedoms, political and economic rights and work on evolutionary rather than revolutionary modes of operation.

Until we in Bahrain really believe in the mantra of No Shi’i, No Sunni, Just Bahraini, we’ll not be moving far from where we currently find ourselves and shall continue to wallow in our own sectarian filth.

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