Tag Archives human-rights

Government admits the ineffectiveness of censorship

Posted on

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.

Share

Toward understanding Bahrain’s events

Dr Mansoor Al-Jamri is interviewed by Al-Hurra TV in which he reflects on the events in Bahrain over the past year, discusses the Bassiouni report and the political and social situation which contributed to these events. He also suggests ways in which this situation could be resolved.

Well worth watching to give you a real perspective in 44 minutes and 53 seconds.

Dr Mansoor Al-Jamri's interview with Al-Hurra TV about the events in Bahrain

Share

Police brutality as an art form in Bahrain

Diabolical of course, but as it has become the norm now, especially AFTER the BICI report’s come out, the government might well think that they could field the worst offenders (and there doesn’t seem to be any good ones there who could exercise their conscience once in a while) to the Olympics of depravity.

Here’s just one example or many:

The lesson here is what exactly?

Well, let’s see:

1. apprehend a demonstrator
2. don’t bother immobilizing him, that’s a secondary thing, just drag and kick him to hell
3. don’t be a scrooge, invite your comrades to the party! drag the senseless citizen along closer to where those comrades are, it’s not good to get them to run too much,
4. But, running generates good momentum for a good kick or two, so give those who do so extra brownie points
5. don’t forget to have a point guard with a shotgun looking about to ensure that no one is videoing the process
6. delegate to the gun toting gentlemen the authority to fire at will against those bastards who dare to gather mementos of the incident.

Brilliant. Well done. Encore encore!

Human rights my bloody foot!

Share

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.

Share

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…

Share

Civil War is in the offing

Civil War is in the offing

If you’re not afraid of what and where Bahrain is going, then this clip should give you a good indication. In it, a bunch of ignoramuses are taking the mic in front of a government building in Muharraq inciting not only hatred, but openly calling for the killing of the Shia in Bahrain, and threatening that Muharraq will be the Shia graveyard. Muharraq, that lovely island we’ve always associated as being the model of tolerance, understanding and multi-cultural living seems to be now degenerating at the hands of murderers, torturers and thugs.

All this in front of a government building.

In addition to that, the nefarious convicted torturer Adel Flaifel is calling for the formation of armed gangs with the help of the Muharraq Municipal Council and the Ministry of Interior to “deal” with the Shia – whom he calls traitors – and protect Muharraq from their advance!

I don’t care for these people nor their message of intolerance. What I care about is that by virtue of them being in front of a government building, using the building’s PA system it seems, preaching hatred to the crowd and not a single person is stopping them and to date, I haven’t heart of any official condemnation of that gathering and not a single legal channel has been moved to curtail them when they are clearly breaking the law. If my memory serves, a police station is directly opposite of that location too, so why the police didn’t intervene is mind boggling too. Unless of course the police there don’t understand Arabic and the gathering was deemed authorised and legal?

Enjoy the clip, and pack your bags while you’re at it. Bahrain – with these morons openly operating in it with the full aid and knowledge of the government – is not a place that I want to spend my future in.

Disgusting.

Share

Congratulations Libya…. Next?

The pictures speak for themselves.

The question that wise “leaders” should ask themselves is: “Do I want to end up like any of these?”

I suppose not.

So what they need to do is relax that grip of power, give people the chance to live with dignity, treat them as equals and that will undoubtedly prolong their rule.

But who’s listening?

Congratulations Libya. Now please work hard at demolishing the idolization of persons and establish laws that apply to all and institutions to run the affairs of the country transparently and forge the future that was stolen from you for over 40 years.

Now. Who’s next?

Share

If Bahrain is to learn something useful…

I agree. Wholeheartedly and hope against hope that something could be done, quickly, and hope once again that it’s still not too late to save this country and its people. All of them.

Bahrain Should Heed Lessons from Ireland

9-29-2011
By Brian Dooley
Director, Human Rights Defenders

Take two small island nations, each situated off the coast of a major power. Both have a history of sectarian conflict, fake democracy and misrule by monarchy. Both have a strategically important deepwater naval base. Crucially, both have a police force recruited almost exclusively from one of the sects.

Both have populations of around a million and a half, and both enjoy the dubious legacy of British colonialism and the traditions of its security apparatus.

There are differences, of course. Bahrain remains one country while Ireland was cut into two almost 90 years ago in a makeshift political solution to create Northern Ireland, which has a Protestant majority largely keen on continued British rule and loyal to the British monarch. In Northern Ireland, the fight for civil rights for Catholics (or for “parity of esteem” in modern jargon) has been conducted largely in the rain, cold and damp, whereas Bahrainis’ struggle happens in extreme heat and sunshine.

From the early 1920s, when Northern Ireland was created, the largely Protestant ruling class excluded Catholics from top government jobs, and the police force was almost exclusively Protestant, fiercely loyal to the British Protestant monarch. Electoral districts were gerrymandered to give Protestants a permanent electoral advantage even in areas like Derry, which had a Catholic majority.

In Bahrain, electoral districts are gerrymandered in favor of Sunnis, while Shias are excluded from top government jobs. The police force is almost exclusively Sunni, fiercely loyal to the Sunni monarch.

In 1968, inspired by the Prague Spring, Northern Ireland saw its first civil rights protests. A wave of pro-democracy marches and demonstrations swept Europe, from Prague to Warsaw to Belgrade to Paris and beyond. In Derry in Northern Ireland, the protests were met with a violent crackdown from the security forces. Within a year, with protests escalating, the police in Northern Ireland had to be reinforced by soldiers sent from neighboring Britain.

This year, inspired by the Arab Spring and demonstration in Tuni, Cairo and elsewhere, Bahraini pro-democracy activists organised huge protests which were met with a violent crackdown from the security forces. Within a month, with protests escalating, the police in Bahrain had to be reinforced by soldiers sent from neighboring Saudi Arabia.

We could go on, listing the similarities in the special court systems, the torture and ill-treatment of detainees, the shooting of peaceful protestors, the deaths in custody, the fake shows of dialogue about power-sharing, the allegations of foreign conspiracies (led by Tehran or the Vatican), the social segregation of people living in different areas and shopping in different stores.

In neither place has the sectarianism been primarily theological. Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland were not killing each other over issues of transubstantiation or the rightful place of Jesus’ mother Mary in the pantheon of Christian hierarchy. The sensitive issues, like in Bahrain, were about identity, ‘foreignness’ and allegiance to the ruling elite. In both places too there were and are many exceptions to the Catholic v Protestant, Sunni v Shia equation. Not all Protestants were anti-reform, just as many Sunnis are embarrassed at the King’s intransigence and anti-democracy crackdown.

But what’s most useful is to see how some progress has been made in Northern Ireland. The clumsy British response to the civil rights demands for equal access to government jobs and services and to votes pushed many of those marching for civil rights to more radical solutions.

By the early 1970s the guerrilla IRA has resurfaced, and a long war of attrition began against the British security forces. More than 3,000 people died in the following 30 years until a political deal was finally reached.

If there are parallels, it would be nice to think that Bahrain might skip the decades of killings and chaos and go straight for the solution. The reforms in Northern Ireland have not been perfect. The most difficult has been in revamping the security forces. Decades of mistrust are hard to overcome, and Catholics are still reluctant to join the police force (rebranded with a new name and symbols) that was loathed and feared for so long.

But progress has been made, and there is a sense of a shared future, not competing and conflicting versions of how the next generation will live.

If Bahrain is to learn something useful from the experience of Northern Ireland it might start by:

  • accepting that these protests aren’t going away without wholesale, deep-rooted reforms;
  • making Shia teenagers believe they have a future in the country, and possibly a government job;
  • making everyone’s vote worth the same;
  • stopping the manipulation of state media;
  • starting to talk to opposition leaders, including those it claims are terrorists, and including those in jail;
  • accepting outside mediation and support (in the case of Northern Ireland the Clinton Administration played an invaluable role);
  • realizing that by refusing to share any power they risk losing it all.

Source: Human Rights First

Share

Bahrain’s Shame

Posted on

I love it when our enlightened officials use the severely broken record of “we’re a democracy” while they literally sign off on the destitution of their own countrymen for daring to exercise their democratic rights. To add insult to injury, even when the land’s King orders, orders their re-instatement, they completely ignore that royal order as if it’s not important and not worth of the slightest consideration. What and whom are they following exactly to be this belligerent?

So far, according to (a much rejuvenated Al-Wasat) 2,593 have been unfairly fired. I say and emphasize the word unfairly as the only reason for losing their jobs was due to their exercising of one of their basic human rights. 2,593 from 199 companies and the public sector. 1,643 from eight entities who have trampled their very own lifelines, their employees in a race the end result of which is to ensure the starvation of the largest amount of families of their compatriots as possible! Those who have excelled at this vocation are now inducted in a particular hall of shame that Bahrain will never forget. That hall of shame belongs to ALBA, Bapco, Ministry of Health, Gulf Air, Batelco, Ministry of Education, Khalifa Port and the Ministry of Municipalities all of whom account for the misery of 63% of all of those unfairly dismissed.

Put in another perspective, according to the secretary general of the Bahrain Labour Unions those despicable 199 entities are directly responsible for the hardships that 13,000 Bahrainis find themselves in with their breadwinners out of a job.

What the hell are they thinking?

Doctors, engineers, teachers, tradesmen and a plethora of other worthy individuals are out of jobs. Do those companies not have any balls whatsoever as to stand their ground and refuse to enact orders relayed by midnight callers? Ok, we know that they don’t, they’re afraid for their own positions and benefits, but why the mad chest beating rush and which-hunts? Don’t they realize the extreme damage that this situation can do to the health of their own companies? What would the remaining employees think of the company and its management? I bet that every single employee within those despicable entities cannot help but think that their own turn will come! It might not be for the same reasons, but if they see that other employees are so summarily and unfairly dumped, regardless of their length of service nor their deserved excellent local and international reputations, how easy would it be to dispense with them too? And for whatever infantile and ludicrous reason?

For those who are dancing on their co-workers’ graves, those who snitched, poked and stabbed their own brothers and sisters to be put in the literal firing line, where is your humanity? Where is your dignity? Where is your self-worth?

13,000 of my countrymen are at the risk of missed opportunities and continuous nightmares for doing nothing but expressing their views.

Know this; though, I bet that when they get used to the nightmares they will turn into a more belligerent and more extreme force that might very well rock the country, even more than what it’s at now, and those 199 entities as well as the government who is complicit in this, are directly responsible for this phenomenon. So thank you for destroying yet another generation.

What’s to be done, then? Like other great events in history, this is the time for a brave and responsible man to stand and take the helm. That man should not wait it out, because time now is the mortal enemy. The future of this country and its people are hanging in the balance and only strong, just and resolute decisions will rescue this country from the brink. This is where actual and much needed political, financial, labour, education and societal reform starts. And they all need a strong man with vision who is not afraid to step up on deck and take the helm in story seas. That journey is long and hard and won’t resolve overnight. But the country and its future children deserve the trouble.

To those 199 entities and the witch hunters. Your legacy will be shame, and you will be forgotten. Parasites that you are.

Share

Independent Human Rights Investigative Commission promulgated

Finally.

We have an official, independent and accountable commission to look into the events of the last few turbulent months in Bahrain composed of international figures who will have unfettered access to sources of information in order to compile a comprehensive report of the human rights abuses which happened in this country, recommend prosecutions of those found in the wrong and raise the resulting report to His Majesty by 30th October 2011. The report will be made public in total as guaranteed by the king. I’m sure that the local human rights organisations (the real ones) will act their part and ensure that they provide the necessary oversight.

Phew!

I haven’t looked at the backgrounds of those entrusted with this task, but they do sound genuine. Still, this is an excellent and much needed step to aid the long road to recovery, reparation and reconciliation.

Here’s the official translation of the king’s speech this afternoon, and this is a link to the Royal Decree #28 of 2011 outlining the roles and responsibilities of the commission.

Next steps?

As far as I’m concerned, throw Adel Flaifel OUT of the National Dialogue, his presence will poison the whole proceedings, he should never have been invited under any pretenses until he faces justice and offers apologies to those he tortured as part of an independent Truth and Reconciliation Commission with powers such as that of South Africa which should be created immediately, and then we can witness Bahrain’s recovery for it to take its rightful place among modern and self respecting nations.

Share