Tag Archives human-rights

Campaign launched to bring Henderson to justice

Please help in bringing the Butcher of Bahrain to justice!

A campaign spearheaded by the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights has been started to bring the former head of the security apparatus in Bahrain – Mr. Ian Henderson, to justice. The intention is to try to get the campaign to gain momentum throughout the world, not just Bahrain, by sending letters of objections to the Bahraini government and the UN expressing solidarity with the idea to bring Mr. Henderson – dubbed The Butcher of Bahrain – to justice as part of our much needed national reconciliation.

Should you wish to participate (please do!) either copy the button on the right and past it on your blog or get any of a selection of banners from the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights website.


The Elders

Nelson Mandela

Within our culture, as is present in others, there is quite a lot of respect for the elders of a family, village, and country. They are always accorded much respect and their words of wisdom sought especially at difficult times. When they speak, people listen and disputes are generally resolved.

It is with this vision that Sir Richard Branson and Peter Gabrial launched a tremendous initiative to sponsor a council of elders to include much respected world figures where it is hoped that they will tackle difficult subjects by exercising their moral authority.

“The Elders” which has been launched yesterday during Nelson Mandela’s 89th birthday celebrations also includes luminaries like retired archbishop Desmond Tutu, Jimmy Carter, Kofi Annan and Mary Robinson. It will ultimately consists of 12 people, none of whom hold a current public office and all of whom are recognised for their passionate work in human rights and are deeply concerned for the world and our environment and have tangible contributions in their own countries and the world at large. They are beyond personal egos.

Although their mandate is yet to be fully announced, some statements have already been made to frame their work:

Mandela states in remarks prepared for Wednesday that the fact that none of The Elders holds public office allows them to work for the common good, not for outside interests.

“This group can speak freely and boldly, working both publicly and behind the scenes on whatever actions need to be taken,” the remarks state. “Together we will work to support courage where there is fear, foster agreement where there is conflict, and inspire hope where there is despair.”
IHT – 17 July, ’07

I do wish them much luck in their much needed endeavours and salute Richard Branson and Peter Gabrial for their vision and humanity. They have demonstrated that everybody can made a difference.

I hope that The Elders will cast their eyes on this turbulent region and through the exercise of their moral authority spread peace and maybe also entice some of our errant leaders to relinquish their control and let our people live with some happiness and dignity.


Breaking new grounds by human rights organisations in Bahrain

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I can’t stand this, even more Good News™!

In a precedented step, the effervescent Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society has broken new grounds in human rights work by organising and overseeing a huge party in Ramez Shopping Centre in Rifa’a to celebrate our PM being enrolled in the UN’s Scroll of Honour in Human Development.

Apart from that intrinsic human rights activity, they – together with Akhbar Al-Khaleej’s journalists – have also unequivocally demonstrated that our children are educated much beyond their tender age and are patriotic to the bone; as all children should be.

وقد قالت الطفلة لطيفة محمد واسرتها من الرفاع الشرقي لقد أصررنا على المشاركة في الحفل الشعبي لإيماننا بمدى تضحيات الشيخ خليفة لشعبه ورغبتنا في رد جزء من الجميل إليه فهو الذي عمل الكثير لوطنة ولشعبة وان السكن الذي نحن فية من فضل الله سبحانه وقيادتنا السياسية الحكيمة، في حين عقب الطفلان زينب رضي واخوها مكي من مدينة حمد إن سموه يستحق كل تقدير وثناء من الجميع ويستحق جوائز أكثر لعمله الدؤوب في سبيل تنمية الإنسان والاقتصاد البحريني فمملكة البحرين وضعت على الخارطة الدولية بفضل عزيمة شعبها والتفافه حول قيادته.
أخبار الخليج – ١٨ يوليو ٢٠٠٧

I would like to personally profusely thank the Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society and its members on elevating human rights work and showing the world how it should be done.

More Good News™: The publisher of Akhbar Al-Khaleej, Mr. Anwar Abdulrahman has been admitted to hospital

where he is recovering, thank God, especially after being visited by Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa, our prime minister and the deputy PM in hospital. May Allah give you strength Anwar, and keep you from all bad tidings.


The caravan is in motion and the dogs are barking

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Sometimes, privilege given goes to the head and unfortunately the meandering brainfarts get believed by their perpetrators to be gems of wisdom. They even convince themselves that they are the only people – the chosen ones – who heard the person in authority right and everyone else is wrong. Given the benefit of the doubt, that position could just be a case of mistaken interpretation; however, if that person or group then take it upon themselves to not only steadfastly refuse to believe reality but change it forcefully into what they believe their superiors actually require of them, then they have lost the compass completely and are just wandering listlessly in their own private thought-inhibiting deserts.

The shame of course is that those people have been placed in the highest chamber in the land to do good for and by the people. But what they actually do is just contribute to the noxious gases in that chamber. Gases which seem to have addled their brains but never touched their conscience. Like others before them in history, the pain of survivors is not their concern.

They might be masochists and enjoy such conditions, which is fine, it is their right to choose the manner in which they will be ultimately remembered, but when those people deter a whole country and people from finding the path to salvation, the path to ameliorate feelings of pain, destitution, subjugation and torture and incarceration and gross disregards for human dignity and rights, then it is plain that they are part of the continuing problem.

So out of 38 they get one representative, copiously living in privilege unashamedly uncaring of an adopted society which welcomed them with open arms, perpetuating a private dream that the translation of a leader’s perceived wishes is what constitutes the modus operandi of human rights work; while an other, a co-conspirator, transcribes uninformed and idiotic plans to derail the efforts of those who choose to protect the sanctity and honour of this society and heal its wounds.

They get rewarded, of course, by seats they could never fulfill, yet think that they will never vacate. Hence, they have never had the reason to put forward any germane idea or wish to better the society which embraced them, but continue to solely pad their nests by ascribing to their own perception of a noble goal: that of subservience to a master on which their fervent hopes and aspirations is to be noticed in order to bask in his largess.

All for a handful of silver.

As if that shiny metal is going to rub away the tattooed numbers, the missing fathers, the raped mothers and daughters, the tortured and wronged.

My dear cousin, this is our holocaust. We need to deal with it so we can move forward.

Will you be kind enough to move aside so the caravan can pass, or would you rather be trampled and thrown to the rubbish heaps of history as you so richly deserve?


Why is ‘Sorry’ such a difficult word?

I’m not sure why this is the case, and am not sure why is it so difficult to understand that in order to move forward as a society some truths must be recognised and reparations made.

Iman Shwaiter at the Truth and Reconciliation workshop at Waad

Iman Shwaiter crying in memory of her husband (Hashim Al-Alawi) who was kidnapped, tortured and killed by Bahraini security forces in the 90s this was during a workshop on Truth and Reconciliation by 11 political societies, human rights organisations and activists in Wa’ad’s premises on 23 June ’07

Sayid Alawi Sayid Hassan at the Truth and Reconciliation workshop at Waad

Sayid Alawi Sayid Hassan with his nephew Mohammed Al-Nasheet (left) assisting him to speak of his suffering at the hands of State Security’s apprehension, imprisonment and torture.

It is an inescapable fact that every single on of us Bahrainis knows of the torture stories which were prevalent in the 70s through the 90s. Every one of us probably has a relative who suffered at the hands of torturers resulting in either deep psychological scarring or in more than 40 cases, death.

We also recognise that some violence perpetrated by citizens resulted in unfortunate ends, be that causing the death of individuals or damage done to property.

In either case, why shouldn’t an independent commission be convened to open those festering wounds, clean them up and restitch them again so that they can heal properly and we can move forward with our lives? In almost all cases a word of recognition and apology is all that is required. Even if monetary reparation is to be done to the people who suffered, that compensation should be paid in order to invest in a better future.

These feelings are one major source of strife in Bahrain and I am surprised that they are not ameliorated by the inaction of proper programs to relieve that pain.

Yes, some would argue, as has already been done, that the National Charter and the General Amnesty Law are enough. I contend that they are not as they came from one side only. They most definitely provide the basic framework from which redress and reconciliation could be started; however, truth should be sought and facts broadcast in order to recognise the depth of the problem and work toward resolving them.

We have ample examples in the world which we can emulate. South Africa is the most successful attempt at proper truth and reconciliation and so is the Moroccan commission to a large extent. We should learn from them and not just hide our head in the sand by stating that those are “foreign experiments” that we should simply ignore. If we accept that attitude, we might as well forget about all the planned reforms as they all depend on foreign experience to ensure their success!

So come on, for the sake of Bahrain, let us just get this much needed commission inaugurated and give them all the tools that they require to out truths and seek reparations in order to insure a better, fuller and more cohesive Bahrain.



Truth & Reconciliation

Bahraini king meeting human rights societies

News reports out today suggest that the king has given his blessing to convening a Truth and Reconciliation Workshop by human rights societies in Bahrain which was previously blocked by authorities, with several provisos;

  1. Don’t involve foreigners
  2. The reconciliation is deemed to have already taken place by the inculcation of laws 10 of 2001 and 56 of 2002 which provided a general amnesty and allowed the expelled to return home
  3. The Complaints & Grievances office’s door has always been open through which issues are resolved and brought to the attention of his majesty

In a reaction to the meeting, the human rights activist Abdulla Al-Durazi said:

من جهته أكد نائب الأمين العام للجمعية البحرينية لحقوق الإنسان عبدالله الدرازي دعم عاهل البلاد لجهود الجمعية البحرينية لحقوق الإنسان في عقد ورشة (مشروع الحقيقة والإنصاف والمصالحة في البحرين)’’، لافتاً إلى ‘’مباركة الملك لتشكيل لجنة وطنية للإنصاف’’. وقال الدرازي بعيد لقاء عاهل البلاد بأعضاء جمعيتي البحرين لحقوق الإنسان وجمعية البحرين لمراقبة حقوق الإنسان ‘’عرضنا على الملك تشكيل لجنة لإنصاف ضحايا الحقبة السابقة تشكل بأمر منه، لكنه أشار إلى ان المصالحة قد تمت، ولكن ذلك لا يمنع ان تتشكل اللجنة وان تعملوا فيها معتمدين في ذلك على الخبرات التي تتمتعون بها’’.

The Deputy Secretary General of the Bahrain Human Rights Society Abdulla Al-Durazi asserted the monarch’s support for the efforts of the Bahraini human rights societies in convening the Truth, Redress and Reconciliation Workshop in Bahrain, pointing out the king’s blessings for the formation of a national committee for redress. Al-Durazi said shortly after the king’s meeting with the Bahrain Human Rights and the Bahrain Human Rights Watch Societies that we suggested that the king would give his order to form a Committee of Redress of victims of the previous era, but he declined and said that redressed has already been effected, but there is no objection to the formation of such a committee which should only utilise Bahraini expertise.

This is progress. Hesitant and half hearted as it may seem, but progress none-the-less. We can now start building proper truth and reconciliation mechanisms in order to bring justice to those who suffered for over 80 years in this country and with that we can truly turn the page and start working on integrating this society and remove the sectarian thinking which has ripped the community apart.


Red taped social responsibility

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As a human being, when you see a rock on the road that might impede your neighbour or fellow human being and you could move it to the side, I am sure that the majority of people will just move it spontaneously. If they can’t, they’ll try to warn people about it and maybe try to get the municipality to come and remove it.

If you see a bird stuck in a net, you would untangle it and set it free.

If you saw a thirsty dog, I am sure that a lot of people will stop and try to find it water.

If you saw a person lying on the ground dying, or in pain, you would at least try to call an ambulance to help.

You would do all of the above on the spur of the moment. There is no need to think about what you are going to do, for the most part you would just get on with the job of helping, then deal with any other surrounding circumstances (call the BSPCA to collect the dog, investigate why that net was there in the first place, find the cause of why that rock was there and try to ensure that doesn’t happen again, etc.).

But what if your own society is suffering, sick and dying? Would you not try to get to the cause of that ailment and try – as an individual and then group – to do something about it?

All of the above falls under the social responsibility of the individual and group. None of the above should require a permit to perform good and ameliorate pain. For in those actions you elevate the individual and society.

My personal belief is that I would not seek a permit to do good for my society or for humanity on a larger scale. I would just go ahead and do it – and I have – and encourage every person to do the same. For if we hesitate, the situation might very well turn to the worse very quickly.

So why does a workshop on Truth and Reconciliation face official sanction and red tape? I would have thought that something as important and much needed as this which is a good step toward national reconciliation would be welcomed with open arms, and all resources made available to it to ensure its success.

But the ministry whose mandate is purportedly to elevate the individual and society thinks otherwise.


Police’s perspective

Rioters are using weapons that can kill or maim and police have a right to defend themselves, Capt Bu Najma said in an exclusive interview with the GDN.

Reaction by the security forces was ‘mild’ in comparison with the violence used by the rioters, he said.

police brutality in Bahrain officially condoned

“They (rioters) have used Molotov cocktails, sharp sticks, sling shots and even golf balls, which can kill,” said Capt Bu Najma.

“The tyres they burn are dangerous as well and produce noxious gases that can harm.

In turn, the police use tear gas that is an internationally-accepted tool to deal with violent protests.

He denied that police used ‘rubber bullets’, saying they were “only rubber” and “not bullets”.

They are used by trained hands who know where to shoot and from what distance.

Riots ‘orchestrated’ – GDN – 10 June, ’07

Ahhhh, this drink is SO refreshing! Can I have some more please?


Defamation case thrown out by High Court

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The High Court dismissed a defamation case brought by the president of the Arabian Gulf University Dr Rafia Ghubash against journalist Hisham Al-Zayani.

I wish to offer my congratulations to Mr. Al-Zayani for winning the case, even though the decision has taken over 2 years to be determined. This rare victory for the written word should be guardedly welcomed as the current Press and Publications Law still allows for the imprisonment of journalists and it is high time that it is changed.