Tag Archives police

Is the #DurazSiege at an end?

Is the #DurazSiege at an end?

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I woke up with a start two or three times last night and couldn’t figure out why….

Then it dawned on me.

The quiet.

No police helicopters buzzing overhead at low altitude.

In the vicinity of Duraz, we see and hear helicopters flying at relatively low altitude day and night. Every single day since the Duraz Siege started almost a year ago exactly. Last night, I think, was the first time in a year that we didn’t see or hear a helicopter overhead. Their noise, after a while, is maddening.

The #DurazSiege is more than “inconvenient” checkpoints. The state of mind it creates and the terror it permeates through the community it is imposed upon will take a very long time to heal.

Is it over then? I’m not sure.

People were not harassed yesterday and cars were left to pass without drivers being stopped to show their IDs at checkpoints, but police presence at all the traditional locations is still very much apparent. I know that what is happening inside the village is much worse than simple checkpoints. My thoughts and feelings continues to be with them.

One day, there will be forgiveness and we will move on. Hopefully. Though we should never forget the terror that such inhuman measures create.

This could all have been resolved with dialogue. And the results of that dialogue would have been much more palatable to all, and much longer lasting and provide for more stability than any imposed police or military measures.

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DurazSiege True Stories: Day 301

DurazSiege True Stories: Day 301

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I was barred from walking through the checkpoint at Oxygen Gym to my house which is just 300 meters away last night due to the ongoing #DurazSiege.

The policeman insisted that it is closed for all traffic, including pedestrians, and I have to go to the main checkpoint at the entrance of Avenue 36. That is a roundabout walk of about 3km to gain entrance to the besieged area.

Where is the sanity in this?

Explaining to him that I have been walking through this very checkpoint every single day for 301 days without a problem was to no avail. He finally relented and let me through with a stern warning not to try to walk through this point again!

Welcome to my – and those of some 20,000 other souls’ – life.

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Rogue Police or Systematic Terrorism?

Rogue Police or Systematic Terrorism?

Another day, and another staggering example of Bahraini police inhumanity, irresponsibility and criminality which can only be borne of the certain escape from prosecution is shown to the world:

Why?

What possible reason encourages someone who’s been entrusted with the upkeep of the law and protection of citizens to do the diametric opposite and wilfully endanger the very charges he has been sworn (presumably) to protect?

And what of his colleagues who are sitting in those air conditioned Jeeps? Did their conscience not at least tickle them to prevent their team mate from carrying out this heinous and completely unnecessary act or throwing that tear gas canister into a ladies beauty parlour? What danger do those inside pose?

This is not the only instance in which we witnessed such behaviour from the Bahraini police. There are tens of others which are easily accessible to show that there is no other interpretation to their consistent brutality other than acquiescence from the very top of their pyramid. If there wasn’t, then what possible reason is there that clearly identified personnel demonstrably disregarding basic human logic by inflicting unnecessary pain and suffering from being prosecuted to the maximum extent of the law to ensure that others like them – like those persons in those two vehicles shown in the video above who are fully culpable in this crime – don’t follow suit?

It is absolutely abhorrent that these crimes are being perpetrated on human beings, it is even more so to find these acts are condoned and encouraged by the absence of any intent to prosecute and persecute those perpetrating them.

Security is absent in this country and it shall continue to be so until people answer for their actions in a universally applied rule of law.

Bahraini police terrorises residents

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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.

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Oy! Yates! Still feel safe here?

Oy! Yates! Still feel safe here?

He might. I and hundreds of thousands of Bahrainis certainly feel anything but.

And no, this is not a feeling that actually is due to the following video, in which police are seen aiding, abetting and participating in the wanton destruction, thieving and ransacking of a Bahraini business. We’ve actually felt that for quite some time, but people, bless them, always thought that we were just being dramatic! The events of the last fourteen months, the death of some 88 fellow Bahrainis due to police and state action, have certainly augmented that reality for us, and we’re now officially fed up!

Here’s the close-circuit camera security video of the Jawad Business Group owned 24-hour Market near the village of Nuwaidrat by the ALBA roundabout recorded on April 10th, 2012:

Will there now be an honest investigation and will there be any consequences to the culprits this time? Considering that this is apparently the 58th (yes, fifty-eightth) attack on Jawad’s enterprises since March last year. And if there is an investigation, what will be the outcome? Well, I’m willing to bet that the police officers involved in this will not be penalized. The thieving policeman who helped himself to water will not even be asked to pay its price. The vandals will be let go, or maybe suffer the indignity of a slapped wrist. But the real penalty will land – once again – on the victim. Jawad Business Group will be made to suffer even more for having the temerity of making such a video available to the public by allowing it to be released.

Really!

How dare Jawad do that? Don’t they know that by their action they will have deepened the schism of social hatred? Don’t they know that they have now contributed to the complete breakdown of social cohesion? Didn’t they think that they would have broken down the national unity? And above all else, they have intentionally besmirched the honor and dignity of our illustrious bawasil!

The police and the officers involved there need to be rewarded for their admirable self constraint. And as far as the thugs, thieves and vandals – sorry, the honorable Bahraini citizens who are only doing their duty – well, they’ll probably sleep off their exertions in their barracks for a while, before they’re goaded once again to do God’s work.

Welcome, to another safe day in Bahrain.

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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.

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“It was just a bump” they claimed

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With 15 people still in custody for allegedly torching a police car and stealing a weapon, there were several claims of the accused being subjected to harsh treatment including beatings. Their lawyer demanded that they immediately be submitted to medical examination to ascertain the reality of the situation, the Ministry of Interior refused initially, but under mounting pressure, ultimately agreed but only after about a month had passed after the initial allegations surfaced. They also required that the assigned doctors were government appointed. They refused – point blank – any doctor proposed by human rights societies.

Stop police brutalityUnfortunately for the Ministry of Interior, the doctors’ reports submitted to court yesterday unequivocally showed that some of the accused were in fact subjected to beatings and mistreatment.

“Not so!” the Ministry cried out, and demanded that the examining doctors should be brought in for cross examination.

Let me re-iterate my position once again: if an independent investigation and trial clearly shows that the accused did torch the police car and stole the gun and ammunition then they should be thrown in prison to serve whatever the court decides as a fit punishment for them.

However, that does not, ever, excuse the Ministry of Interior’s personnel for beating them or subjecting them to any form of mistreatment. They should have abided by normal and decent human rights codes by at least not forcibly extracting false confessions – sorry, there is no other explanation for using such barbaric methods.

Therefore, and regardless of their crime, this is a clear technical infringement on the accused’s rights and hence should immediately be released. The people who did the beatings should be thrown in jail instead.

This incident brings to mind a joke a friend of mine related to me recently, it deals with how Arab police – stereotypically – go about their business:

    On a police course conducted by an international police training institute, three Arab policemen trainees where told to go into the woods and catch a rabbit as part of survival skills development.

    Off the trainees went to pursue their task, but the instructors got worried when several hours later their charges still did not report back. Going a short distance into the woods, they heard some shouts and thumps. Quickening their pace, they came upon a clearing with the three trainees surrounding something lying on the ground which was moaning with pain.

    Alarmed at the situation, the trainers stealthily approached the scene furtively to try to discover what was going on, when all of a sudden, and amongst much mirth and laughter by their charges, they noticed that two of the trainees where holding down a bloodied and nearly dead dear while the third was kicking the shit out of it and shouting:

    “confess that you are a rabbit, you bastard, CONFESS!”

Does that sound familiar? If there are no respect for human rights by the organ which should most apply them, there is absolutely no hope for justice.

This has brought shame, again, on the whole country and everybody in it. The accused have had their rights flouted and as such, no case should be brought against them, even if they are proven guilty.

The people who should be punished are those who beat them and infringed upon their charges’ basic human rights.

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Descending into chaos

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Who benefits from violence? Who benefits from this?

A police jeep set ablaze by Molotov cocktail bomb

The above is a very unfortunate escalation of violence in Bahrain by people who think that this sort of criminal activity will help our democracy movement! And the thing that beggars belief is that we find people condoning this activity or are in complete and utter denial. Putting “their side” on a pedestal and who can do no wrong whatsoever; while on the other hand, they blame the government for all ills without recognising a single positive aspect of its creation.

Yes, we do have problems, but the line must be drawn in our own psyche to ensure that we actually do recognise wrong when we see it, regardless of who perpetrates it. And we should also drop those continuous conspiracy theories which some use to justify wrongs. In this particular instance; can anyone come up with a valid scenario in which we see elements in our government would actually sponsor people to throw Molotov cocktails on their own occupied police vehicles and sacrifice a human life while putting others in jeopardy simply to score a point?

What insanity is this?

Does anyone reading this imagine for a second that if the government wanted to really clamp down on society, or even re-introduce the now defunct State Security Law that it can’t? Or that it has to escalate the security situation so much by sacrificing human beings in order to justify imposing it again?

I have no illusion whatsoever about the machinations our government can and does enter into to protect its interests, as do every single government and ruling system on God’s green Earth, but descending to this level – by our government – is not one of those methods. At least I hope not.

Getting back to the original question I posed, who benefits from this descent into chaos? I propose that no one does. There is no way that anyone can benefit from continuous violence, tyre burning, molotov throwing, vehicle burning, tear gas inhaling, rubber bullets, or any other the other subjugation and criminal methods. Violence only begets violence, and if no criminal law in imposed on the perpetrators, then people might very well escalate the situation even further. So far it has been tyres and police cars, tomorrow it would be houses and taking of lives which will destroy the country and any progress opportunities for this country.

I fervently hope that the criminals who did this act be caught, squarely tried in a court of law, and sentenced for the remainder of their miserable lives.

Enough is enough. On both sides. We want to live with a semblance of harmony for goodness’ sake. These vandalism and criminal acts are not helping one little bit. Everybody, even who are called the opposition should come out and unambiguously condemn these criminal acts.

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“Martyr’s Day” commemoration death

I’ve just received a report that a Ali Jassim Mohammed, a 31 year old, was taken to the International Hospital about two hours ago in an unconscious state due to tear-gas exposure fired at a demonstration in Jidd Haffs.

He was one of many taking part to commemorate the contentious “Martyr’s Day” which the opposition wants to commemorate annually on the 17th of December, a day which has been inaugurated by the authorities as the “King’s Ascension Day”. The Ministry of Interior apparently issued a press release in which it stated that Ali’s death was due to a heart attack rather than tear-gas related. There are currently serious riots going on at the mortuary between the demonstrators and the police.

Ali is reportedly recently married and was awaiting his first born soon. May his soul rest in peace.

Ours; however, will probably continue to be tormented by this ridiculous push-and-pull relationship between some elements of the opposition and the regime both of whom so far have failed to resolve their points of difference. Their dialogue, if at all it exists, can’t be anything but like a conversation between two deaf and dumb people with neither side prepared to listen.

If they really want to get this tiring situation fixed, I suggest they both read Wa’ad’s National Day declaration [translation], turn it into a manifesto and work toward its accomplishment. How difficult is it really to recognise our shortcomings and work together toward an equitable resolution?

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