Tag Archives Politics

Wealth and press freedom don’t always go together

As in 2002, the ranking shows that a country’s respect for press freedom is not solely linked to its economic development. The top 50 include countries that are among the poorest in the world, such as Benin (29th position), Timor-Leste (30th) and Madagascar (46th).

Conversely, the 50 countries that respect press freedom least include such rich nations as Bahrain (117th) and Singapore (144th)

Reporters without frontiers

So who’s freeer than Bahrain in the Arab world then and how do they rank? If you followed the link to RSF above you would have probably found out by now, if not then here’s who beats Bahrain in the Arab world:

  • Kuwait – 102
  • Lebanon – 106
  • Algeria – 108
  • Egypt – 110
  • Qatar – 115

This is not a race, people. This is something to be absolutely ashamed of. Bahrain is supposed to be a democracy now and we should be able – as is guaranteed by the constitution (?) – to speak our mind, criticise without fear of persecution all for the benefit of the country and its people. So why are we STILL ranked so lowly? Why is the press law still being debated in a stick and carrot fashion? Why do we have such an ineffective, placatory, ass-kissing press rather than a press that tells it as it is? Do they still fear persecution, torture, and expulsion as was the case just a few years ago?

I commented in another article that one site was completely blocked. Maybe it was being blocked because of its coverage of a discrimination seminar that has shaken the “powers that be” in the country over the last couple of days, but it might also have been due to technical failure. In any case I am glad to see that the links provided in the mentioned article actual do work (they did a few minutes before posting this comment.)

As Bahrainies, we should not just sit and wait for things to be decided for us, we should really stand by the reforming press and get this totally incapable parliament to get the press laws amended immediately.

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something’s amiss

browsing various news sources this morning, I found a very small piece in the local rag entitled: “Clubs rap bid to harm unity”, I can’t provide a link to it as they change their stories’ links when they go into the archive, stupid way to manage a newspaper’s website, but there you go, so allow me to copy it for you here:

Several Bahrain clubs and their members issued separate statements early today condemning speeches that were made at a symposium at Al Oruba Club last night.

The statements said the speeches were designed to create differences between the Bahraini people, harm national unity and damage the reforms programme initiated by His Majesty King Hamad.

The clubs, including Muharraq Club, Manama Sports Club and the Al Hala Sports Club, said Bahrain was now living in a democratic environment and denounced any efforts to disturb security and stability. In their statements, the clubs affirmed their support for the reforms programme being carried out by the government.

Source: Gulf Daily News

Huh? I already announced this event on bahraini.tv yesterday and was actually meaning to attend this seminar but couldn’t for various reasons.

So trying to investigate further, I found that the Voice of Bahrain site is still blocked as is a popular Bahraini Forums site called “BahrainOnline“.

WTF! So searching some more I fell on alduraz.net which is ironic as I live right next to Duraz village! Anyway, they have a post in their forums entitled Sectarian discrimination in the kingdom of Bahrain:The Unwritten Law which I thought is very close to the title of the seminar last night. That article (scroll down for the English version) is very interesting reading, and to us Bahrainis it’s really nothing new.

I suspect that the seminar last night was to present primarily this paper which is written by Nabil Rajab who is the head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights.

I’ll try to dig some more and find out what actually was presented last night… stay tuned.

UPDATE: Here’s a link to the archive of the seminar again from alduraz.net, however it’s in Arabic only,

UPDATE 2: Forget about most of the links in this article, in less than an hour from posting them, they’ve almost all have been blocked. When I find the articles again (at least the English press release or working paper presented at the seminar, I’ll put them up here for your edification.)

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Veiled women allowed to drive

While road-deaths have increased in Bahrain from 54 in 1995 to 81 in 2002, the number of cars increased from 169,318 in 1995 to 250,978 in 2002 and not a day passes without a serious sometimes fatal road accident, we now have a law allowing veiled women to drive!

That is, women who cover their faces completely with semi-transparent cloth. Some I’m sure will say that the cloth does not restrict vision and it’s like sun-glasses. Yeah sure!

This is the result of our infant Parliament. This is their major achievement in their last session. I’m sure that next they will find other very worthy cause to take up. And we all know that we do NOT have any other immediate problems to resolve like unemployment, a high increase in crime, continuing road congestion, etc. Allowing veiled women to drive is of the highest national priority.

Apart from that, now if you are unfortunate enough to get involved in an accident with a veiled woman driver, you have to wait for one of the seven traffic police-women to come to the sight of the accident to resolve the matter, NOT a normal traffic (male) cop.

Here are some recent links so you can form your own opinions:
– Anger over accident blackspot
– BD 200 million to be spent to slash road deaths
– Indian killed in traffic accident

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…and I thought democracy means constructive criticism?

The Bahraini press is threatening national unity and abusing the democratic system, the Minister of Information was quoted as saying yesterday.

Nabeel Al Hamer was quoted during a meeting with newspaper editors as saying the government will not tolerate those in the press who are trying to “sabotage” the democratic reforms.

“We will not, under any pretext, tolerate those abusing the democracy now available in the kingdom in order to sabotage the democratic achievements,” he told them.

Gulf News | By Mohammed Almezel | 10-06-2003

and this comes from a journalist! The minister was the managing editor of Al-Ayam newspaper for a very long time. It’s heartening to find his views have changed somewhat since he became the minister of information.

So what the hell is happening here then? This “outburst” was due to a couple of articles in the papers that I think constructively criticised the government. And isn’t constructive criticism the basis of democratic life? So what should we do now? Just turn a blind eye to everything that might be deemed “offensive” or against the government?

gimme a break.. MAKE UP YOUR MIND, either be democratic or let’s just go back to where we were before ’99. At least then everyone knew what the rules were and where the red-line was. Democracy as far as I understand it doesn’t have any red-lines. If the law on the other hand did set a red-line that no one is allowed to cross, let the (competent) courts handle that through laws, but don’t just keep shifting the line here and there at a whim.

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33,000 petition King Hamad

A petition signed by 33,000 Bahrainis was delivered today to the Royal Court in an attempt to repeal Law by Decree number 56 which had granted impunity from prosecution to a former security officer, accused of abusing human rights.

As far as I know, this petition is not just to try to bring just one person to justice, but I know that there are several others who have taken advantage of their various positions in government previously by abusing people, toruture, killings, embezzlement and blackmail.

I know that “56” also exonerates the opposition as well from their actions during the disturbances that plagued Bahrain in the ’90s, but what is buring rubber tires to having your whole fortune forcebly removed from you on pain of death to you and your family, what is it to using electric drills to puncture holes in a person’s kneecaps and other parts of the body, what is it to a policeman (okay he was high up in the infrastructure) who is around 40 years old owning variuos prime property in Australia among other places, and collecting a fortune estimated at more than BD 60 million (~$160m)?

I personally don’t care about these people’s wealth, what I want to see is them brought to justise as part of the community’s reconciliation. Only after this happens to all who violated the trust of the people, will we be able to live in a new era without fear of persecution, and trust the system that our rights are inviolate protected by law that covers every member of the society equally.

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To hell with democracy.. bring back the old ways

For the first time in my life I voted for the Bahraini Parliament. Now I know that I should not have bothered. Democracy is not worth it and it doesn’t work in the Arab world in general and Bahrain in particular.

They have been operating now since October 2002. Almost a full term considering that they’ve just voted to take 3 months off for summer! They want to be addressed as “your excellency”. They insist on getting Mercedes S320 cars with drivers. They get between BD 2,000 and 3,000 per month, maybe more if they’re involved in various committees and shall not be surprised if they also get overtime pay.

What the bloody hell are these people doing? Did they do a single thing since taking office to better the way of life in Bahrain?

Consider this:

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