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Saying NO to the Shock Doctrine

Saying NO to the Shock Doctrine

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My friend Doug Doulton shared this on his Facebook timeline:

 

In it, Naomi Klein states:

Shock. It’s a word that has come up a lot since November— for obvious reasons.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about shock. Ten years ago, I published “The Shock Doctrine,” an investigation that spanned four decades from Pinochet’s U.S.-backed coup in 1970s Chile to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

I noticed a brutal and recurring tactic by right wing governments. After a shocking event – a war, coup, terrorist attack, market crash or natural disaster – exploit the public’s disorientation. Suspend democracy.  Push through radical “free market” policies that enrich the 1 percent at the expense of the poor and middle class.

The administration is creating chaos. Daily. Of course many of the scandals are the result of the president’s ignorance and blunders – not some nefarious strategy.

But there is also no doubt that some savvy people around Trump are using the daily shocks as cover to advance wildly pro-corporate policies that bear little resemblance to what Trump pledged on the campaign trail.

And the worst part? This is likely just the warm up.

Click here to read the full article.

 

Yes. We have and are living this in the Middle East. We have endured this kind of strategy for millennia. What we lack, I believe, is the implementation of points two through five of what Ms Klein proposes. Tunisia is the only country so far which has pushed through and we see them somewhat succeed.

The remaining countries have a few millennia to catch up it seems.

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Selective Citizenship, Bahraini-style

Selective Citizenship, Bahraini-style

Parliament is considering legislation by the government to compel Bahrainis with multiple-citizenship to rescind them in favour of the Bahraini citizenship within 3 months of the legislation becoming the law.

I know that many countries in the world have similar conditions for their citizens. What is different in our situation is that I know – through precedent – that if this law sees the light of day, and I believe it is as this parliament doesn’t have the balls to refuse anything the government shoves down its throat, it will be once again selectively applied.

Consider this: most of those affected by this law will probably be many members of the royal family, the “top” merchant families and the rest of the upper echelons of society…. I wonder if they’ll acquiesce to the government’s mandate, or are they going to simply ignore it, like they do with most other laws?

Regardless, I don’t believe that the government will pursue them of course, the law will not apply to them. It’s highly probable; however, that they will enact penalties against those less fortunate, or more appropriately, those the government deems from the opposition, undesirable for some reason, or those that it wants to intimidate or harass to leave.

Fun. And games.

This gives you a flavour of the so-called parliament we are saddled with. A bunch or rubber-stampers. One that instead of protecting the society that has supposedly elected it, are diligently working to rob it of whatever minuscule freedoms that remain. And at the same time haplessly pushing through laws which reduce the parliament’s very own rights too. Despicable.

And this has been forced through by the government in the last few days of their term, capitalising on their “injury time” as they’re about to break and  with elections scheduled for the autumn. Whether those elections will be effective amongst wide calls of boycott is another matter. In any case, I believe that this is the very worst parliament we have ever had in this country and fully agree with Shaikha Mai who wasn’t wrong when she described them as “not men”, or “مو رياييل”, because they’re anything but.

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A Letter from Arif Aldoseri to the Minister of Housing

A Letter from Arif Aldoseri to the Minister of Housing

A video letter from a Bahraini citizen – Arif Aldoseri – to the minister of housing (in Arabic). Worth watching as it shows you what normal citizens in Bahrain are suffering from as they live in a country rich enough in resources and have many billions of US Dollars pumped into it by neighbouring countries.

This is symptomatic of the government’s continued failure in various sectors. The way that these situations could be corrected is by holding the government to account by the people. Unfortunately, those in Parliament whose job it is to ensure accountability and a sustainable future for the country are very complicit in those continued government failures. And unless proper representation is achieved, a more equitable distribution of national wealth and the establishment of social justice permeates all aspects of this country, we shall continue going through the strife we have experienced for decades.

Merry Christmas!

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Redressing the wronged employees

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In this country, over a thousand have been dismissed from their positions for doing nothing other than expressing their opinions. Quite a number were fired for simply being Shi’a. My head just cannot get around this. Disregard, for the moment, the fact the as many households have been disadvantaged directly due to this despicable practice, how on earth do those who have ordered this heinous crime to be committed and those who condoned such collective punishment dream of this helping their cause, let alone the country as a whole? And how can others expect that with just another stroke of the pen that the damage will be contained and things will go back to normal? How can they ever think that the poisoned and poisonous atmospheres which have been created ever be effective again without the root causes be addressed first?

Yes, the king has ordered those dismissed to be re-instated. Apart from the fact that his order being ignored initially, then very reluctantly implemented with various conditions and reservations attached, people who have gone back found that they were forced into different – sometimes menial – positions and they have had to accept and sign humiliating contracts and accept the loss of back-pay as well as rescind any labour or court cases they might have raised against their employers.

The question is: did those who’ve dreamt up this revengeful scheme ever think that they would be allowed to get away with it? Did they mistake the times we’re living in to be medieval with disconnected fiefdoms and whatever they as overlords wish shall be done with alacrity and without any consequences?

If they have – and it appears that some certainly did – then the life they’re living is an isolated one in their own minds, and is of their own making.

How can this mess be fixed now?

If the offered fixes follow the perennial methods which treat symptoms rather than the causes, then their efficacy will be wanting. Nothing other than addressing root causes will work; the legal employment structure must be re-examined especially in the public sector, and I suggest the heads of the Civil Service Bureau be relieved of their duties for not standing up for their employees in the first instance. Second, adequate compensation for the wrongful dismissals and for the trauma those actions have caused and most importantly those responsible for giving out those despicable orders and their attached witch-hunting committees must be held to account, publicly. They have done untold damage to this country and its society. As such, they must be penalized and made example of so that this abrogation of responsibility and revengeful and criminal behaviour is never allowed to happen again.

Resolution won’t happen until these matters are adequately and ethically addressed.

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Demonstration at Parliament on Thursday, be there!

«الصحفيين» تدعو للاعتصام أمــــام «النيــابي» الخميــس المقبــل

ناشدت جمعية الصحفيين البحرينية جموع الصحافيين والمثقفين والفنانين البحرينيين ”الاعتصام أمام مجلس النواب الخميس المقبل، احتجاجا على مجمل ما أنتجه المجلس في دورته الحالية من قرارات ولجان تحقيق بحق الثقافة والإبداع وحرية الكلمة”.

وفي سياق متصل، استغربت الجمعية في بيان أصدرته أمس (الأحد) رفض لجنة الشؤون التشريعية بالمجلس رفع الحصانة عن عضو كتلة المنبر الإسلامي النائب محمد خالد في القضية التي رفعها ضده رئيس الجمعية عيسى الشايجي.

وعبرت الجمعية في بيانها عن ”كامل تضامنها مع الزميل الشايجي فيما تعرض له من إهانة وقذف مباشر من قبل النائب خالد”ØŒ معربة عن قلقها من ”اتجاه الكتل النيابية الأعضاء في اللجنة للمساس بحرية الصحافة وقمعها معتمدين على الحصانة النيابية ”ØŒ وفق البيان. واعتبرت الجمعية، هذا الموقف من قبل النواب ”مخزٍ، ويطرح الكثير من الأسئلة عن مصداقية المجلس من جهة وعن تلك الوعود التي أطلقوها في الدفاع عن الصحافيين وإصدار قانون صحافة متطور من جهة أخرى”.

The Bahrain Journalists Association has called for a demonstration in front of the Parliament building this Thursday at 5pm 4.30pm to show to denounce the dearth of parliamentary output in its first session.

The BJA also expresses its deep concern for parliament’s refusal to remove MP Mohammed Khaled’s parliamentary immunity so that he can be tried in a case levied against him by the president of the BJA Isa Al-Shaiji for defamation and slander.

I plan to be there, it is important to demonstrate to the “people’s representatives” that they are anything but. Especially with the ridiculous efforts exerted by them collectively to restrict personal and all other freedoms.

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Case Deferred

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We went to the court this morning with a number of people already present and offered their support. But due to the main judge’s family bereavement, for which I would like to offer my sincere condolences to Shaikh Mohammed bin Ali on the passing of his mother, the case has been administratively deferred to be heard on May 8th.

I would also like to sincerely thank everyone who was present and all of those who called, emailed and texted their support as well.

In particular I would like to thank the lead advocate Ms. Fatima Al-Hawaj and the legal team offered by the Bahrain Human Rights Society to assist Ms. Al-Hawaj in the case, Lawyers Nawaf Al-Sayed and Lo’ay Qarouni; Tawfiq Al-Rayyash, Nabeel Rajab of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, the head of the Bahrain Journalists Union Mohammed Fadhel, journalists Mohammed Al-Sawwad from Al-Waqt (who was involved very recently in a similar case), Mohammed Aslam of the GDN, Mohammed Abbas of Reuters, Sandeep Singh Grewal from the Bahrain Tribune and Adel Al-Shaikh from Al-Wasat.

I would also like to sincerely thank my family who have always stood by me. My wife Frances, my brother Jamal and sister Maha as well as my children. I am sure that if my other siblings were in Bahrain they would have not hesitated an instant by being present to offer their support.

The legal team have asked for the case’s documents for their review and preparation, and we await the new court’s date to present our case before the High Criminal Court.

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Thoughts on tomorrow

Thank you all for your unstinting support. I truly appreciate it.

What I want to emphasize, if I may, this is not really a case against Mahmood Al-Yousif as much as it is a case against the tenets of the freedom of expression.

We, the people, should not be cowed into a status of never questioning or criticising a government official no matter how high that position is. They have to realise themselves, or be made to realise that the positions they occupy being called “civil servants” is no accident of nomenclature, but fact.

Unfortunately, both the Penal Code and the Press & Publications Law specifically not only discourages this civic responsibility of criticism, but glaringly criminalise it!

Is it any wonder that these very officials have risen within their own spheres to a status of demi-gods, inviolate, unapproachable and completely disconnected with the very people they are sworn to serve?

Parliament, on the other hand, continues to prevaricate and hasn’t even scheduled discussions on a retooled Press & Publications law which will elevate freedoms of expression in all its forms, concerning themselves more with perceived sorcerers and witches!

No, this is not a case against Mahmood Al-Yousif and never was. What I have written is rather mild when you consider it. This is a case purposefully levied to silence criticism.

Today it is me. Tomorrow it is everyone who dares to even glance “wrongly” at a public official, even if that official happens to be a janitor.

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Libel case to be heard in the High Criminal Court!

bin Rajab vs Al-Yousif High Criminal Court summons

I received a summons yesterday delivered to my home instructing me to present myself at the High Criminal Court next Tuesday (17 April 2007) charged under both the Penal Code (3/92, 364, 365) and the Press & Publications Law 47/2002 (3/4, 72, 77) in the defamation case brought against me by a sitting minister; H. E. Mansour Hassan bin Rajab, the Minister of Agricultural Affairs and Municipalities relating to my criticism of his public figure and that of his ministry for lackadaisical performance in executing their duties.

I am grateful for the various mediation efforts enacted on my behalf which have gained the Minister’s assurances – twice – that he would drop the case; however, unfortunately this obviously has not happened.

I am very grateful for the tremendous support I have received from Bahraini and international journalists and friends in this regard. They not only promise to be present at the trial in a show of solidarity, but the Bahrain Journalists’ Association specifically have appointed Ms. Fatima Al-Hawaj to take up the defence of the case on my behalf.

I have also received and continue to receive the unstinting support from the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights as well as the Bahrain Human Rights Society. I truly appreciate their advice and their support.

I am convinced that I did no wrong. I have portrayed my criticism squarely at a public figure and a government organ both of whom I think did not execute their job to the full extent of their capability. This case is nothing more than a scare tactic to silence any form of criticism, especially that of a public official. Why else is a case like this is to be heard at the highest criminal court in the land? Why else is a defamation case looked at in the same court that adjudicates murder and treason cases?

I believe in our constitution, and believe in the human right of free speech and expression. I know that with your support I can go through this.

If you wish, you can show your support by writing about this case and you are more than welcome to be present at the court next Tuesday morning to show your support.

For background information about this case, please use the following link:
http://mahmood.tv/tag/bin-rajab

and full press coverage (so far) at:
http://mahmood.tv/bin-rajab-vs-al-yousif-libel-case/

A higher resolution image of the attached document (for publication) is available at:
http://mahmood.tv/pages/courtcase_binrajab_vs_alyousif_pp.jpg

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King’s Freedom of Expression Vow Ignored

Journalist Ja’afar Al-Jamri of Al-Wasat being sued for libel

No sooner than our king vowing to protect the freedoms of expression in Bahrain, than we get yet another journalist dragged in for questioning by the public prosecutor!

The honour this time goes to Ja’afer Al-Jamri of Al-Wasat with a complaint brought against him by a government ex-employee for libel even though it has been proven that the complainant was in the wrong! This of course gives rise to various questions, chief amongst them is why does the public prosecution bother with these cases? Wouldn’t it have been better for them to throw the complaint out and save themselves some time?

Not so, it seems, and I agree with Radhi Al-Mousawi’s conclusions in this regard: this continuous hauling of opinion writers and journalists to the public prosecutor is the first line of “warning” these people to toe the line, especially when it is tied with criticism against the government, one of its employees or any other person society deems as “influential”.

This method is quite effective actually and I can tell you this from first hand experience. Not that I have stopped criticising (constructively still, mind you) but this method has been successful in varying degrees in silencing opinion writers who do not wish to spend some time being questioned, nor have their jobs and livelihood put in jeopardy. I have absolutely no problem with those who chose to take heed of these warnings and I completely understand why they did so. What I do have a problem with is that it looks like the government still regards criticism as “disrespect” – probably in a tribal mentality – rather than a freely provided consultancy to better its ways!

His majesty understands this point fully, I feel, which is exactly why he made his vow only a couple of days ago that he fully supports the God-given freedom of expression. So it just remains now to translate his vision and inculcate it fully in written laws which should be coded in a way to protect those freedoms as his majesty understands and wishes.

One thing that would speed that process up is to instruct parliament to finish discussing Law 47/2002’s Press & Publications Law amendments – which magically supplanted Ebrahim Bashmi’s much better proposal – the parliament started discussing in its last term and has not touched in the almost inaugural 100 days of its convening.

Ja’afar, my friend, I am with you all the way. I do not see how you committed a wrong. On the contrary, all you’ve done is provide free consultancy for which you should have been thanked!

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Sad day for freedom of expression

This is a very sad day for the freedom of expression in the Middle East:

Egyptian Blogger Sentenced to Prison

ALEXANDRIA, Egypt — An Egyptian blogger was convicted of insulting Islam and President Hosni Mubarak and sentenced to four years in prison on Thursday in Egypt’s first prosecution of a blogger.

Abdel Kareem Nabil, a 22-year-old former student at Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, an Islamic institution, had pleaded innocent to all charges, and human rights groups had called for his release.

The judge issued the verdict in a brief, five-minute session in a court in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria. He sentenced Nabil to three years in prison for insulting Islam and inciting sedition and another year for insulting Mubarak. Nabil had faced a possible maximum sentence of up to nine years in prison.
Washingtom Post :: 22 Feb, ’07

And if Egypt leads, the Arab world are supposed to follow, right? So the arrest, detention and jailing of people for simply writing their thoughts is forging ahead unchecked in the Middle East… and there doesn’t seem to be any will whatsoever for anyone to stop it, even for a moment, to think of what that is going to do for this and future generations.

Yet another reason for one to maintain their anonymity at all times.

Big brother is not just watching, but is waiting to pounce at the slightest chance to silence critics in the full sight of the world and even they are not interested in doing anything about the situation.

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