…from beneath the crooked bough, witness 230 years of brutal tyranny by the al Khalifas come to an end
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Posts from — July 2011

Free Jaleela Al Salman – recently visited in prison, Jaleela asked “have I been forgotten?”, it’s not unusal for the detained and oppressed to feel forgotten and abandoned

Free Jaleela Al Salman
Sign Petition
Published by Ahmad on Jul 24, 2011

On 29th March 2011 2.30 am group of 40 masked men stormed house of Mrs Jaleela Al Salman, deputy president of Bahrain teachers society, a mother of 3 arresting her at gun point in front of her kids breaking all doors in their way, her kids rooms was stormed as well, kids still suffering from this & scared and cry at night as they recall masked men stormed in their rooms holding, quote “big weapons” for her alleged role in coordinating a teachers strike in Bahrain, for 2 months none heard anything about her whereabouts, or what were her charges.

Now it’s known regime of Bahrain is accusing her for so many fake charges in revenge, for her doing her work defending teachers & students right. It’s known that she had been exposed to numerous acts of ill-treatment & torture. …more

July 31, 2011   No Comments

Obama said “You can’t have a real dialogue when parts of the peaceful opposition are in jail. …we were whooping, literally jumping off the sofa when he said that… but then no action. ….the Americans endorsed the phony dialogue anyway, even though our leaders are still in jail.”

If You’re a Pro-Democracy Activist, Make Sure It’s in the Right Country
Posted: 7/31/11 07:22 PM ET
by: Brian Dooley – Director, Human Rights Defenders program, Human Rights First

Shooting at unarmed protestors isn’t what U.S. government money is supposed to support, and so this week the U.S. announced it was freezing $350 million in aid to Malawi because of its violent crackdown on peaceful dissent.

Senior American official Sheila Herrling said they were “deeply disturbed” about how protests had been suppressed by the Malawian police. The UK government also suspended aid. Too right, and good for the British and Americans for standing up for human rights.

Now, a word about Bahrain. There too the police have been shooting at unarmed protestors and even at random civilians in the street (I know — they shot at me on July 7). The U.S. and U.K. governments know all about these shootings, about the seizure and torture of hundreds of people since pro-democracy demonstrations began in February, about at least four deaths in custody, about the targeting of ambulances and medical personnel, about mass sackings of workers and mass expulsions of students. But their response has been very different.

Writing in the current edition of the Bahrain British Business Forum, UK Ambassador Jamie Bowden says, “It was a great relief to all of us when the [Bahraini] government was able to re-establish order on the streets in March.” Probably a bit less of a relief to those hundreds of families whose loved ones were one of the hundreds tortured or dozens killed in the name of re-establishing order.

The U.S., meanwhile, has been busy supporting Bahrain’s discredited ‘National Dialogue,’ set up by the Bahraini king to give the veneer of talking to the opposition. President Obama called it “an important moment of promise for the people of Bahrain. The United States commends King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa for his leadership in initiating the dialogue.” Which confused many Bahrainis I spoke to because only six weeks earlier he told the Bahraini government in a speech on the Middle East, “You can’t have a real dialogue when parts of the peaceful opposition are in jail.”

A middle-aged Bahraini man told me, “Our family was watching Obama’s speech on TV and we were whooping — literally jumping off the sofa when he said that… but then no action. The Americans endorsed the phony dialogue anyway, even though our leaders are still in jail.” …more

July 31, 2011   No Comments

House of Saud expands it’s Fascists and Tyrants Club to suppress MENA demands for human rights and democracy

GCC to Include Monarchs Beyond Gulf?
By Stephen May 11, 2011 – POMED

On Tuesday, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) welcomed membership bids from Jordan and Morocco, apparently unfazed by the fact that neither is on the Persian Gulf. This appears to be an effort to undermine the already-weak Arab League – apparently the Gulf monarchies are uncomfortable with the possibility that the Arab League may soon include a moderately democratic government or two, so they’re looking to expand the GCC beyond the Gulf into a club exclusively for repressive monarchs across the entire Arab world.

This is seen largely as an effort by the Gulf states to bolster other monarchies in the region economically. As an Egyptian friend commented to me, “The Saudis may as well create a dictatorship support fund.” This is only the latest sign that the Saudi-led GCC states aren’t content to merely deny the democratic aspirations of their own citizens, but they are determined to help other dictators across the Arab world do the same. …source

July 31, 2011   No Comments

The Assassination of Hassan AlEskafi – 27 July, 2011 – Investigations and National Dialogue Mock Protesters as gassing, murder and detentions run rampant

The slaughter continues as ‘Independent’ Investigators and Panels gather intelligence for al Khalifa’s thugs and entertain demands for action on human rights from the West.

July 31, 2011   No Comments

Bahrain: Protesters Stand in Solidarity with Female Detainees

Bahrain: Protesters Stand in Solidarity with Female Detainees
By Sarah July 31, 2011

On Saturday, Bahraini protesters stood in solidarity with the female detainees despite the attacks from security forces. Protester Hassan AlEskafi was shot in the head during the protests. AlEskafi was taken to a clinic set up by Doctors without Borders however, security forces stormed the clinic and arrested the man running the clinic, Saeed Ayyad, and also took AlEskafi’s body.

On Friday, the biggest demonstration since March was held where protesters chanted, “the people are the source of authority.” Security forces took protesters by putting sacks on their head, “Guantanamo style” and severely beating the detainees.

Additionally, students, like Abdullhadi Nabeel Diwani who had just arrived from his studies in the UAE, were arrested as security forces continue to target students.

Bahraini security forces recruited Pakistani mercenaries to aid in the crackdown against protesters. …source

July 31, 2011   No Comments

27 July, 2011, Mr.Hassan Aleskafi, protester, taken to Médecins Sans Frontières

Bahrain: The Targeting of Employee and Office of Doctors Without Borders” Médecins Sans Frontières”
July 29th, 2011

The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) expresses its concern regarding the targeting of a local employee and the office of Doctors Without Borders’ ” Médecins Sans Frontières”

On the 27th of July 2011,Mr.Hassan Aleskafi, a protester, was transferred to the office of Doctors Without Borders ” Médecins Sans Frontières” with an injury to the head due to being attacked by Riot Police with a canister (possibly teargas)while participating in a peaceful protest. Doctors Without Borders called the ambulance due to the severity of the injury, and he was transferred to the hospital.

On the 28th of July 2011,Security forces stormed the office of Doctors Without Borders, confiscated medicines, surrounded the building and arrested local staff member “Mr.Saeed Ayad“.

On the 29th of July 2011,The local employee, from Doctors Without Borders, was charged with: opening of an unlicensed clinic, aiding an injured defendant escape,false reporting of an incident. …source

July 31, 2011   No Comments

‘Bahrain probe does not follow protocol’ – Zainab al-Khawaja

‘Bahrain probe does not follow protocol’

Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa’s probe on the Saudi-backed regime’s crackdown of protesters may not be effective because it doesn’t follow usual protocol, says an activist.

In an exclusive interview with Press TV, Zainab al-Khawaja, Bahraini activist, tells us that the probe is not effective because “usually what happens is that the governments stop the violations, show regrets about the violations that have happened, and they bring a commission to investigate.”

“What’s happening in Bahrain is actually not like that – it’s very strange – at the same time that they created the commission to investigate the violations that happened in February and March, the same time the violations have happened,” al-Khawaja said.
“That makes a big question mark in the minds of Bahrainis as to how independent they really are, how far they can go speaking about the violations that have happened, and who is responsible for those violations,” she added.

The panel, which consists of a team of six non-Bahraini investigators, will examine the controversial role of security forces during popular demonstrations that have rocked Bahrain in recent months, along with investigations into allegations that opposition activists and protesters have been tortured by the Saudi-backed regime’s forces.

The anti-government protesters have been rallying in Bahrain since mid-February, demanding an end to the Al Khalifa dynasty, which has ruled the Persian Gulf Island for over 40 years. …source

July 30, 2011   No Comments

No solution in sight for Bahrain absent genuine National Dialogue and with opposition leadership in prisons

‘No solution in sight for Bahrain’
Interview with Nabeel Rajab, head of Bahrain Centre for Human Rights
Fri Jul 29, 2011 6:29AM GMT

Bahrain’s opposition figures have voiced frustration at the “National Consensus Dialog” with the government after the Middle Eastern country’s largest opposition party, al-Wefaq, left the negotiations.

In an interview with Press TV, Nabeel Rajab, head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, shared his insights on the latest developments in the Persian Gulf kingdom.

The following is a rush transcript of the interview:

Press TV Bahraini ruler, King Hamad [bin Isa Al Khalifa], talked about the success of his reforms in his new speech. Do you have any idea what reforms he is talking about?

Rajab Well, anyone who has witnessed and monitored the situation in Bahrain will realize Bahrain is in a political crisis. There is no such a reform and there is no such a dialogue.

As you know, the dialogue has failed from the day it started because the government, instead of having a dialogue with people they have differences with, they brought groups and organizations and political Islamist groups that was created by the royal court and by the government and intelligence and security institutions – to look like it is a dialogue between the people of Bahrain and with the Bahraini government. But it is not at all.

We think the dialogue should have been with the people who are inside the prisons now. We think that people should be represented in a fair manner. We know that the actual problem in Bahrain is between the people of Bahrain and between the ruling family or the royal elite who are ruling the country, in terms of the rights and elected government or wealth or distribution of power, distribution of wealth. A dialogue [in which] the government is represented or the ruling family is presented, you cannot call it a dialogue.

Here the only decision maker in the country is the ruling family, is the king and the prime minister and the crown prince and not the government at all. Government is only something like very close to puppet [following] the ruler’s decision. So in this dialogue, the government was represented, the ruling family was represented – the representatives of people were not there.

So that is why it has gone to nowhere and in the same way we started, we end this dialogue. We have still hundreds of people behind bars and in prisons: leaders of opposition, human rights defenders, doctors and bloggers and all. We still have more and more people who are fired from work.

On the one side, the government tries to show that they are heading towards reconciliation by forming a commission to do an investigation and inquiry into human rights crisis. On the other side, we see more villages being raided, more people being fired. Today [July 28] the flat of the Doctors without Borders **were raided. Things were taken from there by the security institutions and intelligence institutions. We do not know what happened for the staff of the Doctors without Borders. At least one of them was arrested so far. So the repression, violation, crimes against humanity is continuing on a daily basis. People are being targeted in their life, in their jobs. More teachers, more doctors have been fired today, yesterday, the day before yesterday. The crisis is getting deeper and deeper.

The government yet has no a real political willingness to solve their [Bahraini people's] problem because they [Manama regime] are backed by the Saudis and they see that the Saudis are backing the government, once they see that the Saudis could fill up the financial gap that has been caused by the crisis, then they think they could continue with their repression. …more

July 30, 2011   No Comments

US distances it’s self from inspired “Arab Spring”, blow-back stews as Obama’s inspirational words of hope return with a scourge for Bahrain

‘Bahrain regime – lose-lose situation’
Interview Syed Ali Wasif, Professor of International Law and Politics. PressTV

There were expectations that the Bahraini regime would make changes, some concessions, and try to work with the opposition. Are those expectations being met?

Press TV interviews Syed Ali Wasif, Professor of International Law and Politics, about the revolution in Bahrain and the Saudi role in the regime clampdown on the people of Bahrain.

Press TV What about this, Mr. Wasif our guest said he would have thought that the regime would have tried to make some changes. Why didn’t the regime try to work at all with the opposition? Did they think that by not working together, that the opposition was basically going to go away? How do you see the line that Bahraini government has taken in all of this?

Wasif Simply bad intentions, the government of Bahrain is not sincere with its people, with the opposition, and with the international community. The only thing that the government of Bahrain did, in the name of reform, was a sham reform, and to let out the pressure from within, and from outside.

It was the international pressure from international human rights groups, international human rights organizations, from the international community, so that is why they allowed some kind of demonstrations today, and earlier.

They release couple of prisoners, but still how could you have reforms, or meaningful dialogue, without the presence of the leadership of mainly al-Wafaq and other opposition groups?

Secondly in the presence of the military intervention of the Saudi occupying forces. And thirdly without giving a huge share of political space to the opposition, in Bahrain, so I think that is totally sham.

And the Bahraini government seems to be buying some more time in order to ease some tensions, in order to ease the pressure it has been going through for a while.

Press TV Let me jump in here, you said ; they are trying to buy some more time, buying more time to accomplish what with this type of tactic that is being used?

Wasif Buying time to accomplish – to crush the opposition, to appease the American government, and the White House Administration, to appease the international organizations, especially human rights organizations, and that is how they are doing it.

The problem is, they basically are under the pressure from the US Congress and the US different departments. I am asking the US departments and the US Congress that if they allowed the Polish Catholic clerical intervention in the movement for democracy in Poland, and in Nicaragua, why are they wary of the involvements of the Bahraini clerics in this movement? It has nothing to do with a negative aspect there.

So if they could allow Catholic clergy to participate in politics in the Philippines, in Nicaragua, in Poland, then why are the Americans wary about the participation, and involvement of the clerics in Bahrain? So that is why I think the Bahraini government is taking advantage of, and trying to buy more time for that.

Press TV What about that – that Washington is basically reassessing their priorities, not only in Bahrain, but it appears that in countries where the Arab revolutions are in progress, now the protestors more and more are chanting anti US slogans, and demanding Washington to stop interfering in their affairs. However, it was not the case at the beginning of any of these revolutions. Why do you think that is the case right now?

Wasif Paranoia, the specific mind set of the White House administration, which sees different events in different parts of the Middle East, with a specific goggle, with a specific perspective, that is the perspective of supporting despotic dictatorial and brutal regimes in that region.

So this is the main focus of those sitting in the White House, and the aides to the White House – to the President of the US.

Press TV What about the people themselves I am talking about, at the beginning of these revolutions, even we saw in Egypt, we see in Yemen, and Libya, and Bahrain.

That at the beginning the people really did not start off with anti-American slogans, but more and more in all these movements, we are starting to hear more and more anti-American slogans. Why do you think that is the case?

Wasif Simply, every now and then I meet with the so called “specialist on the Middle East” here, in the Washington D. C. area. They don’t know the language of the region, they have never been to that region, they do not know the political dynamics of that region, and still they are recognize as an expert in the Middle Eastern affairs.

So is the case with Obama aides, and different administration people there in the Obama Administration and the White House as well. This is the problem, they cannot conceive a Middle East without the support of a dictator.

And that is why in the short run they are doing okay, but in the long run, it’s a total loss-loss, situation, to the US foreign policy and to the US national interests in that region.

July 30, 2011   No Comments

The slaughter continues as ‘Independent’ Investigators and Panels gather intelligence for al Khalifa’s thugs and entertain demands for action on human rights from the West

July 29, 2011   No Comments

Free Sheikh Mohammed Ali AlMahfoodh

July 29, 2011   No Comments

You are not forgotten or forsaken

July 29, 2011   No Comments

Thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets outside Bahrain’s capital

Bahrain marchers not content with reform proposals

Thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets outside Bahrain’s capital to call for greater democratic freedoms despite government plans to introduce some political reforms.

The Associated Press

Thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets outside Bahrain’s capital to call for greater democratic freedoms despite government plans to introduce some political reforms.

Friday’s march came a day after Bahrain’s king accepted a list of proposed reforms that include strengthening the power of parliament’s lower house, the country’s only elected body.

The proposals were put forward by a government-sanctioned national dialogue committee. However, its mandate was undercut when the country’s largest Shiite party, Al Wefaq, walked out of the talks, arguing that the government wasn’t committed to real change and dialogue.

Marchers Friday called for a freely elected government and chanted slogans urging the downfall of the monarchy. …source

July 29, 2011   No Comments

“We are staying”, that would be al Khalifa’s going – the days of kings and tyrants are passing

Protesters reject Bahrain dialogue results
Last Modified: 29 Jul 2011 20:57

Protesters dismissed the results of the national dialogue, with some saying: ”We are Staying” [Reuters]

Tens of thousands have marched outside Bahrain’s capital Manama, protesting against the results of a national dialogue they say has failed to bring real democratic reform in the Gulf island kingdom.

Shouting “We want freedom” and waving Bahraini flags and banners that read “No to dialogue”, protesters marched along Budaiya highway on Friday as helicopters from the security forces buzzed overhead.

Some began to shout “Down, down, Hamad” in the Friday march, which organisers entitled “The people are the source of authority”.

King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa on Thursday approved parliamentary reforms submitted by a state-appointed body dialogue commission.

The process “reflects the determination [of the participants] to rise above the latest incidents,” King Hamad said in a televised speech on Thursday.

“We have ordered the executive and legislative authorities to take the necessary measures to approve the agreements,” he said after receiving a report by the state-appointed National Dialogue, set up to address grievances after the government crackdown.

The changes grant more powers of scrutiny to the elected lower house of parliament but preserve the dominance of the upper house appointed by the royal elite.

Bahrain’s Sunni rulers launched the formal dialogue in July, aiming to quell international criticism of its crushing of mass pro-democracy protests led by the Shia majority in February and March.

Widespread disapproval

Opposition groups and many in the Shia population argued their voice in the dialogue was overshadowed by a majority of pro-government participants. The government said it had selected representation that accurately reflected society.

Wefaq, the largest Shia opposition group, walked out of the dialogue several weeks ago and now members said they felt their actions were justified after the body’s results were announced.

“The government thought the results were great. We thought they were nothing,” Sayed al-Mousawi, a Wefaq leader, said. “There’s no fully elected government, no reforms to the voting system. It’s a one-sided deal.”

Shia Bahrainis have long complained of discrimination in jobs and services and accuse the government of gerrymandering electoral districts, charges the government denies.

Khalil al-Marzouq, a Wefaq spokesman, said the final proposals vindicated his group’s decision to boycott.

“The reason we pulled out is because of this. The upper house should only be there for consultation,” he said.

The lower house of parliament currently holds limited authority since all the country’s decisions, including the appointment of government ministers, ultimately rest with the king.

Other proposed reforms are aimed at addressing “the need for fairer electoral constituencies”, though the recommendations stopped short of specifically calling for the realigning of electoral districts that members of the opposition say are unfairly drawn.
Click for more of Al Jazeera’s coverage on Bahrain

According to the new proposal, the prime minister, appointed by the king, would have to secure the approval of parliament for members of his government.

“If MPs disapprove they can vote to reject the entire government. Parliament will also have the power to reject the government’s four-year work plan,” it said.

“These reforms guarantee that the government’s composition and work plan will reflect the will of the people.”

It also said cabinet ministers would have to attend some parliament sessions and face questioning in the open chamber rather than within the framework of committees.

Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman, the prime minister of 40 years, is regarded as a leading figure within the ruling family, who opposes concessions to the opposition.

Bahrain’s Sunni Muslim rulers called in troops from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states in March to help quell protests dominated by the majority Shia community. …more

July 29, 2011   No Comments

A credible Investigator does not a credible Investigation make

[cb Editor Note: A credible Investigator does not a credible Investigation make - legitimate recommendation does not justice bring or remove the corruption of State violence. Another spectacle, controlled by a government that negates it own credibility through daily violence against the governed can only be seen as a tactic of delay and a misdirection of justice.

Any investigation bound to events of couple of months puts those events out of context and is blind to brutality and injustice across time that has set the rebellion ablaze. Cherif Bassiouni or anyone who would shun the depth and significance of events to be analyzed because they pale in comparison to the intensity of their personal experience risks being a jurist of relativistic justice and are conducting an exercise in self flattery.

Finally, the al Khalifa regime has time and again demonstrated it's capacity for inflicting horrendous acts against it's governed. The construct of investigation easily becomes a front for identification and consolidation of the opposition, those that would be enemies of al Khalifa's rule. The sham military courts only serve to demonstrate a tyrant that knows no bounds in making a charade of justice.

It is without a doubt that anyone who would throw in with a program from a regime, one who so deviously uses their power to negate human rights, is either totally naive, deceived or complicit. No credible friend or defender of justice with an interest in the defense of human rights would ever allow the remote possibility of the taint of one as repugnant to human rights as the reign of the al Khalifa regime in Bahrain. ]


Selected Article
Bahrain Sets Up Panel To Investigate Unrest
by Kelly McEvers – NPR

Bahrain Sets Up Panel To Investigate Unrest

Bahrain’s government has appointed Cherif Bassiouni to lead an inquiry into events surrounding the protests in February and March, and the crackdown that ensued.

The government of Bahrain has invited a renowned international legal scholar to investigate what went on during mass protests in February and March, and the brutal crackdown on the largely Shiite opposition that ensued. More than 30 people died, hundreds were detained and beaten, and thousands were fired from their jobs.

The commission is headed by Cherif Bassiouni, an Egyptian-born legal expert who has investigated war crimes and human rights violations in the Balkans, Rwanda, Afghanistan and, most recently, Libya.

Bassiouni and a team of international investigators are taking testimony from both the government and the opposition. The commission will then issue a report and recommendations to Bahrain’s king.

Bassiouni says unlike the 9/11 Commission, which was made up of former politicians, or a U.N. commission that investigates a country whether the ruler likes it or not, the Bahrain commission is different.

“This is a first of its kind in the world,” he says. “That is, for a government to appoint a commission of inquiry but to select the composition of the committee from international personalities and to give it total independence.”

‘A Structural Issue’

Still, the commission is paid by the government of Bahrain. And Bassiouni’s schedule is carefully managed by former government employees.

Already some Bahrainis say they worry Bassiouni might be too close to the government. In an interview, he seemed underwhelmed by the scale of Bahrain’s crackdown, compared with the ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia, for example.

He recounted one story of a Bahraini opposition figure who was detained.

“He said, ‘They kept repeatedly hitting me, one officer, with the palm of his hand to the back of the head and the back of my neck.’ And I said, ‘Did it leave any marks?’ ‘No.’ ‘Did it cause you any headaches?’ ‘No,’” he says. “You know, I fully recognize that this is demeaning, it’s improper, it’s physical abuse. But this is not like somebody who is engaging in the type of torture that causes severe physical pain.”

Still, Bassiouni says, if members of Bahrain’s security forces are found to have committed torture, he will recommend they be prosecuted. What he says he can’t control is whether these recommendations are heeded or whether those who ordered the torture will ever be known.

He says he hopes the commission will at least serve as a public record — a kind of South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission on paper — that might one day help the disenfranchised Shiite majority of Bahrain reconcile with the country’s Sunni leadership.

At a press conference in Bahrain’s capital, Manama, Khalil al-Marzooq, a leader of the country’s main Shiite opposition group, said by focusing on individual cases of abuse, Bassiouni’s commission won’t get at the larger problems.

“It means more than somebody fired you. It means more than a policeman beat you in the street. It’s more than a policeman tortured you in custody,” he says. “It’s a structural issue.

A structural issue, Marzooq says, that can be fixed only by reforming the political system, not by inviting international legal scholars to clean up Bahrain’s image.

Retaliation Fears

A poem Ayat al-Gormezi read during the protests back in March likens Bahrain’s prime minister to a rat, and says he deserves the same fate as Saddam Hussein, who was hanged.

Gormezi was captured and sent to jail for three and a half months for reading her poems. She says she was beaten so badly she regularly passed out.

Gormezi says she will tell the Bassiouni commission what happened to her, even though she’s afraid the government will try to use it against her someday down the road.

“I do believe it’s my obligation,” she says, “even though I doubt it will do much good.” …source

July 29, 2011   No Comments

Cluster munitions, fruit of the harvest

““What we did was insane and monstrous”, Head of IDF rocket unit, July 2006

Cluster
By Zein El-Amine. Edited by Melissa Tuckey, July 29, 2011

On his last evening
Abu Ali walked home
between the rows of pine
that line his driveway,
settled in the shelter
of his grape arbor, rolled
a cigarette, was served tea
by his wife,
who was preparing
for the expected arrival
of unexpected guests.
He spotted a cluster
above his head
and tugged at it.
The stem snapped,
the concealed cylinder slipped,
its yellow ribbon followed,
fluttered down,
like a ticker tape.
A dull pop was heard.
A flash lit up the arbor –
Abu Ali’s last dispatch
to Marjiyoon’s children.

All throughout that month,
that followed the Summer Rain,
he had gathered
the kids wherever
he found them.
Showed them pictures,
of all the colors
that these things come in –
one next to a cell phone
to give them a sense
of scale. One of a boy,
sitting in a hospital,
seeming to kneel,
seeming to pray.

He held his lectures
under the cover of one tree
or another: under the fig
trees, with their fruit
in red August burst,
or under the sparse shelter
of a fruitless pomegranate.
The people of Marjiyoon
say, that on his last day,
he was seen near the cemetery
sitting in the sprawling shade
of the twisted branches of an olive tree.

…source

July 29, 2011   No Comments

Obama building baseless case for justifying War on Iran – Accuses Iran of “Secret Deal” with al-Qaida, offers no proof

US Accuses Iran of ‘Secret Deal’ With al-Qaida
July 29, 2011 – Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration accused Iran on Thursday of entering into a “secret deal” with an al-Qaida offshoot that provides money and recruits for attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Treasury Department designated six members of the unit as terrorists subject to U.S. sanctions.

The U.S. intelligence community has in the past disagreed about the extent of direct links between the Iranian government and al-Qaida. Thursday’s allegations went further than what most analysts had previously said was a murky relationship with limited cooperation.

David S. Cohen, Treasury’s point man for terrorism and financial intelligence, said Iran entered a “secret deal with al-Qaida allowing it to funnel funds and operatives through its territory.” He didn’t provide any details of that agreement, but said the sanctions seek to disrupt al-Qaida’s work in Iraq and deny the terrorist group’s leadership much-needed support.

Click here to find out more!
“Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world today,” Cohen said in a statement. “We are illuminating yet another aspect of Iran’s unmatched support for terrorism.”

Treasury said the exposure of the clandestine agreement would disrupt al-Qaida operations by shedding light on Iran’s role as a “critical transit point” for money and extremists reaching Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“This network serves as the core pipeline through which al-Qaida moves money, facilitators and operatives from across the Middle East to South Asia,” it said.. …more

July 29, 2011   No Comments

King Hamad’s Crimes Against Humanity

Kept Silent are these Crimes Against Humanity

July 28, 2011   No Comments

Arab Awakening and Western Media: Time for a New Revolutionary Discourse

Arab Awakening and Western Media: Time for a New Revolutionary Discourse
by Ramzy Baroud – July 28, 2011

[article excerpt] – “Western media and think-tanks have long presented a mistaken and divisive understanding of Arab – and other – societies. There is a discrepancy between the actual situation and indicators-driven understanding. Entire Arab societies are deconstructed and reduced into simple data, which is filtered, classified and juggled to fit into precise criteria and clear-cut conclusions. Public opinions and entire policies are then formed or formulated based on these conclusions.

The problem does not lie in academic practices per se, but rather the objective-specific understanding that many in the west have towards the Middle East. Most Washington-based think-tanks – regardless of their political leanings – tend to study distant societies only for the sake of producing definite answers and recommendations. However, providing an all-encompassing depiction of a society like Yemen’s – whose internal dynamics and complexity necessarily differs from any other’s in the region – would be most unhelpful for those eager to design policies and short-term strategies on the go.

Arab revolutions continue to tear down archaic beliefs and misguided understandings, challenging the wild theories around Arab peoples and their supposed wrangling between secularism and Islamism. Despite all of this, the self-seeking objectifying of Arabs continues in western media.

Under the all-inclusive title, “The Arab World: The Awakening”, an article in Economist Magazine (February 17) attempted to describe the upheaval currently underway throughout the Arab world. Interspersed with such predictable terms as ‘extremists’, ‘Islamists’, ‘strongmen’ and so on, the inane analysis made way for equally silly conclusions. The article, for example, suggested that the West’s decision to accommodate dictatorial regimes in the Middle East was motivated by a mix of despair and altruism: “The West has surrendered to this (Arab) despair too, assuming that only the strongmen could hold back the extremists.”

While words such as ‘extremists’, ‘fundamentalists’ and ‘terrorists’ may have their own special ring to western audiences, they could well mean something entirely different – if anything at all – to Arabs. Listening to the Arab media’s coverage of ongoing revolutions, one may not even encounter any of these terminologies. At times, they can be entirely irrelevant in terms of understanding the momentous happenings underway throughout the region.” …main article

July 28, 2011   No Comments

Whole world watching King Hamad’s brutal reign – Bahrain failing to restore country’s reputation with same old misdirect and appease techniques

King of Bahrain failing to restore country’s reputation after uprising
By Richard Spencer, Middle East Correspondent
5:13PM BST 18 Jul 2011

The government’s National Dialogue, its forum for negotiation with opposition groups, lay in tatters yesterday after al-Wefaq, the biggest party in parliament, announced it intended to pull out.

Meanwhile, two of the most prominent figures detained in the crackdown have described to The Daily Telegraph a routine of beatings they suffered while in captivity.

One, Ayat al-Qurmezi, a 20-year-old trainee teacher jailed for a year for reciting poems critical of the king, said she was telephoned on Saturday by police to warn her against repeating her claims.

The other, a senior surgeon at the main Salmaniya Hospital, who has asked not to be identified, said the behaviour of the authorities had alienated the non-political middle classes like himself. He was one of 48 doctors put on trial in the wake of the protests, 20 of whom remain in custody.

He said he was hit round the head, kicked and beaten with a rubber hose until he was forced to confess to inflicting the wounds suffered by protesters he was treating for their injuries, or making them worse. …more

July 28, 2011   No Comments

Widener President Urged to Press for Bahraini Alumna’s Release and all detained political prisoners

Widener President Urged to Press for Bahraini Alumna’s Release
For Immediate Release: July 28, 2011

Chester, Pa. – Human Rights First today urged Widener University President Dr. James T. Harris III to call on the United States and Bahraini governments to free an alumna who remains in captivity following the Bahraini Government’s violent crackdown against pro-democracy activists. Roula al-Saffar, who received a master’s degree from Widener University in the late 1990’s and is now head of the Bahrain Nursing Society, is the only female medic still held in detention since Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa launched a series of brutal measures to silence dissent, including widespread torture and at least four deaths in custody. She has been in captivity for more than 100 days.

A letter sent to President Harris from Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley, who recently returned from a mission Bahrain that included a meeting with al-Saffar’s family, notes, “We are asking you to contact the Bahraini Government (there is an embassy in Washington, DC) to ask for her immediate release, and to urge them to release all detainees who are still being held for exercising their legitimate right to freedom of expression during protests earlier this year. We also urge you to contact the U.S. Government to ask that it intercede with the Bahraini authorities to ask that she be released and charges against her dropped, or that she be given a trial which meets international standards.”

Earlier this month, Human Rights First issued “Bahrain: A Tortuous Process,” a report based on research conducted by Dooley during his second fact-finding mission to Bahrain from July 6 -12. In May, the organization issued “Bahrain: Speaking Softly,” a report capturing the findings of Dooley’s May 2011 trip to the region, his first since the Bahraini Government’s violent anti-democracy crackdown began. Both reports contain a series of recommendations for the U.S. Government and its officials, as well as for the Bahraini leadership. …source

July 28, 2011   No Comments

Nabeel Rajab Awarded the 2011 Ion Ratiu Democracy Award by the Washington based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Bahrain/Washington: Nabeel Rajab Awarded the 2011 Ion Ratiu Democracy Award
by the Washington based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Published on frontlinedefenders.org
28 July 2011

Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights has been awarded the Ion Ratiu Democracy Award by the Washington based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Further Information

The History and Public Policy Program of the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars is pleased to announce that the 2011 Ion Ratiu Democracy Award will go to Nabeel Rajab, co-founder of the Bahrain Human Rights Society and president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights because he “has worked tirelessly and at considerable personal peril to advance the cause of democratic freedoms and the civil rights of Bahraini citizens”.

The purpose of the Ion Ratiu Democracy Award is to bring visibility and international recognition to the ideas and accomplishments of individuals around the world who are working on behalf of democracy.

The award strives to enrich the intellectual environment in which ideas about democracy and democratic change circulate, both within and beyond Washington. Sponsored in cooperation With the Ratiu Family Charitable Foundation (London, UK) and the Ratiu Center for Democracy (Turda, Romania), the award expresses the deep commitment to democracy ofthe late Ion Ratiu through his contributions as a Romanian politician and.intellectual as well as his interest in democratic change worldwide.

The Ion Ratiu Democracy Award was established in 2005 as a way to recognize the importance of the work carried out by democracy activists around the world. Since 2006, the Award ceremony is hosted at the Woodrow Wilson Center. Previous awardees include Oleg Kozlovsky (Russia, 2010), Adam Michnik (Poland, 2009), Eleonora Cercavschi (Moldova, 2008), Anatoli Mikhailov (Belarus, 2007), Saad Ibrahim (Egypt, 2006), and Sergio Aguayo (Mexico, 2005). …more

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Citizens, Not Subjects: Debunking the Sectarian Narrative of Bahrain’s Pro-Democracy Movement

Citizens, Not Subjects: Debunking the Sectarian Narrative of Bahrain’s Pro-Democracy Movement
Author : Sahar Aziz – Date : July 06, 2011
Download the Full Report (PDF)

Strikingly absent from the discourse about Bahrain’s ongoing pro-democracy movement are the non-sectarian grounds upon which the calls for democracy are based. A closer look at the recent demonstrations indicates that the movement’s impetus is the Bahrainis’ desire for universal social, economic, and political rights irrespective of religious sect.

A growing sense of political disenfranchisement is spreading among both Sunni and Shi’a citizens who have been excluded from political and business opportunities.

Upon witnessing the remarkable display of people power in Egypt and Tunisia, Bahrainis are no longer satisfied with being treated as subjects; rather, they are demanding to be treated as citizens with twenty-first-century political, social, and economic rights and the power to shape their nation’s destiny.

Based on the foregoing analysis, this report recommends steps that would both promote democracy in Bahrain and preserve American interests in the Gulf and the wider Middle East. …source

July 28, 2011   No Comments

Surprise! King Hamad supports reforms from his own “dialogue”

Bahrain king ‘supports’ political reforms
(AFP) – 3 hours ago

DUBAI — Bahrain’s king said he supports proposals for political reform submitted to him on Thursday following a “national dialogue” from which the main Shiite opposition withdrew just two weeks after it began.

The report on the dialogue “reflects the determination (of the participants) to rise above the latest incidents,” King Hamad said in a televised speech, referring to a month of deadly pro-democracy protests crushed by the authorities in March.

The king expressed his “support” for the recommendations that, he said, notably included “reinforcing the independence of the judicial branch and the consolidation of human rights” in Bahrain.

He also cited the development of standards for the selection of the Majlis Ash-Shura, or consultative council, whose 40 appointed members can block legislation coming out of the lower house.

King Hamad said he had given instructions for the implementation of the recommendations in “constitutional institutions” but made no reference of the withdrawal of the main Shiite opposition party, Al-Wefaq, from the dialogue.

Al-Wefaq, or the Islamic National Accord Association, announced on July 17 it was pulling out of the dialogue on reforms, saying the talks were not aimed at achieving serious results.

The talks follow a bloody March crackdown by security forces on Shiite-led protests calling for reforms in the Sunni-ruled, Shiite-majority kingdom. Authorities say 24 people were killed in the unrest. …source

July 28, 2011   No Comments

Bahrain dialogue to bring reform, release of prisoners and justice to a people wronged or a revolution?

Popular Protest in North Africa and the Middle East (VIII): Bahrain’s Rocky Road to Reform
Middle East Report N°111 28 Jul 2011

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Following a spasm of violence, Bahrain faces a critical choice between endemic instability and slow but steady progress toward political reform. The most sensible way forward is to launch a new, genuine dialogue in which the political opposition is fairly represented and to move toward changes that will turn the country into a constitutional monarchy. In order to create an environment in which such talks could succeed, the regime should take immediate steps to address the human rights crisis, including by releasing political leaders jailed for peacefully expressing their views, and reverse the alarming sectarian polarisation that has occurred.

In February and March 2011, Bahrain experienced peaceful mass protests followed by brutal repression, leaving a distressing balance sheet: over 30 dead, mostly demonstrators or bystanders; prominent opposition leaders sentenced to lengthy jail terms, including eight for life; hundreds of others languishing in prison; torture, and at least four deaths in detentions; trials, including of medical professionals, in special security courts lacking even the semblance of due process of law; over 40 Shiite mosques and other religious structures damaged or demolished; the country’s major independent newspaper transformed into a regime mouthpiece; a witch hunt against erstwhile protesters who faced dismissal or worse, based on “loyalty” oaths; serious damage to the country’s economy; a parliament left without its opposition; and much more. More significant for the long term perhaps, the violence further polarised a society already divided along sectarian lines and left hopes for political reform in tatters, raising serious questions about the island’s stability.

The regime – a Sunni monarchy headed by the Al Khalifa family – gave a pseudo-legal cast to the repression it unleashed by issuing a “law of national safety”, emergency legislation that permitted some of the human rights violations listed above. And it enveloped itself in the protective embrace of its neighbours, fellow members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), avowedly to ward off a victory by the perceived proxies of Iran, its own Shiite population.

As the crisis escalated in the second half of February and first half of March, two parallel battles unfolded within the opposing camps: a reformist crown prince wagered his political future on reaching out to a pragmatic segment of the (mostly Shiite) opposition, angering more hard-line regime elements, including the septuagenarian uncle of the king, who is the world’s longest-sitting unelected prime minister. In turn, the largest licensed opposition society, Al-Wifaq, risked alienating its popular base, including many of the protesters gathered at the central Pearl roundabout in Manama, by agreeing to engage in informal, semi-secret talks with the crown prince.

While mostly calling for political reform leading to a constitutional monarchy in the uprising’s early days, protesters steadily began to embrace the more radical demand for the regime’s replacement with a democratic republic, and they began to radiate throughout the capital to bolster this demand. Feeling threatened, the regime lashed back. This spelled the end of talk about dialogue and reform and weakened dialogue’s main protagonists. Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad appears marginalised within the royal family, at least for the time being; Al-Wifaq is struggling to hold onto its popular base, as it seeks to keep reform prospects alive while opposition leaders remain in jail and repression continues. …more

July 28, 2011   No Comments