…from beneath the crooked bough, witness 230 years of brutal tyranny by the al Khalifas come to an end
Random header image... Refresh for more!

An Interview with Nabeel Rajab “We Will Continue Our Uprising”

Bahrain Feature: Interview with Nabeel Rajab “We Will Continue Our Uprising”
EA World View – Josh Shahryar – 16 August, 2012

Editor’s Note: In January, EA’s Josh Shahryar spoke twice with Nabeel Rajab, the activist heading the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. The first discussion occurred just after police had attacked a march in the capital Manama, with Rajab at the front, and had allegedly beaten the human rights activist.

The second interview followed more marches, more clashes, and more deaths from tear gas and possibly from police abuse. Regime supporters claimed that Rajab and opposition societies such as Al Wefaq suported violence against the security forces, while critics argued that little has changed despite the King’s promise to address the shortcomings identified in November’s report by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry.

This morning, seven months later, Nabeel Rajab was sentenced to three years in prison for participation in illegal marches. In light of this, we post the full text of the second interview

What is the forthcoming strategy for the opposition, given that 1) the regime is not giving way on demands for substantial political reform; 2) marches are often blocked by security forces; and 3) there are claims of a violent minority growing amongst protesters?

I don’t believe violence is a policy of the opposition or that it is systematic. Lately we have seen some isolated cases of violence. We as human rights groups and the opposition in Bahrain disagree with violence and don’t think it could be the means for change for the better. However, we understand the frustration of the people. They are being arrested, tortured and their loved ones are being killed.

The other side [the regime] is offering no solutions. Due to political considerations and economic interests, the international community is ignoring these abuses as well. That is adding to the feeling of frustration. Then we see people getting killed because of tear gas to which the international community replies with more silence. Foreigners come to Bahrain, they demolish mosques, they rob houses, they destroy property. An indigenous opposition in this country exists that is now being crushed by foreign mercenaries.

I am very sad to see violence, I don’t think it will ever be a solution, but [the human rights groups in Bahrain’s] ability to control or to keep masses peaceful is limited because of the pervasive violence against them by the regime. The same is the case with the opposition — they can’t either. The deadlock and the continued oppression by the government is creating this violence and I’m afraid that this violence could increase in the face of oppression and silence by the international community.

Let’s make one thing clear, all is in the hands of the government. All we can do is create pressure locally and internationally. all the tools are in the hands of the government — the army, police and all institutions. The government doesn’t seem to have the willingness to make changes, especially since it is getting support from regimes like Saudi Arabia, who are helping with oppression to either stop or to hijack the revolution.

So we have to put pressure on those governments, social and economic, to take sides with the people who are being oppressed. Locally, we will continue our uprising. We can’t imagine any reason to stop now. We are at a stage where over 50 people have been killed, thousands have been injured, countless have been tortured. Human rights violations have been committed by many people in system including high-ranking members of the royal family, like two sons of the king. With all these huge sacrifices we have paid, I don’t think anyone is thinking of stopping the uprising. We will continue fighting for justice, democracy and freedom. We will try our best to keep it peaceful and maintain calm.

You mentioned Saudi Arabia. What has been the role of Saudi Arabia in the violence against Bahrain?

Saudi Arabia is working parallel to the revolution to cancel it. Across the Middle East, either, it is either giving money to stop revolutions or when they happen it tries to hijack them. And this is happening in places like Egypt. They have wealth to buy institutions and media to influence the outcome of revolutions. That has to be taken into consideration when people are fighting for democracy in this part of the world since Saudi Arabia is powerful in the Gulf and Middle East.

This is one reason why you don’t hear about Bahrain in the international media because most of the media in this part of the world are owned either by Qatar or the Saudis. These countries are ruled by regimes who are friendly with the government in Bahrain. That’s why Al Jazeera Arabic, which was actively covering all the other revolutions [in the Middle East and North Africa], is totally silent about Bahrain. That is why Al Arabiya continues to run material opposing the Syrian regime, but when it comes to Bahrain, they are on the government’s side. This is the case with all media owned by them [the Saudis].

What does King have to do to stay in power?

The truth is that this king had more support from the people than any other king from his family in the past 200 years because of the promises he made. This support even came from human rights organizations. We had hope.

In 2000, He was in the village of Sitra on a visit. People — civilians — lifted his car up with their hands and carried it around the village out of happiness and love. They shouted, “With our blood and life, we would sacrifice for you.” But that was ten years ago. Now 14 people have been killed in that village in the past few months. Now when they protest, they shout, “King Hamad! Step Down”. People have lost confidence in the king.

There should be a radical change for people to regain their trust in him. There should be a radical move that will bring confidence back. It is gonna have to be much more than what he did in 2000 to gain trust and confidence because people have lost trust in him and the regime. First of all, he must release all political prisoners. Then, he must bring the opposition together and ask their demands with them while treating them with dignity and respect and granting. Then, he must apply and implement all the demands they require. A big part of the opposition still isn’t asking for the overthrow of the government. Calls for his departure are not as deep-rooted. They only started when people started to get killed by security forces. His role may be negotiable.

The bottom line is that there should be real changes to satisfy people. The government has failed completely to address the people’s demand. The king’s image has become that of a man who doesn’t keep his word because of the number of promises he made and never fulfilled them. However, the government doesn’t seem to want to give anything. …more

Add facebook comments

There are no comments yet...

Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment