…from beneath the crooked bough, witness 230 years of brutal tyranny by the al Khalifas come to an end
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Reform in Bahrain: US Public Relations Liberal Ass Kissing Frenzy, Buy GOP Congressional Favor, Kill and Imprison Children

Bahrain Shuts the Door on Reform
By Catherine Cheney – 21 August, 2012 – Trend Lines

Nabeel Rajab, a prominent opposition activist who founded the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, was sentenced to three years in jail last week for his participation in protests.

The protests, led mostly by members of the Shiite Muslim majority who are calling for democracy, began last year and continued even as the government imposed martial law and responded with what many call excessive use of force.

Explaining that he was disappointed but not surprised to read the news, Toby C. Jones, an associate professor of history at Rutgers University, told Trend Lines the verdict represents the end of any pretense of reforms in this small island kingdom in the Persian Gulf.

“Nabeel Rajab embodies a threat to the regime because he is this powerful voice, this populous figure, who is not sectarian and who uses the language of human rights,” he said. Jones explained that over the past 18 months, Rajab has been particularly resilient despite being beaten and shot at. “It was only a matter of time, given his visibility and his defiance.”

Jane Kinninmont, senior research fellow for Middle East and North Africa at Chatham House, emphasized that this is not an isolated case, with hundreds of lower-profile figures in prison because of their involvement in protests.

“But for months it had appeared Rajab was relatively protected because of his high international profile with human rights organizations,” she said, adding that his imprisonment sends “a signal that the government is taking a harder line on protests.”

Looking at the opposition more broadly, Kinninmont described internal disagreement over the extent of change they seek, with the largest political group, Al Wefaq, “pragmatically calling for a constitutional monarch” and the “more revolutionary Feb. 14 youth movement” seeking a republic.

Asked what change there has been since the initial demonstrations in February and March of last year, Jones said few of the opposition’s demands have been met.

He mentioned the Bassiouni Commission, which was tasked with investigating the unrest, as a window of opportunity for reforms, but said little action was taken after the commission issued its report late last year.

“A number of important human rights reforms have been announced, but implementation remains a problem and the impact isn’t being felt on the street,” Kinninmont said. “There has been progress in some areas . . . but there has been very little done to address the accountability issue.”

One problem, she said, is that many senior officials “still seem to deny the report’s findings.”

Jones said “reform” is a word the Bahraini government, led by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, uses to accommodate and appease its Western supporters who “continue to claim Bahrain is on the path to reform.” …more

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