…from beneath the crooked bough, witness 230 years of brutal tyranny by the al Khalifas come to an end
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The Bahrain – Ukraine Duality

The Bahrain – Ukraine Duality
by RANNIE AMIRI – counter punch – 08 March, 2014

When President Obama recently spoke on “… the principle that no country has the right to send in troops to another country unprovoked …” he was of course referring to Russia’s concerns over unrest in Ukraine and its subsequent troop movements into the Crimean Peninsula. No such “principle” was evoked, however, when Saudi Arabia invaded Bahrain in March 2011 in its violent suppression of popular, pro-reform sentiment expressed by the overwhelming majority in the Gulf island nation.

Unlike Ukraine, the peaceful protests in Manama’s Pearl Roundabout did not depose a constitutionally elected government. Obviously, the centuries-old rule of the al-Khalifa family has never been by mandate at the ballot box. Likewise, adherence to the country’s National Action Charter put forward by King Hamad al-Khalifa has been solely to the extent of perpetuating dynastic rule.

Stephen F. Cohen, professor of Russian Studies and History Emeritus at New York University, describes how European and NATO agitation along Russia’s borders led to today’s conflict in Ukraine:

“… even though we always say that Russia and Putin invaded tiny little Georgia, the fact is that the war was begin [sic], by the American-backed military forces of Georgia– because they attacked Russian enclaves in Georgia.”

He elaborates, “And even if we just go back to this November, just a few months ago, when the protesters came into the streets in Ukraine, Putin said to Europe and Washington, why are you forcing Ukraine to choose between Russia and Europe? We’re prepared with Europe to do a kind of mini-Marshall Plan to bail Ukraine out. Let’s do it together. And that was refused by Washington and Brussels. And that refusal led to the situation today.

“… the fundamental issue here is that, three or four years ago, Putin made absolutely clear he had two red lines. You remember Obama’s red lines in Syria. But Putin was serious. One was in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. NATO and NATO influence couldn’t come there. The other was in Ukraine. We crossed both. You got a war in Georgia in 2008, and you have got today in Ukraine because we, the United States and Europe, crossed Putin’s red line. Now, you can debate whether he has a right to that red line, but let’s at least discuss it.”

In contrast, Bahrainis demands for a constitutional monarchy, elected prime minister, independent judiciary and representative parliament did not come at the hands of outside forces or foreign sponsors and by all accounts, are wholly indigenous. The vast majority of people support such reforms; they are not split as are Ukrainians between two competing spheres of power. The canard of Iranian interference in Bahrain’s affairs is nothing more than the tired refrain of Gulf dictatorships preying upon the sectarian and nationalistic fears of its people. Even former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said at the time, “I expressed the view that we had no evidence that suggested that Iran started any of these popular revolutions or demonstrations across the region.” WikiLeaks cables confirm allegations of Iranian interference to be unsubstantiated.

Three years ago, bolstered by the presence of the Saudi military and “Peninsula Shield” forces which made the quick, 16-mile trek across the King Fahd causeway, Bahrain’s security servies—90 percent of whom are non-Bahraini nationals—viciously cleared Pearl Roundabout. Tanks and bulldozers rolled in, riot police shot at the encamped, helicopters hovered overhead and fired at homes, hospitals were blocked and doctors beaten as they tended to the wounded. The capital’s Salmaniya Hospital was besieged and soon became a center of interrogation, torture and resistance.

As of this writing, no violence has been perpetrated by Russian forces in Crimea and no shots have been fired.

In contrast to Obama’s rebuke of Putin, the crackdown in 2011 only elicited a call for “maximum restraint.”

Much has transpired in Bahrain since the Saudi invasion. One only needs to visit the website of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights to see how the show trials, imprisonment of pro-democracy activists, collective punishment and wanton human rights abuses have utterly devastated the society. This overt oppression has been ignored by the United States and its European allies, the same nations that now express outrage at Russia’s incursion into Crimea. …more

March 8, 2014   No Comments

Bahrain Regime uses Violence to Stall Progress on Democracy, move Shia into Minority

February 23, 2014   No Comments

Worked in Ukraine, won’t work in Bahrain because noone overthrowing democracy – WTF?

February 22, 2014   No Comments

Bahrain continues US backed crackdown with systematic arrests of Democracy leaders

Five Bahraini chanters arrested following mass march
22 February, 2014

SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association) – Five Bahrainis have been arrested for leading the gigantic mass prodemocracy march that took place last Saturday afternoon, February 15th. Around 300, 000 Bahrainis participated in the march demanding democratic transition and an end to the current tyrannical rule in Bahrain.

Al Wefaq said the arrests contradicts basic humanitarian principles and reflects the type of doctrine that is controlling the political situation. “Punishing citizens for expressing their opinions is a war on freedom of expression and peaceful political activism”, Al Wefaq added. It also pointed out that these measures reflect the regime’s preference of a security solution over a political one, thereby, further complicating the situation. …more

February 22, 2014   No Comments

US Crushing Democracy in Bahrain, Obama and Partners keep it Silent, Away, from ‘Audience’ in West

bahrain-3-years-on

Bahrain: The silent revolution
14 February, 2014 – Al Jazeera
Muted reaction to Bahrain crackdown on pro-democracy activists is in stark contrast to those regarding Syria and Libya

Bahraini human rights activist Zainab al-Khawaja was due to be out of prison on February 20. She has been serving concurrent sentences since February 2013. However, she was recently sentenced to a further four months on a new charge of “destroying private property”.

As Bahrainis mark the third anniversary of the pro-reform protest movement which came to be known as the 14 February Coalition, human rights violations continue unabated in the country. Some 122 Bahrainis have since died from torture, lung infections caused by tear gas, and from live ammunition used by the Bahraini security forces.

Thus far, 1,300 Bahrainis have been arrested in connection with their role in the protests and those still in detention have been tortured and denied access to medical care. Hospitals have been militarised as doctors and nurses are harassed for treating victims of the protests. Thousands of workers have been dismissed or suspended from their jobs for taking part in the demonstrations.

And while the international community, particularly Western countries, have been quite vocal in condemning atrocities committed against protesters in some countries in the Middle East, when it comes to Bahrain, calls from the West for an end to human rights abuses perpetrated by the Bahraini authorities have been rather muted.

Using the ‘terror’ card

Bahrain is now on the verge of a precipice as citizens’ rights are trampled upon with no recourse to the legal system. The judiciary and police are far from independent and operate with the utmost impunity, leaving citizens who dare condemn atrocities at their mercy. Bahraini authorities ensure that they impose charges against activists and journalists which carry maximum sentences, and which, in the eyes of Bahrain’s allies, portray a country doing its best to ensure that its territorial integrity and internal security are protected from “criminals and trouble makers”.

Inside Story Americas – US double standards in Bahrain

Last year, on September 29, a court in Bahrain sentenced a group of 50 political and civil activists under the country’s terrorism law to jail terms ranging from five to 15 years, for “trying to destabilise the country”, and for alleged links to the “14 February Coalition”. The sentencing of the 50 vividly paints an appalling picture of the state of affairs in Bahrain. …more

February 16, 2014   No Comments

Regime Quakes as Obama’s Greatest Fear Realised – Democracy is Coming to Bahrain

February 15, 2014   No Comments

Former US Ambassador Neumann, Sets tone of US Policy in Bahrain – “Prevent Democracy”

Former US ambassador agonises over ‘stability’
Opposing democracy in Bahrain
by Brian Whitaker – 22 December, 2013

The latest issue of the Middle East Policy Council’s journal contains a lengthy essay on US policy towards Bahrain, basically arguing that reforms in the tiny Gulf kingdom should stop short of full democracy.

Its author, Ronald Neumann, is a former US ambassador to Bahrain and currently president of the American Academy of Diplomacy in Washington, and his essay is a troubling example of the extraordinarily charitable attitude that many in the western diplomatic establishment still display in relation to Gulf autocrats.

Neumann rightly points out that US policy towards Bahrain, in its present form, lacks clarity and is leading nowhere. He also points out that almost everything about the situation in Bahrain “is as contested as it is complicated”.

If the need is for clarity, though, it might be better to dwell less on the complexities (which Neumann does at length) and focus instead on some guiding principles.

One clear and simple principle which would serve as a good starting point is that people everywhere have a right to choose their own government and hold it accountable – and that when they seek to exercise their right it should not be the role of the US, or anyone else, to stand in their way.

In Bahrain’s case, that basic principle has become clouded by other concerns such as America’s perception of its regional interests and a desire for stability. The US is no exception in this – all countries seek to protect their own interests – but when those interests appear to conflict with democracy we need to ask whether they are being interpreted correctly.

Stability and US ‘interests’

The “stability” argument is an old and familiar one that has led the US down the wrong path many times before. Stability sounds comforting and desirable but in the Middle East particularly it is also a codeword for preventing significant change. Autocratic regimes promise their people stability in return for acquiescence – and that is dangerous because in the long run it leads to more instability, not less.

Political systems actually need a degree of instability because that is how change comes about. Reforming early and often, before the system crashes, is the way to keep it healthy and resilient. The alternative – the “artificially constrained systems” beloved of Arab autocrats – may look calm on the surface but as pressure builds up below they are liable to explode.

Regimes that fail to recognise this and refuse to take reform seriously are planting the seeds of future instability, as are the countries that support them.

There’s a similar problem with defining “American interests”. Are we talking short-term or long-term? Policies that seem a good idea in the short term may turn out to be a very bad idea in the long term, especially in the Middle East. The region is in the throes of a political upheaval that will take decades to play out. Somewhere along the way the monarchies of the Gulf will either fall or become marginalised beyond recognition and other countries, including the US, need to start preparing for that. Leave it too late and they risk ending up on the wrong side of history.

A case against democracy

Opposing real democracy in Bahrain may not strike many people as a particularly smart way to prepare for the future, but let’s consider Neumann’s argument.

His starting point is that Shia Muslims form a majority of Bahrain’s population (nobody is quite sure how big a majority they are because the government would rather not find out). Thus, in a one-person-one-vote system, if Bahrainis voted along sectarian lines, the result would be a permanent Shia majority with no alternation of power. Neumann writes:

“When people vote as a community, an elected majority becomes a function of community size. This is very different from a flexible system in which losers in one election believe they have a chance to become winners at another time. If the tyranny of a minority is (rightly) seen as wrong by the majority, absolute control by the majority is equally seen as wrong by the minority.”

That certainly presents some problems (which I’ll come to shortly) but Neumann seems reluctant to acknowledge that this hypothetical tyranny of a Shia majority could scarcely be less accountable than what we have today: the tyranny of a Sunni minority headed by the Khalifa family.

Apart from the king himself, the apparently unsackable prime minister is the king’s uncle. He has been in office for almost 44 years and is the world’s longest-serving prime minister. Four of the five deputy prime ministers are also members of the Khalifa family, as are the ministers of interior, finance, foreign affairs, justice and culture.
…more

December 29, 2013   No Comments

Waiting on Democracy – The tragic bloody rule of the al Khaila Regime and failed US Policy

Former US ambassador agonises over ‘stability’

Opposing democracy in Bahrain
By Brian Whitaker – 22 December, 2013 – Palestinia Pundit

“The latest issue of the Middle East Policy Council’s journal contains a lengthy essay on US policy towards Bahrain, basically arguing that reforms in the tiny Gulf kingdom should stop short of full democracy.
Its author, Ronald Neumann, is a former US ambassador to Bahrain and currently president of the American Academy of Diplomacy in Washington, and his essay is a troubling example of the extraordinarily charitable attitude that many in the western diplomatic establishment still display in relation to Gulf autocrats.
Neumann rightly points out that US policy towards Bahrain, in its present form, lacks clarity and is leading nowhere. He also points out that almost everything about the situation in Bahrain “is as contested as it is complicated”.
If the need is for clarity, though, it might be better to dwell less on the complexities (which Neumann does at length) and focus instead on some guiding principles.
One clear and simple principle which would serve as a good starting point is that people everywhere have a right to choose their own government and hold it accountable – and that when they seek to exercise their right it should not be the role of the US, or anyone else, to stand in their way.
In Bahrain’s case, that basic principle has become clouded by other concerns such as America’s perception of its regional interests and a desire for stability. The US is no exception in this – all countries seek to protect their own interests – but when those interests appear to conflict with democracy we need to ask whether they are being interpreted correctly.
Stability and US ‘interests’
The “stability” argument is an old and familiar one that has led the US down the wrong path many times before. Stability sounds comforting and desirable but in the Middle East particularly it is also a codeword for preventing significant change. Autocratic regimes promise their people stability in return for acquiescence – and that is dangerous because in the long run it leads to more instability, not less.
Political systems actually need a degree of instability because that is how change comes about. Reforming early and often, before the system crashes, is the way to keep it healthy and resilient. The alternative – the “artificially constrained systems” beloved of Arab autocrats – may look calm on the surface but as pressure builds up below they are liable to explode.
Regimes that fail to recognise this and refuse to take reform seriously are planting the seeds of future instability, as are the countries that support them.
There’s a similar problem with defining “American interests”. Are we talking short-term or long-term? Policies that seem a good idea in the short term may turn out to be a very bad idea in the long term, especially in the Middle East. The region is in the throes of a political upheaval that will take decades to play out. Somewhere along the way the monarchies of the Gulf will either fall or become marginalised beyond recognition and other countries, including the US, need to start preparing for that. Leave it too late and they risk ending up on the wrong side of history.
A case against democracy
Opposing real democracy in Bahrain may not strike many people as a particularly smart way to prepare for the future, but let’s consider Neumann’s argument.
His starting point is that Shia Muslims form a majority of Bahrain’s population (nobody is quite sure how big a majority they are because the government would rather not find out). Thus, in a one-person-one-vote system, if Bahrainis voted along sectarian lines, the result would be a permanent Shia majority with no alternation of power. Neumann writes:

“When people vote as a community, an elected majority becomes a function of community size. This is very different from a flexible system in which losers in one election believe they have a chance to become winners at another time. If the tyranny of a minority is (rightly) seen as wrong by the majority, absolute control by the majority is equally seen as wrong by the minority.”

That certainly presents some problems (which I’ll come to shortly) but Neumann seems reluctant to acknowledge that this hypothetical tyranny of a Shia majority could scarcely be less accountable than what we have today: the tyranny of a Sunni minority headed by the Khalifa family. …more

December 23, 2013   No Comments

Dr Cavell: “GCC defense shield is defense against people and against growing cries for democracy”

Hagel tried to ‘placate’ Bahrain regime
14 December, 2013 – PressTV

American author Colin Cavell says the recent visit of US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to Bahrain was an attempt to appease the dictatorial regime of Bahrain.

“The recent visit of US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to Bahrain for the annual Manama dialogue is the US’s attempt to placate the dictatorial regime, the Khalifa regime of Bahrain which is attempting to indicate that it has some sort of intellectual vigor by saying it can contemplate international relations in a manner that is acceptable to other countries,” Cavell told Press TV in a phone interview on Thursday.

“But of course, all the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council states are monarchial dictatorships and the [P]GCC defense shield is mainly a defense against the people, is the defense against growing cries for democracy,” he added.

Hagel traveled to Bahrain last week and became the first US Cabinet member to visit the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom since anti-regime demonstrations started there in February 2011.

Addressing the Manama Dialogue conference in Bahrain over last weekend, Hagel said: “I am under no illusions, like all of you, about the daily threats facing this region, or the current anxieties that I know exist here in the [Persian] Gulf.”

Cavell went on to say that now “with the United States and its recent deal with Iran,” Saudi Arabia and other Arab states in the Persian Gulf region are “very worried that the US may abandon them.”

“And of course, as the people continue to solidify and continue their demonstrations on a daily basis and their opposition to the regime [continues], they will eventually overthrow these corrupt monarchical dictators,” he added.

“The irony of the situation is that the United States claims to be supporting democracy, and yet the real [supporters of] democracy are in the streets of Bahrain,” he pointed out.

Bahrainis have been staging demonstrations since mid-February 2011, calling for political reforms and a constitutional monarchy, a demand that later turned into an outright call for the ouster of the ruling Al Khalifa family following its brutal crackdown on popular protests. …source

December 16, 2013   No Comments

The United State Defending Monarchies Against Democracy and Freedom Everywhere

West defending dictatorships from democracy in Persian Gulf
9 December, 2013 – By Finian Cunningham

In a breathtaking display of absurdity, US secretary of defense Chuck Hagel and Britain’s Foreign Minister William Hague were among senior Western delegates to address the annual conference on “regional security” held in Bahrain at the weekend.

These officials pontificated about regional threats, conflict, international law, human rights and so on; meanwhile out on the streets of Bahrain, not far from the venue, peaceful protesters calling for democratic freedom were being bludgeoned by regime police thugs.

How absurd can it get? Like a comedy double act, Hagel and Hague were enthusing about high-minded democratic principles to their unelected, dictatorial hosts, the Al Khalifa rulers, surrounded by representatives of the other Persian Gulf Arab dictatorships, prime among them the absolute, tyrannical monarchy of the House of Saud.

And yet outside, ordinary Bahraini civilians yearning to see these same principles put into practice were getting their heads cracked open by uniformed thugs acting under the orders of the very same despots applauding Hagel and Hague. Talk about inside-out, upside-down doublethink.

When Bahrain’s mainly Shia majority rekindled their decades-old protests against the unelected Khalifa crime family in February 2011, it was the Saudi-led [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council that marched into the tiny island to crush the pro-democracy movement.

The GCC military force is perversely, but aptly, named “a defense operation”. For its purpose is not the defense against some alleged, non-existent threat from without, but the imminent threat from within.

That threat is the spread of democracy in the region, which would sweep away the unelected super-wealthy families that rule over Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Bahrain – the six member states of the [Persian]GCC.

The Saudi-led invasion of Bahrain in March 2011 to wipe out “the contagion” of democracy in the oil-rich region was given the green light by Washington and London, with whom the Saudi rulers consulted days before sending in the troops and tanks.

Saudi forces still remain in Bahrain – albeit covertly, wearing Bahraini uniforms – where they continue to brutally attack pro-democracy demonstrators every week, as they have done for the past nearly three years.

And it’s not just protesters on the streets that are killed and injured. Saudi-backed Bahraini forces attack whole villages and family homes with night raids and poisonous gas, many of the occupants, including infants and elderly, having died from suffocating fumes.

Thousands of Bahraini families have been ripped apart, as fathers, mothers, sons and daughters are hauled off to jails and torture centers. The prisoners are denied any legal rights, convicted on the basis of tortured confessions, and many of them imprisoned for life.

Prisoners who have incurred disabilities and diseases from their trauma are also denied basic medical attention, putting their lives at risk. Such detainees include the photographer Hussain Hubail, suffering cardiac problems, elderly political opposition leader Hassan Mushaima, who is battling cancer, and human rights defenders Abdulhadi al-Singace and Naji Fateel, both of whom have become paralyzed from their physical beatings. …more

December 10, 2013   No Comments

Mandela Unrealised – without economic liberation Democracy is tool for oppression

Mandela must have died a bitter man. To honor his legacy, we should focus on the unfulfilled promises his leadership gave rise to.

If Nelson Mandela Really Had Won, He Wouldn’t Be Seen as a Universal Hero
by Slavoj Žižek – 9 December, 2013 – Common Dreams

In the last two decades of his life, Nelson Mandela was celebrated as a model of how to liberate a country from the colonial yoke without succumbing to the temptation of dictatorial power and anti-capitalist posturing. In short, Mandela was not Robert Mugabe, and South Africa remained a multiparty democracy with a free press and a vibrant economy well-integrated into the global market and immune to hasty socialist experiments. Now, with his death, his stature as a saintly wise man seems confirmed for eternity: there are Hollywood movies about him – he was impersonated by Morgan Freeman, who also, by the way, played the role of God in another film; rock stars and religious leaders, sportsmen and politicians from Bill Clinton to Fidel Castro are all united in his beatification.

Is this, however, the whole story? Two key facts remain obliterated by this celebratory vision. In South Africa, the miserable life of the poor majority broadly remains the same as under apartheid, and the rise of political and civil rights is counterbalanced by the growing insecurity, violence and crime. The main change is that the old white ruling class is joined by the new black elite. Second, people remember the old African National Congress that promised not only the end of apartheid, but also more social justice, even a kind of socialism. This much more radical ANC past is gradually obliterated from our memory. No wonder that anger is growing among poor, black South Africans.

South Africa in this respect is just one version of the recurrent story of the contemporary left. A leader or party is elected with universal enthusiasm, promising a “new world” – but, then, sooner or later, they stumble upon the key dilemma: does one dare to touch the capitalist mechanisms, or does one decide to “play the game”? If one disturbs these mechanisms, one is very swiftly “punished” by market perturbations, economic chaos and the rest. This is why it is all too simple to criticize Mandela for abandoning the socialist perspective after the end of apartheid: did he really have a choice? Was the move towards socialism a real option?

It is easy to ridicule Ayn Rand, but there is a grain of truth in the famous “hymn to money” from her novel Atlas Shrugged: “Until and unless you discover that money is the root of all good, you ask for your own destruction. When money ceases to become the means by which men deal with one another, then men become the tools of other men. Blood, whips and guns or dollars. Take your choice – there is no other.” Did Marx not say something similar in his well-known formula of how, in the universe of commodities, “relations between people assume the guise of relations among things”?

In the market economy, relations between people can appear as relations of mutually recognized freedom and equality: domination is no longer directly enacted and visible as such. What is problematic is Rand’s underlying premise: that the only choice is between direct and indirect relations of domination and exploitation, with any alternative dismissed as utopian. However, one should nonetheless bear in mind the moment of truth in Rand’s otherwise ridiculously ideological claim: the great lesson of state socialism was effectively that a direct abolition of private property and market-regulated exchange, lacking concrete forms of social regulation of the process of production, necessarily resuscitates direct relations of servitude and domination. If we merely abolish the market (inclusive of market exploitation) without replacing it with a proper form of the communist organization of production and exchange, domination returns with a vengeance, and with it direct exploitation.

The general rule is that when a revolt begins against an oppressive half-democratic regime, as was the case in the Middle East in 2011, it is easy to mobilize large crowds with slogans that one cannot but characterize as crowd pleasers – for democracy, against corruption, for instance. But then we gradually approach more difficult choices, when our revolt succeeds in its direct goal, we come to realize that what really bothered us (our un-freedom, humiliation, social corruption, lack of prospect of a decent life) goes on in a new guise. The ruling ideology mobilizes here its entire arsenal to prevent us from reaching this radical conclusion. They start to tell us that democratic freedom brings its own responsibility, that it comes at a price, that we are not yet mature if we expect too much from democracy. In this way, they blame us for our failure: in a free society, so we are told, we are all capitalist investing in our lives, deciding to put more into our education than into having fun if we want to succeed.

At a more directly political level, United States foreign policy elaborated a detailed strategy of how to exert damage control by way of rechanneling a popular uprising into acceptable parliamentary-capitalist constraints – as was done successfully in South Africa after the fall of apartheid regime, in Philippines after the fall of Marcos, in Indonesia after the fall of Suharto and elsewhere. At this precise conjuncture, radical emancipatory politics faces its greatest challenge: how to push things further after the first enthusiastic stage is over, how to make the next step without succumbing to the catastrophe of the “totalitarian” temptation – in short, how to move further from Mandela without becoming Mugabe.

If we want to remain faithful to Mandela’s legacy, we should thus forget about celebratory crocodile tears and focus on the unfulfilled promises his leadership gave rise to. We can safely surmise that, on account of his doubtless moral and political greatness, he was at the end of his life also a bitter old man, well aware how his very political triumph and his elevation into a universal hero was the mask of a bitter defeat. His universal glory is also a sign that he really didn’t disturb the global order of power. …source

December 10, 2013   No Comments

Bahrain continues draconian jail terms in effort to brutalise Democracy Movement

Bahrain-Protests

Bahrain upholds draconian jail terms for 17 activists
19 November, 2013 – Al Akhbar

A Bahrain appeals court has upheld jail terms of up to 15 years for 17 protest activists accused of attacks on police in the unrest-hit country, a judicial source said Tuesday.

The Manama court, which delivered the verdicts on Monday, also reduced by seven years sentences for three other defendants in the same case, the source said.

The group of activists were tried on charges of attempting to murder police, carrying out arson attacks on their vehicles, causing public disturbance and possessing Molotov cocktails.

Bahrain’s regime-affiliated courts have handed draconian sentences to dozens of protest activists in recent weeks on terrorism-related charges, with authorities using torture to force confessions, according to rights groups.

Since September 29, a total of 138 activists and protest leaders have been sentenced to prison terms of up to life, after dictator Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa in August ordered that dissidents face stiffer penalties.

At least 89 people have been killed at the hands of police since a mostly-peaceful anti-government rebellion began in February 2011, according to the International Federation for Human Rights.

But the deadly crackdown has failed to quell the almost daily demonstrations in villages across the US-backed kingdom.

…source

November 25, 2013   No Comments

Rudderless, Duplictious, US Foreign Policy injures those seeking democracy in Bahrain

October 30, 2013   No Comments

Bahrain Courts of Injustice, bully, intimidate, Political Oppostion in effort to Kill Democracy

Ongoing judicial harassment against Bahraini activists for their cooperation with UN system
28 October, 1013 – ABNA

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) – The Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) and Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) express their serious concern over the ongoing campaign of judicial harassment against human rights defenders in Bahrain who cooperate with the UN system. In the recent days, Human rights defender Mohamed Al-Maskati was interrogated on charges related to freedom of expression, while another 2 defenders of his organization, the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR), are currently behind bars.

On 22 October 2013, human rights defender, co-founder and president of the BYSHR Mohamed Al-Maskati was summoned to Al-Khamis Police Station where he was interrogated on charges of “inciting hatred against the regime” in relation to a speech he made on 8 September 2013 in Jidhafs Town, where he talked about the concept of nonviolence and the importance of demanding rights through peaceful techniques as well as human rights as set in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Defender Al-Maskati was released after he signed a pledge to appear before the Public Prosecution office upon request. His case may be transferred to court at any time.

Mohamed Al-Maskati is a renowned human rights defender, an advocate of non-violence and a trainer of Digital Security for human rights defenders. He has been actively cooperating with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in recent years and has visited the Special Rapporteurs in August 2013. He also met several diplomatic missions in Geneva in coordination with many regional and international Human Rights organizations.

This summon comes at the end of a long list of judicial and extra-judicial harassment to human rights defender Al-Maskati. Since June 2013, he is going through a trial at the Lower Criminal Court, facing possible prison sentences on charges of “participation in illegal protests” in relation to his participation in a peaceful protest entitled “Self determination”. The next hearing will be on 9 December 2013.

Last year, on 16 October 2012, Al-Maskati was detained for about 24 hours and questioned at the Public Prosecution office on charges of “rioting and participating in an illegal gathering” few weeks after he delivered an oral intervention at the Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva, where he informed the (HRC) about the massive intimidation campaign against him. Although he was released after interrogation, but the charges remained pending since then. After tweeting about his attendance at the 21st session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva in September 2012, Al-Maskati received continuous threats via anonymous phone calls. He was threatened with death if “he damaged Bahrain’s reputation in Geneva”, and he was also a target of a smear campaign run by a pro-government newspapers following his return from Geneva.

Another two members of BYSHR are currently behind bars. Human rights defender and BYSHR co-founder Naji Fateel is detained since May 2013 and has been sentenced on 29 Sep 2013 to 15 years in prison after a show trial that fails to live up to fair trial standards. He was reportedly subjected to torture in detention. Human rights defender and member of BYSHR, Hussain Abdulnabi, is still detained while facing a trial since 6 Sep 2013. Some reliable reports confirmed that the security forces have a plan to target other members of the BYSHR. …more

October 28, 2013   No Comments

Tens of Thousands March in Bahrain Villages demanding Democratic Rule

Thousands, including freed politician, protest in Bahrain, demanding reforms in Gulf kingdom
Star Tribune – 25 October, 2013

MANAMA, Bahrain — Thousands of people have marched in the tiny Gulf kingdom of Bahrain, demanding more reforms in the country.

Among the protesters Friday was prominent opposition figure Khalil al-Marzooq, freed Thursday as he faces charges of encouraging violence. He has denied any support for bombings and other attacks, which have been on the rise.

Protesters chanted anti-government slogans Friday and some masked youths confronted police. An Associated Press journalist saw police fire tear gas at demonstrators.

Bahrain has been gripped by nonstop unrest after the kingdom’s Shiite majority began an uprising in early 2011 calling for a greater political voice. Many protesters and other senior opposition figures have been jailed during crackdowns in the strategic island nation, which is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.

…source

October 28, 2013   No Comments

Ousting Bahraini Prime Minister as a step toward Democracy is a Fiction

Opposition Group: Ousting Bahraini PM First Step towards Democracy
9 October, 2013 – FARS

TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior member of Bahrain’s al-Wefaq National Islamic Society said if the Bahraini king sacks his uncle Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalif, he would help settle the crisis in the country in peaceful ways.

“Demands for the resignation of Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa from his post are the first step for the settlement of the crisis which has entangled Bahrain,” Majid Milad told FNA on Wednesday.

His remarks came after the Lebanese al-Safir newspaper reported Washington’s demand from Bahraini King Hamad to oust his uncle from the post which is occupied by him for four decades.

Milad said if the demand is materialized, the Bahraini dissidents will stop their demonstrations and will wait for continued trend of reforms.

Bahrainis have earlier staged anti-regime demonstration in the capital, Manama to call for the kingdom’s long-time prime minister to resign.

Late in September, the demonstrators said Salman Al Khalifa’s resignation will pave the way for the establishment of a democratically-elected government.

Salman, who is an uncle of King Hamad, has been in his post since 1971.

They also called for an end to the dictatorship of the ruling Al Khalifa regime and sectarian measures taken against the country’s Shiite majority.

Anti-government protesters have been holding peaceful demonstrations across Bahrain since mid-February 2011, calling for an end to the al-Khalifa dynasty.

Violence against the defenseless people escalated after a Saudi-led conglomerate of police, security and military forces from the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) member states – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar – were dispatched to the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom on March 2011, to help Manama crack down on peaceful protestors.

So far, tens of protesters have been killed, hundreds have gone missing and thousands of others have been injured.
…source



October 9, 2013   No Comments

Bahrain is proof of Obama’s Contempt for Democracy and Freedom

Bahrain proof of Obama’s cheap words
By Finian Cunningham – 25 September, 2013 – PressTV

And yet here’s an unbearable irony, in reference to possible dialogue with Iran, Obama had the cheek to say that Iranian words must be backed up with meaningful and transparent action.”

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly in New York this week,

President Barack Obama delivered his usual barrage of myth and mendacity concerning the role of the US in the world.

Some commentators have since swooned at the possibility of dialogue between Iran and US and a new era of diplomacy – all because of a few positive-sounding words uttered by the American president.

So, let’s test the veracity or reliability of a few more of Obama’s words as applied to the real world.

“The hard work of forging freedom and democracy is the task of a generation. And this includes efforts to resolve sectarian tensions that continue to surface in places like Iraq, Bahrain and Syria,” he told UN delegates.

Almost every word and claim made by the American president in his entire speech can be rebutted with facts to show that he is either woefully ignorant of history or, more sinisterly, is a deluded liar. It is galling to have to listen to someone lecturing the rest of the world on the peace-making principles of the UN, and especially when that someone is the figurehead leader of the world’s biggest terrorist state.

We haven’t time to repudiate all of Obama’s grandiloquent nonsense, but let’s focus on the sample above. In every case, Iraq, Bahrain and Syria, the US has fomented, sponsored and exploded sectarian violence. That is, the opposite of what Obama claims.

No one is pretending that the Middle East does not have a history of latent sectarian tensions. But the US illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, beginning in 2003, and the overtly sectarian counterinsurgency tactics was like plunging a knife into scar tissue and twisting it open, with predictable bloodletting between Sunni and Shia, and the fleeing of thousands of Christians from an historic homeland, never to return.

Iraq has been turned into an internecine charnel house because of American “hard work”. This violence is an integral part of the US using sectarianism to destabilize Syria for the purpose of regime change there. In this “hard work”, Washington has called upon the divide-and-rule expertise of the old colonial powers, Britain and France, as well as the terrorist competence of the regimes in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey and Israel.

On the third location – Bahrain – where Obama proclaimed to the world that the US is trying to forge freedom and democracy and resolve sectarianism, the reality is again the diametric opposite to the American myth. Indeed, in many ways, Bahrain is a particularly clear proof of the real mendacious and destructive intent of US foreign policy.

The cause of democracy and freedom in Bahrain has been bludgeoned by the Al Khalifa monarchy precisely because of unswerving support from the US, as well as Britain and Saudi Arabia. Bahrain smashes the sugarcoated words of Obama about American idealism into blood-spattered shards.

Bahrain’s 700,000 national population is comprised of 70 per cent Shia, who demand an elected government. For decades, not just since the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011, the population has been calling for this democratic right. Yet this peaceful demand has been met with slaughter and vicious repression – all within only a few miles from the US Navy Fifth Fleet base on the tiny Persian Gulf island.

Bahrain’s coterie of unelected royal rulers, who happen to be Sunni and who historically invaded the island 230 years ago with the help of the British Empire, has succeeded so far to stave off this righteous, basic democratic demand only because of the staunch support it receives from Washington and London.

This support to crush democracy, not forge it as Obama makes out, takes the form of military equipment, such as the sale of shot guns, poison gas and British-made Typhoon fighters jets as discussed last month in 10 Downing Street between UK premier David Cameron and Bahraini King Hamad. It involves diplomatic shielding of the Bahraini regime from international justice, despite the occasional disingenuous “concern” over human rights issued by Washington and London.

The Western imprimatur to bludgeon democracy and freedom in Bahrain is also seen in the repressive expertise with which the Bahraini regime fuels conflict between the Shia majority and the remaining Sunni community. In this, the Bahraini regime has benefited much from the former colonial power Britain in the use of divide-and-rule tactics. The callous turning of blind eye by Washington and London to the systematic violation of the Shia in Bahrain is a crucial approval for the regime to do its worst.

A state of emergency exists in Bahrain in all but name, after the Khalifa rubber-stamp so-called parliament instated a raft of special powers to persecute anyone deemed to criticize the regime, including the mere expression that the despotic regime should stand down and give way to democratic government. All marches and gatherings are banned, thus denying basic freedoms of speech and assembly.

Furthermore, the regime’s paramilitary police force, backed up by Saudi personnel, break into hundreds of homes every week, beating and arresting the occupants. Often these police raids are conducted by masked armed commandos in civilian clothes.

Those detained are not heard of for weeks and months, denied legal counsel and family visits. They are thrown into the Khalifa torture dungeons where they are subjected to the most horrendous physical and mental abuse, such as hanging for days from the ceiling by the wrists.

Invariably, the detainees sign confessions without even knowing what they are confessing to. Then a Khalifa judge will hand down years of imprisonment based on these torture confessions.

Take the case of Rihanna Al Musawi. This mother of three children was first arrested because she was protesting against the unfair imprisonment of political leaders and human rights activists. Rihanna had the temerity to take her peaceful protest to the Formula One Grand Prix circuit where her protest T-Shirt might have been picked up by international television cameras. That was in April. For the past six months, she has been subjected to relentless torture in prison, including being stripped naked and threatened with rape. She faces trumped up terrorism charges and a lifetime in prison.

The Bahraini regime has tried to keep its crimes secret by especially targeting journalists, photographers and bloggers. Journalist Nazeeha Saeed was hauled into custody and tortured, including electrocution and whipping on her back. This was because she reported to international news outlets the horrific killing in cold blood of civilian protester Isa Abdullah Hassan back in February 2011 during the initial protests. Hassan was killed when a policeman fired a gun at point blank to his head. When Nazeeha Saeed was brought into custody, her interrogators kept accusing her of making a false television report on the death.

Another witness to the Bahraini regime’s ruthless crackdown is photographer Hassan Matooq, who was jailed for three years. His “crime” was that of compiling images showing the injuries incurred by peaceful protesters at the hands of the state security forces.

Dozens of other Bahraini journalists and photographers have been targeted by the Khalifa regime, including Mohammed Hassan and award-winners Ahmed Humaidan and Hussain Hubail. As with thousands of other Bahrainis, these individuals have undergone the barbaric Khalifa torture apparatus inflicted with scientific efficiency – techniques that the Americans and British torturers learnt in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Kenya and Northern Ireland. Bahraini sources verify that British personnel are present at these torture sessions.

The reports and images of activists and journalists depicting the daily onslaught of repression in Bahraini villages have earned them particular venom for their powerful testimony. Their persecution is the regime’s way of trying to rob the voiceless of any voice whatsoever.

This is American and British-sponsored sectarianism and repression, as practiced in Bahrain. It is deliberately aimed at terrorizing the constituency for democratic change in Bahrain – the Shia population. For the US and Britain, the last thing these governments want to see in the Persian Gulf, and the Middle East more generally, is democracy and peaceful coexistence between Shia, Sunni, Muslim and Christian, or anyone else.

That’s why Obama’s grandiloquent words at the UN need to be tested against the real world. They are cheap and meaningless when measured against the suffering that US policies actually inflict in practice. Bahrain is proof that President Barack Obama’s lofty claims of forging democracy and freedom and resolving sectarianism are but a sick joke.

Just remember when you finish reading this, the torture of those Bahrainis mentioned above will continue for the rest of today, tomorrow and for years to come, all because of American and British “support”.

And yet here’s an unbearable irony, in reference to possible dialogue with Iran, Obama had the cheek to say that Iranian words must be backed up with meaningful and transparent action. …source

September 25, 2013   No Comments

Bahrain Regime tramples Democracy while Citizen Majority raises it up

On Int’l Day of Democracy: the tyranny rules Bahrain and the vast majority demand democracy
16 September, 2013 – ABNA.co

On Int’l Day of Democracy: the tyranny rules Bahrain and the vast majority demand democracy
(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) – Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society said in a statement marking International Day of Democracy that Bahrain is living under the dominance of the tyranny and authoritarianism. According to the Economist’s Democracy Index, Bahrain is classified as an authoritarian regime with full absence of democracy.

The dictatorship in Bahrain is a result of the tribal rule in place of the people’s will. However, the people of Bahrain had raised their demand for democracy back in the 70s, following their country’s independence. Bahrain has not witnessed any state of democracy, it has long been under the control of a dynasty that uses repression and national resources to rip the social fabric and harm national unity.

Mr Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, has called leaders “to hear, respect and respond appropriately to the voices of the people”. This is a clear call to resort to the people who are the‘source of all powers’ and legitimacy in forming authorities.

The people of Bahrain are well enlightened to live real democracy through self-determination far from any official guardianship of a small group that controls power and wealth, and which contradicts the fundamental basis of democracy in the world, making Bahrain victim to setback and authoritarianism.

Principles relating to freedom, respect of human rights, periodic integral elections through public voting are all necessary elements of democracy. Nonetheless, these elements are stated in the constitution of Bahrain in Article 1, as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Article 21, paragraph (3) “The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures”.

While the United Nations is celebrating the International Day of Democracy under the slogan, “Strengthening Voices for Democracy”, the Bahraini people’s voice in deciding how they are governedis totally absent and it is marginalized in the Judicial Authority. As for the Legislative Authority, integral free elections do not exist and a fair electoral system is absent. In Bahrain, 1 voice in areas loyal to the regime can be equivalent to as much as 6 voices in opposition areas. In one governorate, where the loyalists make the majority, 6 representatives are elected, while another governorate with the same number of voters, but where opposition is majority, elects only one representative. Thus, gerrymandering is blatant in Bahrain.

Freedom House has considered Bahrain ‘not free’ in its 2013 index, while it ranked 150 in authoritarian regimes for the same year, according to the Economist Democracy Index. …source

September 16, 2013   No Comments

Bahrain Government Violence, Abuse Unchecked as Regime implements Emergency “Anti-democracy laws”

Bahrain: Crackdown Worsens as the Authorities Incite Sectarian Violence Following an Alleged Terror Blast in Pro-Government Area
22 July, 2013 – Bahrain Center for Human Rights

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) is gravely concerned over the worsening crackdown and massive human rights violations committed by the Bahraini authorities following an alleged terror blast targeting a mosque at a pro-government area. There is particular concern in regards to how the authorities are using the incident to incite and promote sectarian hatred and violence.

On July 20th 2013, the Ministry of Interior (MOI) wrote on its Twitter account that a car had exploded outside a mosque in Riffa area which caused no injuries, and that the authorities were conducting an investigation.

Though the Bahrain Center for Human Rights is actively following the updates and encourages the government to perform a transparent, impartial investigation into the incident, the BCHR is alarmed over the nature of the ‘required procedures’ the Ministry of Interior has resorted to as during the past five days. The BCHR has documented a large number of human rights violations which include arbitrary arrests, excessive use of force, midnight house raids, attacking mosques and places of worship, and collective punishment.

Arbitrary Arrests, Excessive Use of Force, & House Raids

The BCHR has documented 60 cases of illegal arrests, 140 shotgun injuries, and over 150 house raids in just the last five days.

The majority of arrests occurred after policemen, accompanied by masked civilians, raided individuals houses without an arrest warrant and without providing any justifications for their presence. The other arrests occurred during peaceful protests or at police checkpoints. …more

July 31, 2013   No Comments

Western abandonment of democratic principals leaves Bahrain democracy seekers building alternatives

May 1, 2013   No Comments

Carnage Continues as US ‘friends’ in Bahrain maintain bloody crackdown against Democracy Seekers

The forces used live-ammunition and birdshot pellets aiming directly at bodies and resulting in three serious injuries which need urgent medical treatment.

Bahrain: regime causes serious injuries among pro-democracy protesters
16 March, 2013 – ABNA

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) – Over ten citizens have sustained different injuries after the regime forces in Bahrain opened fire on pro-democracy protesters. The forces used live-ammunition and birdshot pellets aiming directly at bodies and resulting in three serious injuries which need urgent medical treatment.

The forces have also used gas grenades as live-ammunition aiming at the upper parts of the protesters’ bodies in attempt to kill, leaving many injured, with two injuries to the face and head that also need urgent medical treatment.

The regime forces’ use of toxic gas grenade as live-ammunition has previously killed tens of citizens. Last February, Bahrain lost two young men (Mahmmod Al-Jaziri and Hussain Al-Jaziri) both fired at directly at close range by the regime forces.

The ongoing killings perpetrated by the regime forces reflect a clear systematic policy carried out under high official orders to use violence against peaceful pro-democracy protesters.

…more PHOTOS

March 21, 2013   No Comments

Bahrain Protestors Demand Democracy, End of Dictatorship

Bahraini Protestors Call for Establishment of Democracy, End of Dictatorship
2 March, 2013 – FARS

TEHRAN (FNA)- A large number of Bahrainis staged a rally in the western part of capital Manama, and condemned the al-Khalifa regime for refusing to hand over the corpse of an activists killed by the security forces to his family.

The participants in the rally which was titled ‘Democracy Is Our Demand’ stressed the necessity for democratic changes and an end to the dictatorship in the country.

They also condemned the al-Khalifa regime for neglecting humane values, including its refusal to hand over the corpse of martyr Mahmoud Issa, who was killed by the security forces one week ago.

Anti-government protesters have been holding peaceful demonstrations across Bahrain since mid-February 2011, calling for an end to the Al Khalifa dynasty’s over-40-year rule.

Violence against the defenseless people escalated after a Saudi-led conglomerate of police, security and military forces from the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) member states were dispatched to the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom on March 13, 2011 to help Manama crack down on peaceful protestors.

So far, tens of people have been killed, hundreds have gone missing and thousands of others have been injured. …source

March 13, 2013   No Comments

Dialogue seeking Regime arrests 43 people holding dialogue in streets of Manama

Bahrain: Few Days after Call for Dialogue, 43 people arrested for protesting in Manama
28 January, 2013 – ABNA.co

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) – On 25 Jan 2012 hundreds of Bahrainis took the streets in the capital Manama and peacefully protested to demand rights, including the right to self-determination, despite restrictions. The Ministry of Interior set up security checkpoints and road blocks on streets leading to the capital to restrict access. Despite the restrictions, people managed to get into Manama, and were violently attacked by a large number of security forces with tear gas and stun grenades, which also impacted people passing by and the shop keepers in the old market. Tear gas was shot from close distance on the people in the narrow allies of Manama crowded with protesters and shoppers.

The Ministry of interior has called the protest “illegal” in a statement, criminalizing freedom of assembly, at a time when Bahraini law only requires a notification rather than authorization for rallies.

Members of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights have recorded at least two cases of injuries from stun grenades, one male victim who was shot in his leg, and one female who was shot in her shoulder from the back.

A policeman was caught on video slapping a Bahraini citizen, Abdulla Alsaba’a, who is a member of a political opposition society in Bahrain, before he got arrested.

Reporters of international media covering the protest were not saved from assaults and harassments. Mazen Mahdi, EPA photojournalist reported that he was hit by a police sound grenade which was thrown blindly into the crowd. He sustained a minor injury. In addition he was stopped twice for ID check in Manama by the same security unit, in what appeared to be an attempt to hamper his work.

Mass arrests were conducted by riot police accompanied with dogs. According to lawyer Reem Khalaf who was present at AlHoora police station, 43 people were arrested including a Saudi man and an injured man. All of them were held overnight. 15 detainees were interrogated at the public prosecution on Saturday, and the rest were interrogated on Sunday. They all received a 45 day detention order pending investigation on charges of “illegal gathering”, “participating in an unauthorized demonstration” and “disobeying the authorities when asked to disperse”.
Among the detainees is a blogger and activist Nader Abdulemam (@NaderAbdulEmam) who was threatened with arrest few days ago over twitter from a pro-government anonymous user. In addition to the above-mentioned charges, Nader is also accused with incitement to participate in unauthorized march.

Faisal Mushaima was arrested and taken to the Bahrain-Gateway (Bab AlBahrain) police station. When his brother, Abdulhadi Mushaima, an elderly man and the father of Ali Mushima, the first victim of extra judicial killing by police on Feb 14, 2011, went to check on him, he was also arrested and told that he is “wanted” by the police. He was kept in detention for several hours and he was moved to the clinic at the ministry of interior as he suffered from a high level of diabetes. He was later released due to his health deterioration.

A member of the Bahrain Society for Human Rights, Hussain Radhi, was arrested while he was monitoring the protests and documenting human rights violations.

A member of the Islamic Scholars Council, cleric Fadhil AlZaki was also arrested. …more

January 28, 2013   No Comments

Who knew the CIAs Democracy planned for Bahrain came in a Tear Gas Canister?

January 14, 2013   No Comments

Hamad there will be nothing short of Democracy

December 14, 2012   No Comments