April 24, 2013 No Comments
April 19, 2013 No Comments
8 March, 2013 – Moqawama
Bahraini opposition al-Wefaq Association described the imprisonment of Hajj Abdelmajid Abdullah, 63, also known as “Hajji Majid” on grounds of freedom of speech and peaceful demonstration an unjust and vengeful sentence for patriotic activities.
In a statement, al-Wefaq reiterated, “These cruel sentences highlight what the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay mentioned of the courts in Bahrain representing political oppression and a fake image of justice.”
Hajji Majid’s arrest comes days after he starred in the artistic production “Mawtini” (My Country) that dealt with the Arab Revolutions, including the Bahraini revolution. The production showed a scene where illegal oppression and crackdowns by security forces were being enforced on Bahraini citizens.
The Hajj had played the role of a man who was beaten, arrested, and tortured more than once by security forces and abducted from his own house with his children and grandchildren, as the hymn of the well-known “Mawtini” (My Country) played in the background. …more
March 13, 2013 No Comments
20 February, 2013 – Boston Globe
TWO YEARS after protests erupted in the tiny kingdom of Bahrain, King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa has finally announced talks with the political opposition. But the people of Bahrain need more than just talk. The largest opposition party, al-Wefaq, faces popular pressure to withdraw from negotiations. Many in Bahrain have lost faith in the royal family’s willingness to implement democratic reform.
If the Sunni king — a strong US ally whose family has ruled since the 19th century — is serious about allowing Bahrain’s Shi’ite majority a greater voice, he needs to show it. He must pardon and release the “Bahrain 13,” a group of opposition leaders arrested in 2011. He must end violence against nonviolent protesters. And he must hold his own government accountable for systematic torture.
In retrospect, the king’s decision to appoint a respected international commission to investigate the aftermath of the initial uprising looks more like a brilliant stalling tactic than a sign of a more just system. So far, few of that commission’s recommendations have been implemented.
Now, activists who once pushed for modest reforms are calling for the monarchy’s ouster. Serious talks could provide a peaceful way out. Bahrain is home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which patrols the Persian Gulf, through which much of the world’s oil passes. If the monarchy is toppled, or if the crackdown takes an even bloodier turn, the Fifth Fleet could be forced to leave. Russia’s disastrous attempts to prop up Bashar Assad in Syria, home of a Russian naval base, provide a cautionary tale about how badly such an alliance can backfire. …source
February 20, 2013 No Comments
February 20, 2013 No Comments
February 20, 2013 No Comments
Bahrain: Will U.S. Stand Up for Freedom? – Not with Syria boiling, 10s of billions in Saudi Weapons Sales in mix
By Sunjeev Bery – 6 December, 2012 – Amnesty International
In the island nation of Bahrain in the Persian Gulf, a man by the name of Nabeel Rajab is sitting in jail for the “crime” of peaceful protest. But the government that has imprisoned him is a U.S. military ally, and the Obama Administration has done little to push for his release. When U.S. officials arrive in Bahrain this weekend for a global conference, will they finally change course?
Rajab is the President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, and this fact has everything to do with his three year prison sentence. That’s why Amnesty International members worldwide are calling for his freedom, as part of our global “Write for Rights” campaign.
Like Saudi Arabia and other U.S. allies in the region, Bahrain’s ruling Al Khalifa family has imprisoned many people who have dared to criticize the government. And while the U.S. government has issued mild statements of concern along the way, the Obama Administration has fundamentally failed to hold its repressive military ally accountable.
Bahrain didn’t have to be this way. After a massive crackdown on protests in 2011, the King of Bahrain signaled a desire to back away from the tactics his government had employed. He created an independent commission, put a prominent human rights lawyer in charge, and essentially allowed an honest investigation of his own government.
It was a rare occurrence for any government, and the commission issued a public report (PDF) whose conclusions were not kind. But one year later, despite promising to change course, the government of Bahrain has stuck to its old ways. Amnesty International’s latest report (PDF) documents exactly how Bahrain has escalated its repression, including:
A sweeping ban on all protests
Laws making it illegal to criticize the government
Reports of torture by Bahraini security forces, including beatings, electric shocks, and threats of rape
Court decisions upholding the imprisonment of nonviolent critics
The detention of as many as 80 children under the age of 18, many of whom were arrested during demonstrations.
Despite these terrible developments, the Obama Administration has continued to prioritize its military relationship with Bahrain over support for basic freedom. Bahrain is host to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, and the U.S. naval base there is a major focus of the U.S.-Bahrain conversation. Perhaps that is one reason why the U.S. government’s statements on Bahrain have been far milder than criticisms of human rights violations in a country like Iran.
Instead of condemning the Bahraini government’s human rights violations, U.S. diplomats have offered somewhat cautious expressions of concern. These have included calls for Bahraini officials and opposition voices to engage in dialogue. But how can dialogue be possible when a government keeps some of its most prominent critics in prison?
This weekend, U.S. officials will have an important opportunity to change direction. Representatives from some 30 nations will gather in Bahrain’s capital for the Manama Dialogue, a regional conference on security issues. For the U.S. government, this is a significant moment. While Bahraini prisoners of conscience languish in jail cells, will U.S. and Bahraini officials continue with business as usual? Or will there be consequences for the relationship when a U.S. military ally represses its citizens?
While in Bahrain, Obama Administration representatives should publicly condemn the repressive actions of Bahrain’s government. This should include a blunt call to end the countrywide ban on protests and a call for the reversal of the decision to strip 31 Bahraini opposition voices of their citizenship. U.S. officials should also push to meet directly with nonviolent Bahraini critics who have been imprisoned by the monarchy.
Meanwhile, the rest of us should be paying close attention as well. When it comes to U.S. military allies, successive U.S. administrations have demonstrated that they are most likely to push for human rights when the American public makes it difficult for them to look the other way. If the message out of Bahrain this weekend is more of the same, it will take an engaged American public to achieve something different. …source
December 7, 2012 No Comments
Cairo – 2 December, 2012
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) today condemned the Bahraini security forces use of excessive force to address the demonstrations that took place in several villages near Manama on Friday, November 30, 2012.
Several villages near Manama had witnessed mass demonstrations to protest on the security siege imposed by the security forces since three weeks on “Mahza” village, in an answer to the call of the February 14 coalition. They carried banners include slogans opposes the regime and pictures of the detainees in the Bahraini prisons. Bahraini security have addressed the demonstrations by dense tear gas, sound bombs and shut gun bullets which resulted in several injuries among the protesters; such as “Ahmed Mohamed El-Elwani” who was arrested from the village of El-Mosli with a group of his friends then they were tortured before his releasing his friends and he still in the El-Khamis police station.
In a related context the Bahraini security forces destroyed some Shiite mosques in the some villages, among them “Abutaleb” mosque in “Hamd Dawar 19” city and the military mosque of El-Hussien in the city of Hamd Dawar 22. In addition to destroying a wall of Fadak mosque as well as tearing some religious banners and slogans in some regions.
ANHRI said that “the repressive policy of the regime, which escalated recently, begin to clear that it discriminates between the people. The regime started to follow the Shiite activists and villages in addition to destroying their worship houses and assaulting their special ceremonies. The regime also prosecuted the preachers due to their speeches in Friday prayers in order to represent the revolution as if its sectarian not popular in addition to increasing the intransigence of the regime in dealing with the legitimate requests of Bahraini people”.
ANHRI called the Bahrini regime to respect the freedom of expression and the freedom of belief to all the people. …source
December 4, 2012 No Comments
by Stephen Lendman – Steve Lendman blog – 17 November, 2012
The ruling Al Khalifa monarchy is one of the world’s most brutal dictatorships. It’s also a valued US ally. Bahrain is home to America’s Fifth Fleet.
Imperial priorities matter most. Washington backs Bahraini harshness. State terror is policy. Murder, torture, lawless imprisonments, and daily atrocities get tacit support.
Bahrain ruthlessly wages war on freedom. Fundamental human and civil rights are spurned. Activists, protesters, medical professionals treating them when injured, independent journalists, and others supporting right over might are brutalized and imprisoned.
Nabeel Rajab is one of Bahrain’s best. He’s a prominent human rights leader. Activism got him targeted. His resume includes many impressive credentials. In 1999, he and others co-founded the Bahrain Human Rights Society.
In 2002, he, Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, and others co-founded the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR). Authorities terrorized its members for years. Nonetheless, it remains viable.
It promotes civil, political, and economic freedom, ending racial discrimination, and universal human and civil rights. Bahraini despots equate these principles with terrorism.
Last August, Bahrain’s Lower Criminal Court sentenced Nabeel to three years in prison. Supporting right over wrong in the emirate is dangerous. Expressing democratic views is criminalized. So is championing social justice publicly.
King Hamad calls peaceful protests “foreign plots.” Nabeel and others like him put their lives on the line for years. Bahraini activists face arrests, harsh interrogations, torture, and imprisonment. Media scoundrels largely ignore it.
Nabeel’s been in prison since July. He’s charged under Article 178 of Bahrain’s penal code. It prohibits unauthorized gatherings of five or more people for the “purpose of committing crimes (or) undermining public security, even if intended to achieve a legitimate purpose.”
His lawyers appealed. A Bahraini court delayed proceedings. Its ruling won’t be known until around mid-December. Peaceful protests are criminalized. State courts tolerate no challengers. They give kangaroos a bad name.
Bahrain banned protests earlier. On July 20, 2006, King Hamad ratified Code 32 on “Public Gatherings, Processions and Assembly.” Doing so amended the 1973 Decree No. 18. Human rights groups condemned the action. It lawlessly targeted free expression and peaceful gatherings. …source
November 18, 2012 No Comments
Interview with Bahrain EX-MP Ali Alaswad over “protest ban” – No mention of Anti-regime Leaders already in Prison for Banned Protest
October 30, 2012 No Comments
October 30, 2012 No Comments
14 Octoebr, 2012 – Voice of Bharain
The unilateral authorities, which base on neglecting their people, have a logic that considers politics as a tool to enslave the people and to incite hatred among the community components, making them ignorant and then engage them into chaos and bloody fights according to its need.
The logic that the authorities rely on to face the popular freedom aspiration of the people is :
· Firing lethal toxic tear gasses
· Firing rubber bullets
· Firing birdshots
· Being crazily generous to the pro-government agents
· All kinds of exclusion, suppression, repression, terror and threats.
This is the logic of the unilateral authority .
On the contrary, the logic of the peoples who are longing for freedom, and longing to get their right to self-determination. That is the logic of reason , conscience and religion and the logic of all international covenants, it’s the kind of logic that is only rejected by an oppressive ideology.
The peoples are neither violent nor vindictive, and it has been so clear that all Arab-Spring revolutions started as peaceful movements. The authorities’ violence and over-killing pulled some revolutions into violence to face their authority’s abortion of freedom through the people’s bloodshed.
The peaceful popular movement of the people of Bahrain presented a good example of adhering to the peaceful approach, this embarrassed the authorities that are trying recklessly to drag the people into violence in order to escape entitlements of the people’s rights.
In Bahrain, there is a peaceful movement for reform.. the people of Bahrain demand a
· constitution that guarantees the will of the people , and
· fair distribution of electoral constituencies,
· a fairly elected house of representative (parliament)
· elected government
· a non-politicized independent judiciary
· Equality without any kind of discrimination in all state departments
Is there a nation that in this region or the whole world that denies such legitimate demands? Or are the Bahraini people excluded from this world and should not have the right to demand their rights? Don’t they have right to democracy.
The people of Bahrain is one of the peoples that have the same rights of other peoples in the world, the authority is practicing unjustifiable violence against the people of Bahrain, and this has embarrassed it in front of the world.
The authority in Bahrain is practicing unjustifiable violence and terror against peaceful people calling for legitimate demands which cannot be denied by anyone. This oppressive situations is embarrassing the regime in front of the international community and human rights organizations, when the issue of Bahrain is internationally discussed, however the authority is in desperate need of justifications for its violence against the legitimate popular demands.
The regime is trying relentlessly to find an excuse for its violence, that is why we find it
· lying publically in the media
· always trying to link the popular movement to a foreign plot
· creating fake speeches and relating them to religious and political figures, claiming that they call for violence despite their repeated pronounce calls for peaceful movement
However, they make fake sound clips by cutting out a part of a footage and using the sentences or words according to their plot that aims to damage the image of the peaceful movement, and any figure or party that stands by it. This mission aims mainly to falsely relate calls for violence a particular person or party, with no shame or conscience.
The state media has cut out “Crush him” from its context which called for legitimate defense (for women), it has been repeatedly said by state officials and deliberately focused on (alone) to mislead the public inside and outside Bahrain, without shame in such a scandalous obvious lie.
This goes on as the a large number of are victimized and killed by the security forces, yet, the authority approves such behavior justifying it as self-defense! So there is an obliged and permissible self-defense which is initial-killing, while a call to defend women is terror? Here, I am asking any minister, official, cleric, journalist.. what will he do if his family was attacked? Will the minister let anyone come close to attacking females of his family? …more
October 15, 2012 No Comments
1-Abdulwahab Hussain Ali ( life sentence imprisonment)
2-Ibrahim Sharif Abdulraheem Mossa ( 5 Years imprisonment)
3-Hassan Ali Mushaima.( life sentence imprisonment)
4-Abdulhadi Al Khawaja ( life sentence imprisonment)
5-Abduljalil Abdullah Al Singace.( life sentence imprisonment)
6-Mohammed Habib Al Safaf. ( Mohammed Habib Miqdad) ( life sentence imprisonment)
7-Saeed Mirza Ahmed. ( Saeed AlNouri) ( life sentence imprisonment)
8-Abduljalil Mansoor Makk. (Abdul Jalil Miqdad) ( life sentence imprisonment)
9-Abdullah Isa Al Mahroos.( 5 years imprisonment)
10-Salah Hubail Al Khawaj.( 5 years imprisonment)
11-Mohammed Hassan Jawad.( 15 years imprisonment)
12-Mohammed Ali Ismael. ( 15 years imprisonment))
13-Abdul Hadi Abdullah Mahdi Hassan ( Abdulhadi AlMukhodher) ( 15 years imprisonment)
Defendants ( in Absentia) :
14-Akeel Ahmed Al Mafoodh.( 15 years imprisonment)
15-Ali Hassan Abdullah.( Ali Abdulemam) ( 15 years imprisonment)
16-Abdulghani Ali Khanjar.( 15 years imprisonment)
17-Saeed Abdulnabi Shehab.( life sentence imprisonment)
18-Abdulraoof Al Shayeb.( 15 years imprisonment)
19-Abbas Al Omran.( 15 years imprisonment)
20-Ali Hassan Mushaima.( 15 years imprisonment)
October 5, 2012 No Comments
August 31, 2012 No Comments
August 13, 2012 No Comments
August 13, 2012 No Comments
July 30, 2012 No Comments
6 July, 2012 – Al Akhbar
On Friday June 8, thousands of Bahrainis gathered on the outskirts of the capital Manama in what was expected to be another huge protest against ongoing government repression. But as the marchers assembled, they began to split into two groups, each trying to pull confused latecomers over to their side.
There were in fact two marches that day. One, which headed west, was sanctioned by the government as an official protest organized by the al-Wefaq political party, while the other, which headed east towards Pearl Square, was illegal and arranged by the loosely organized, more radical February 14.
The former was made up predominantly of middle-aged men and women chanting for political reforms, while the latter were largely young men, many with their faces covered, confronting security forces and calling for the downfall of the ruling al-Khalifa family.
Alaa Shehabi, a rights leader in Bahrain, said the protest was a major moment for the Bahraini opposition. “It was the first time the February 14 Coalition, on the back of al-Wefaq protests, managed not just to mobilize but really to sabotage it and take it in the other direction.”
The opposition to the ruling al-Khalifa family in Bahrain has never been fully united: al-Wefaq has taken a more conciliatory tone and offered negotiations while February 14 has refused all dialogue on the basis that the regime has no legitimacy. Yet as the uprising which started last February has worn on, hostility between the two groups has intensified.
Jane Kinninmont, a Bahrain expert at Chatham House, says the failure of al-Wefaq to extract any meaningful concessions from the government is leading younger Bahrainis to radicalism.
The opposition to the ruling al-Khalifa family in Bahrain has never been fully united: al-Wefaq has taken a more conciliatory tone and offered negotiations while February 14 has refused all dialogue.
“There are those that think maybe we can negotiate at least some compromise with the government and there is a whole other element that say: ‘we have woken up, we are not going to live under a monarchy any more,’” she says. “Their ranks have grown massively since the uprising started…(and) they are adopting an increasingly angry rhetoric towards groups like al-Wefaq.”
While February 14 would never publicly condemn al-Wefaq, behind the scenes they accuse them of many acts including collusion with America. In a movement where anti-US sentiment is understandably high – the regime continues to buy weapons from America – such a claim is tantamount to an accusation of treason.
One senior February 14 activist, who prefers to remains anonymous, sees the fact that no senior al-Wefaq figures are currently in jail – when leaders linked to February 14 such as Nabeel Rajab have been arrested many times – as a sign of US dominance over the movement.
“Their strategy has failed but they have no other choice. Last year the government attempted to close al-Wefaq and another society. The government abandoned its decision after a clear call from the White House. This makes it clear that if Wefaq changes its tone and becomes more confrontational it will be closed down and the figures will be sent to jail – so they have no other choice,” says the activist. …more
July 6, 2012 No Comments
“We are going to carry on protesting …” says Zainab Alkhawaja, “It doesn’t matter if we get arrested five, six, 10 times…”
Nabell Rajab, the president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, was released on bail after being held for nearly a month. “We always thought that America and Bahrain’s good relations would benefit our fight for freedom and democracy in our region, but it has turned out to be opposite,” he says. “They are supporting a dictator here, the oppressive regime… We have to suffer for being a rich region.”
Alkhawaja, who was jailed in April after protesting the detention of her father, Abdulhadi, vows: “We are going to carry on protesting … It doesn’t matter if we get arrested five, six, 10 times, it’s not going to stop. In the end, we have sacrificed a lot for democracy and freedom.”
June 1, 2012 No Comments
As Bahrain pro-democracy seekers pursue freedom and justice, regime shamefully calls illegally detained “terroists”
May 31st, 2012 – Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights
The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) expresses its deep concern regarding use of the law no. 58 for 2006 related to the protection of society against terrorist acts against pro-democracy demonstrators who were arrested during the past weeks.
According to information of BYSHR, more than 30 pro-democracy demonstrators to be held in custody for 60 days pending investigation.
Penal Code: Held in custody for pending investigation must not exceed 45 days.
Punishments in the law of Terrorist “harsh” may reach Death Penalty or Life Imprisonment.
On 25 July 2006, An independent United Nations human rights expert urged Bahrain’s Government to amend a new counter-terrorism bill, expressing concern that the law could harm human rights in the country and would be “particularly troubling” as the Kingdom is a member of the newly constituted UN Human Rights Council. -more below
[excerpt from history of unjust laws off oppression in Bahrain]
Bahrain terror bill is not in line with international human rights law – UN expert
25 July, 2006 – UN News Center
An independent United Nations human rights expert today urged Bahrain’s Government to amend a new counter-terrorism bill, expressing concern that the law could harm human rights in the country and would be “particularly troubling” as the Kingdom is a member of the newly constituted UN Human Rights Council.
The bill, titled “Protecting Society from Terrorists Acts,” is awaiting ratification by the Head of State before becoming law, but the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Martin Scheinin, called for the legislative and executive branches to “reconsider.”
“While fully conscious of the fact that States’ obligation to protect and promote human rights requires them to take effective measures to combat terrorism, I encourage the executive and legislative branches of Government to make amendments to this bill to bring it in line with international human rights law.
“Disregarding concerns based on international human rights standards would be particularly troubling in the case of a country that is a member of the newly constituted UN Human Rights Council.”
The Special Rapporteur wrote to the Government in March and again last month, when this bill was before Parliament, identifying some issues of concern regarding the proposed legislation and he also listed these four broad areas in today’s statement.
May 31, 2012 No Comments
May 31, 2012 No Comments
29 May, 2012 – Bahrain Center for Human Rights
Beirut, 29 May 2012 — The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) welcome the news that internationally renowned human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja has decided to end his hunger strike and that human rights defenders Nabeel Rajab and Zainab Al-Khawaja have been released on bail.
On the 28th of May 2012, human rights defender and founder of the GCHR and BCHR, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, announced that he is ending his 110-day hunger strike. Since the 23rd of April 2012, in violation of his human rights, he was subjected to force-feeding by state agents and his decision to end his hunger strike follows on-going requests from his fellow detainees and his supporters.
Throughout Al-Khawaja’s hunger strike he was able to draw international attention to the on-going human rights violations that are taking place in Bahrain. The hunger strike brought attention to the plight of human rights defenders and political activists who are in/were in detention and/or have been subjected to human rights violations by the authorities as a result of their peaceful activities. Despite the primary demand of his hunger strike of “freedom or death” not being met, he has achieved one of his main goals by attracting global attention and focus on the human rights situation in the country. In a statement issued by Alkhawaja, the human rights defender thanked his family for their support and expressed his gratitude to all those who had shown solidarity with him both inside and outside Bahrain. He will now begin a special diet in order for his body to recover from the 110-day hunger strike.
Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja was arrested on the 8th of April 2011 and subjected to severe physical and psychological torture as well as sexual assault in detention. The National Safety Military Court sentenced al-Khawaja to life in prison in June 2011 on fabricated charges of terrorism and attempting to overthrow the regime. In November the military court rejected his appeal and on the 2nd of April 2012 the Court of Cassation refused his lawyer’s appeal to release him on health grounds, despite his deteriorating health condition. He began his hunger strike on the 8th of February 2012. The GCHR and BCHR have issued previous appeals on his case with the most recent dated on the 5th of April 2012 (http://gc4hr.org/news/view/110).
On the 22nd of May 2012, Abdulhadi Al-Khawja appeared in a wheel chair, at an appeal before a civilian court. During his testimony he denied the charges against him and he testified about the violations he had been subjected to by state authorities since his arrest including being held in solitary confinement severe torture. These violations were referred to in the report issued by the “Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry” (BICI) on the 23rd of November 2011.
Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja referred to the findings of the BICI report in his testimony before the court and stated “the continuation of my arrest is a crime …. there is no legal excuse for my continued detention”. On this basis, he demanded his immediate release, the dropping of all charges against him and the quashing of the sentence issued by the National Safety Military Court. He also demanded the provision of necessary guarantees that would enable him to continue his activities in defending human rights in absolute freedom after his release. …more
May 31, 2012 No Comments
24 May 2012 – MWC News – Jacob G. Hornberger
One of the ostensible goals of U.S. foreign policy is to spread democracy. Of course, the reality is the exact opposite. The U.S. Empire is one of the greatest lovers of nonelected dictatorships in the world, as manifested by its ardent support of such dictatorships as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Chile (under Pinochet), Guatemala (after ousting Arbenz), Iran (after ousting Mossadegh), Pakistan (under Musharraf), Yemen, Bahrain, and many others.
But the irony is that even if the U.S. Empire was the greatest democracy-spreader in the world, it still wouldn’t necessarily be spreading freedom by spreading democracy. The reason is a simple one: Democracy is not freedom.
In fact, as Ludwig von Mises pointed out, the only real advantage to democracy is that it enables people to peacefully change the administration of government.
Consider Syria, whose government is dictatorial in nature. Since Syria isn’t a democracy, the citizenry have but one way to oust the regime from power: violence — i.e., revolution.
But does a democratic system necessarily constitute a free society?
Absolutely not! A free society does not turn on whether people can peacefully change public officials. It instead turns on the extent of powers wielded by public officials, whether they are democratically elected or not.
Suppose people are living in a democratic society. Suppose also that whoever is elected president has the powers to force people to go to church, punish people for criticizing the government, confiscate weapons, and arrest, torture, and jail people for as long as he wants without a trial.
Would anybody consider that a free society, notwithstanding the fact that the president has been democratically elected? I think everyone would agree that that society is as far from being free as one could ever imagine.
It is not a coincidence that the word democracy is not mentioned one single time in the Constitution. The Framers understood that democratic regimes can be just as tyrannical as non-democratic regimes. Again, freedom turns on the powers that are wielded by public officials, whether they are democratically elected or not.
The Framers also understood that freedom is one of the natural, God-given rights with which all people have been endowed. Such rights preexist government. As Thomas Jefferson observed in the Declaration of Independence, people call government into existence with the aim of protecting the exercise of people’s rights.
The problem, as Jefferson also observed, is that the natural propensity of governments, including democratically elected ones, is to infringe, suspend, and abridge the very rights that the government was called into existence to protect.
Thus, while the Constitution called the federal government into existence with the aim of protecting people’s fundamental rights, it simultaneously limited the powers of the federal government to the few powers enumerated in the document.
Immediately after the enactment of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights was enacted. It made it clear that the federal government was prohibited from abridging people’s natural, God-given rights. It also outlined the judicial procedures that had to be followed before the federal government could punish people with arrest, torture, incarceration, or execution.
Thus, while the United States was established as a system in which people could peacefully oust public officials from office and replace them with others, our ancestors understood that that wasn’t sufficient to establish a free society. A free society necessarily involved severe restrictions on the powers that democratically elected federal officials would be permitted to wield.
Of course, it’s no surprise that U.S. officials try their best to convince Americans that democracy is freedom. If Americans are convinced that democracy is freedom, then they’ll be satisfied with the fact that there is an electoral process. They might even participate in it by voting, making them feel even more free. The idea is that Americans will look on the United States as a free country because there are elections, even as public officials assume the power to seize people, torture them, incarcerate them indefinitely without trial, or execute them with a kangaroo tribunal rather than after a legitimate jury trial — i.e., the same powers wielded by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen, Cuba, and other non-democratic dictatorships around the world. …source
May 24, 2012 No Comments
By: Shahira Salloum – 18 May, 2012 – Al Akhbar
Fifteen months into their uprising, Bahrainis balk at both the proposed union with Riyadh and statements reviving the Iranian claim to their country.
Tensions are running high between the two coasts of the Persian Gulf.
The war of words pitting Saudi Arabia and Bahrain against Iran may be part of a regional struggle that is essentially over Syria rather than Bahrain. But Bahrain is its current focus, and it is the Bahraini people who are being made to pay the price.
The escalation was triggered by the announcement of Saudi Arabia’s plans to merge with Bahrain under the guise of forming a Gulf union, and fuelled by Iranian statements that were made in response.
Some of these went as far as reviving Iran’s former claim to Bahrain.
The conservative newspaper Kayhan, which is seen as speaking for supreme leader Ali Khamenei, ran an editorial Tuesday which maintained that “the Islamic Republic, as guarantor of the safety and territorial integrity of Iran, reserves the right to want the return of a separated province to the Islamic homeland.” It claimed that “the Bahrainis consider themselves to be Iranians, and reports indicate that they are eager to return to Iran.”
The speaker of the Iranian parliament, Ali Larijani, had earlier remarked that if Bahrain were to unite with any other country, it should be with Iran and not Saudi Arabia.
Tensions with Iran have also been used by the Bahraini authorities to justify cracking down harder on the opposition.
Meanwhile, Iran’s Islamic Propagation Coordination Council urged Iranians to hold demonstrations in protest at “the American plan to annex Bahrain to Saudi Arabia.”
This followed a statement by a group of Iranian MPs warning the Saudis that the anti-regime protests in Bahrain would extend to their territory if it the proposed union was set up.
The foreign ministry’s spokesman, Ramin Mahmanbarast, was more diplomatic, remarking that “the solution to the crisis in Bahrain lies in fulfilling the legitimate demands of the people.”
Such statements provoked a flurry of angry Saudi, Bahraini and Gulf responses.
Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal had warned Iran — at the conclusion of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit in Riyadh at which the planned union was discussed – that “it has no business, whatsoever, in what happens between the two countries, even if extends to union.”
The Bahraini government for its part summoned the Iranian charge d’affaires to protest against his country’s “brazen interference” in its affairs.
It also upped the ante that by signalling that although no proclamation of the union with Saudi Arabia was made at the Riyadh gathering, one would be forthcoming ahead of the GCC’s next regular annual summit due to be held in Manama in December. The Bahraini king’s media advisor, Nabil al-Hamar, tweeted what he termed the “good news” that it would be formally established at special GCC summit to be convened in the Saudi capital.
Tensions with Iran have also been used by the Bahraini authorities to justify cracking down harder on the opposition. On Wednesday they published a list of 20 people they said were wanted for committing “terrorist crimes” against the security forces. The harassment and arrest of opposition activists has also been stepped up.
But how do the Bahraini people feel about Riyadh or Tehran’s perceived designs on their country? The responses of prominent Bahrainis quizzed by Al-Akhbar about the proposed union with Saudi Arabia and the Iranian reaction varied.
Liberal opposition activist Munira Fakhro drew a distinction between theory and practice as far as the former prospect is concerned. …more
May 18, 2012 No Comments
May 11, 2012 No Comments