Saturday, May 24, 2008

Letter to Abdullah

22nd May 2008

Dearest Abdullah,

The “cage went in search of a bird” - Kafka.

It was only a matter of time – but still, I didn’t expect you to be caged up for this long. Each word is a dagger wrenched out of a heart weighed heavy with shame, guilt and sorrow over what you are having to endure. The pen doesn’t know what the heart will say, but you have seen these words even before they appeared on this page since you are closer to my heart than the jugular vein. The pen is merely executing this letter-writing exercise as a postdated transcription of my tormented thoughts drained by internal bleeding.

I feel powerless in the face of a system that conspires to crush threats to its authority with brute force - which is the precise intended effect of your arrest. Yes you, Abdullah, threatened its power and authority. This either credits you with extreme strength or credits the throne with extreme insecurity. You and the others are the real heroes, and I recognise that because I know what you are about and what you were trying to do. Like the character 'Rahmatullah' in the story you wrote in your last letter, you will go down to save the others - you will take the bullets and the hits. I really want to read the next part of the story to see what you think will happen to the Turkman - I can't help wonder if your fates are intertwined.

In your letter you say that “they can fire bullets at us and at our dreams but they can not stop us from dreaming”. Abdullah, they no longer fire the bullets, instead they have made us turn the guns against each other. The dreams are nightmares … just to let you know that Attiyatullah made a grand performance recently and received standing ovations – only in Bahrain and Israel this year is fascism being openly celebrated… I’d join in the fun if it wasn’t so audacious or if I hadn’t been batting on the wrong side.

I should be praying for your quick release, but I find myself wondering if it is better for you to stay where you are. Since December 21st, the day of your arrest, I can’t say there has been a single substantive development in the country; the most hated American president came to visit for the first time to try the local bacheh and harees, I think he was impressed by the hospitality he received – yiqtil il mayit o yimshi fi ijnazeteh. It really did feel like the final nail in the Arab coffin.

Like K. in Franz Kafka’s book called The Trial you have been arrested for an unspecified crime and you have had to participate in a theatrical trial that I’m sure leaves you delusional with the comic state of reality. K. did not know what the charges against him were. It wouldn’t have made a difference if he had known because once arrested there are only
three possible outcomes to his struggle: definitive acquittal, ostensible acquittal, and indefinite postponement. In the book, there is zero chance of definitive acquittal, therefore K. is almost forced to plead guilty to a charge for a crime unknown to him. In your case, you have had to endure the seemingly indefinite postponement and the prospect of ostensible acquittal; living with the risk of re-arrest. I tried to get a hold of an Arabic translation of this book for you, but thought maybe it wasn’t the best time for you to read it for obvious reasons. It does leave one feeling slightly paranoid and despaired with modern day bureaucratic systems with unknown agendas. I really do feel safe now that I have a smart ID card in the hands of such trusted and transparent authority .

One last thing, if it is of any comfort, some eight other Bahraini guys managed to get lost and accidently ventured into a no-go security area in Saudi. They haven’t been seen since. We should be grateful really that you are in a Bahraini jail – torture and all. They were arrested for reading the directions on a map wrong - imagine what would happen if they had committed thought-crime!

Stay strong, passionate and committed…a hero needs no saviour, but we definitely need you!

With love.


Friday, January 18, 2008

Bahraini blogger and activist arrested

It is with a heavy heart that I have to inform the online community of the arrest of another Bahraini blogger in the recent escalation of events. On the 21st of December 2007, the author of the blog Bahrain Eyes was picked up in the wave of arrests following the death of Ali Jassim on 17th December. I am told that he has been questioned on his online writings there and elsewhere on the internet. I came to identify the blogger from the unique style of poetry and my subsequent inquiries confirmed my suspicion.

This arrest follows a string of harrassment of bloggers over the last few years, with some even being banished from the country. But due to the sensitivity of these matters, their identities must remain anonymous for their own safety and their families.

Recent reports from inside the jail tell of atrocious conditions, torture and the denial of visits, with confessions obtained under duress. I urge the blogging community to rally and call for the release of all of the prisoners.

A disturbing testimony of a family member of one of the prisoners who was forced to kiss the feet of a police officer:

Why we are in a gloomy mood...

"IT IS not easy to be an Arab these days. If you are old, the place where you live is likely to have changed so much that little seems friendly and familiar. If you are young, years of rote learning in dreary state schools did not prepare you well for this new world. In your own country you have few rights. Travel abroad and they take you for a terrorist. Even your leaders don't count for much in the wider world. Some are big on money, others on bombast, but few are inspiring or visionary. "

The Arabs - Between fitna, fawda and the deep blue sea

Arab generosity

Some offered their blatant hypocrisy

Some offered their remaining dignity

Some offered thier beloved children

...and some offered simple rage

ملك البلاد اراهم قد اسرفوا اذا قلدوك من النفاق وساما

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A source tells me there is a field in thepassport/ID database system which says "compulsory airport security check". I now know the extensive airport searches are NOT a coincidence. It's always baffled me, that in at least the area of Intelligence we are unsurpassed. Our intelligence machine is the most sophisticated in the world, no expenses spared, the latest technology of smart cards and biometric identifying systems as well as the latest in surveillance technology. I don't know about you but I boast about this everywhere I go.

(Not online, excerpt from magazine) Interviewer: What's the most surreal situation you've been in? Sheikh Abdullah flying me out to Bahrain from Brazil. We landed and went to the motor racing. Plus being in the Sheikh's studio in his palace in the middle of this desert island, when two days ago I was in the favelas with the planet's poorest people.

Maybe you would have found it even more surreal if he'd bothered to take you to the other side of the island where our own 'favelas' are crammed into the same land mass as your host's palace.

My mother's cooking. A very useful site for this time of year! Hope she gets on with desserts soon.