Sunday, November 07, 2004

Hot Potato

لن يقول لنا الصحافييون المتحذلقون أن ذلك خطأ، ولن يدان هذا التعذيب كما أدينت
عملية عرقلة السير(الإرهابية الكبرى) وكما أدينت عملية قذف الحجارة (البربربية
الإجرامية الوحشية!!) لن يقولوا ذلك، وسيعتبرون هذه الإجرءات تطيباً لخاطر الناس،
وليست تحشيداً وتصعيداً في الموقف وتحريضاً مباشراً.



Back to domestic politics. Things arnt looking too good, and I’m actually starting to get worried. It seems that this post-mithaq era isn’t stablising at all, and no ‘they lived happily ever after’ ending is in sight. Reports are circulating now that Khawaja who was going to boycott this morning’s court sitting, was carried forcefully to court. He showed the marks of severe physical torture on his face and body. Upon removing his shirt to show the judge the marks of torture, the judge swiftly issued him with another charge of undermining the judicial council, and postponed the sitting to 21st November. It is not Khawaja that is on trial, but freedom of speech. What happened to "I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will fight to the death your right to say it." -Voltaire. All of a sudden, when Khawaja said something nobody liked, this statement went out of the window.

Everyone was expecting the King to come to the rescue and issue a Royal pardon by Eid, but seems like good old uncle K isn’t having it. Unfortunately this really does show that an old dog doesn’t learn new tricks. Cosmetic changes to the system are starting to wear away. The new Interior Minister is as incompetent as the old one, as it is clear he is continuing the same old stone-age policies of commanding his Pakistani and Yemeni troops in the Bahraini Public Service to clampdown on protestors. The same methods of torture and arbitrary arrest, and now more laws to tighten public gathering and demonstration. All I can say is so much for freedom of speech in a country where the Chair of Parliament Dhahrani says that "if I was in the governments place, I would have ended the protests with a bulldozer".

In addition, across the country in the past few days, anti-PM slogans were shouted in all the religious festivities like the Imam Ali processions and even in the Laylat alqadr supplications. I was there and trust me, people are not happy, the wave of backlash has gone beyond the control of the Opposition figures themselves. People defied Sh. Isa Qassim’s (the leading cleric in Bahrian) calls to not protest. Just see the type of signs people are scrawling every where in the photos below:




The posters say:

Some of the Prime Ministers achievements:
-more than 80,000 poor people
-No less than 6000 homes are verging on collapse
-A national has to wait more than 12 years to get a council house
-the loss of 40 martyrs
-more than 20,000 families living under poverty
-Poverty line is set at 309BD. Whereas the starting salary for a national in the public sector is 159BD and in the private sector 80BD.
-more than 44,000 applications pending in the Ministry of Housing for a council house or loan.


Khawaja is indeed proving to be a political hot potato for the government. On the one hand, they want to severely punish him for what he said, thus they want to keep him locked up and reprimanded, and condemned for the longest sentence possible, sending a message to others. However, this line to Khawaja has backfired massively as every single international Human Rights organisations has condemned the arrest. It has proved a public relations faisco. In addition, a long drawn out trial isnt in the interest of the government either, since in trying Khawaja for his statement that the PM is the root of corruption in Bahrain, Khawaja's 12-strong defence team will also be putting the PM on trial, and proving that indeed the PM is the root of corruption. Apparantly, BCHR is in possession of some sensitive papers that would severly embarress the government.

Another solution, is to get naughty Khawaja to say sorry to good old Uncle K for being rude to him. There have been countless intermediaries sent to put pressure on Khawaja to sign a public apology and backdown from his remarks. And trust me, in this country, when the government puts the pressure, it is really hard to resist, as it uses every tactic in the book, the carrot and the stick, to force you to do as they want. Judging by Khawaja's previous stands, this man will not back down voluntarily. However, under torture every man breaks.

On the other hand, if they release him, he will seem to have won, and in this country, the Alkhalifa are 'untouchables', u cannot question them, you cannot critisize them and you cannot confront them. Alot of people also believe in this 'do not bite the hand that feeds you' situation. The issue is that they are not 'feeding' enough, otherwise, Bahrainis wouldnt bite.



Posted by BB @ 11/07/2004 07:28:00 PM

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Latest from Gulf News

Al Khawaja lawyers boycott trial
MANAMA | By Mohammad Almezel, Bureau Chief | 08/11/2004

The trial of Bahraini human rights activist Abdul Hadi Al Khawaja was postponed for the third time yesterday. The judge's decision was taken without the presence of defence lawyers who had decided to boycott the proceedings.

Judge Sayyed Mohammad Al Kafrawi adjourned the case for a ruling later this month "because the defence lawyers didn't show up," according to an associate of Al Khawaja, former executive director of the now-dissolved Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) who is on trial for publicly criticising the Prime Minister during a debate on poverty.

He reportedly called for the resignation of the government. Al Khawaja is accused of "inciting hatred of the regime by publicly calling it corrupt," and "making false news and rumours that may harm the public interest."

Al Khawaja said during his last court appearance on October 25 that he would boycott future sessions because the trial, he claimed, was "unconstitutional." "The trial conflicts with my right of free opinion and goes against international human rights conventions," he said in a statement read before the judge.

He also asked his lawyers not to show up. The lawyers have already asked the judge to drop the charges because they were "based on Articles in the penal code that totally conflict with the constitution," according to lawyer Mohammad Al Mutawa.

The lawyers didn't show up yesterday. "But Al Khawaja told the judge that he had been forced to appear in court," Nabeel Rajab, president of the BCHR, told Gulf News.

The judge ordered Al Khawaja to remain in custody until the next court session on November 21, when the judge is expected to give his verdict. The charges carry the maximum of three years in prison, according to lawyers. Al Khawaja, 43, was arrested on September 25, shortly after a symposium on poverty.

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous @ 11/08/2004 12:37:00 PM #
 

and all this happening during Ramadan.... putting an individual in prison all through such a Holy month - very sad.....Atleast the GDN have woken up & are reporting on the on-goings nowadays.....

Posted by Blogger Angelo Embuldeniya (Strav) @ 11/08/2004 07:32:00 PM #
 

and in other news Bahrain vows to secure the release of a Philippine hostage in Iraq: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2004-11/08/content_2191994.htm


now we need to put our heads together in securing the release of prisoners during Ramada so they can spend this holy month inthe future with their famillies.... what happens after Ramadan is a different story....

oh well....its just a thought...

Posted by Blogger Angelo Embuldeniya (Strav) @ 11/08/2004 08:44:00 PM #
 

I smell the whiff of another uprising if the stalemate between the King and the people continues.

Ahmed

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