Sunday, November 21, 2004

Update: The Verdict-The clemency

من يحاكم من ؟؟؟؟ - who is trying who??

The Khawaja court case, by putting one man on trial, has reflected the complexities of the political situation in Bahrain, the independence of the judicial system, freedom of speech, corruption, and has increased the street's demand for the resignation of the PM. We called him stupid for saying what he said, but in bringing these important issues to surface, he is in fact the one that has put the government on trial.

This trial was a sham. I totally agree with the reasons he boycotted the trial. As I understood he is unlikely to appeal. How can you defend yourself in a judicial framework that is flawed in essence, not independent and politically driven? Trials are a mere theatrical play with the outcome decided in advance. Speak to any Bahraini lawyer and they will tell you that.

The irony is that Khawaja has been found guilty of inciting hatred of 'ni'9am al7ukm'. Now ni'9am al7ukm literally translated means system of governence, but in arabic it also means the governing regime which implies Alkhalifa-the ruling family. Khawaja is saying that he directed his remarks not at ni'9am al7ukm (regime) but at the 7ukooma which is the government. This distinction is extremely sensitive and thin. Now the Alkhalifa are both ni'6am al7ukm (the regime) and the 7ukooma (government) since the Prime Minister is a Khalifite. So this means that you cannot question the government headed by Khalifa bin Salman since you will also be questioning the regime at the same time, what kind of constitutional monarchy is this???

It is unfortunate that has decided to shut his blog down. He realizes that blogging under his real name, although courageous, means that he will be held accountable for every word that is written there and can face severe consequences for doing so. My advice to him would be, since you have put so much effort in the blog, maybe you should carry on blogging but stick to the topics you have comparative advantage, like cars, your pet dog and even international politics. Unfortunately, those who want to seriously tackle domestic political issues in Bahrain will have to do so under an anonymous name. I expect that from this day on, most political activity will go underground, most human rights files will operate from abroad. And this struggle for freedom will continue for a long time to come.

Indeed the political regime in Bahrain itself is finding it difficult to reconcile its tribal mentality with modern day notions of democracy, its main protagonists taking on different roles on a frequent basis, one day emerging as the champion of the people, a demigod, the generous benefactor, another day as a shrewd Saddam-like despot and another day as the victim, according to which the tone of voice and lines change to suit these roles. But at the end of the day, when the costumes are taken off, the true colours of tribal Machavellian rule are revealed. Although the hope remains that a new King would bring with him a new progressive outlook, I have to agree with Thomas Paine when he says:
One of the strongest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary right in kings,is, that nature disapproves it, otherwise she would not so frequently turn it into ridicule by giving mankind an ass for a lion.

The people of Bahrain, have been struggling for over a century to change this balance of power. It is safe to say that no one wants a return to violence and and over the past few years, the street has perfected and understood the methods of peaceful protest and civil disobedience in airing their frustrations about this balance. But they are yet to define a leadership strong enough to rise up to the challenge.

So King Rambo has intervened and deigned upon us one of his oh-so merciful clemencies (like he did with 100+ convicted criminals in Ramadan), and will release Khawaja and the other prisoners by a 'makrama malakia'. Overriding the judiciary like this just shows that everything that happens here depends on the whims of the monarch, even our 'democracy' depends on the whims of the monarch. This is indeed extremely insulting, dare I use a quote posted on Mahmood's blog:

"As long as you are ruled by men and not democratic institutions which draw their just powers from a Constitution, you will suffer the insult of the monarch's whims." Steve the American

Such whims which determine the future political destiny of an entire population, such whims which lead to amendments to the constitution as the monarch pleases, such whims which are out of date in a modern state.

Someone please tell Rambo, that it is too early to play Santa Claus, and that this pantomime is getting boring, we need new actors.

For those who dont agree, I suggest you have a nice hot bath, a cup of cocoa and go back to bed.

Posted by BB @ 11/21/2004 03:05:00 PM

Read or Post a Comment

mahzala wallah mahzala. Its a joke

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous @ 11/21/2004 08:52:00 PM #

Abdulhadi Khawaja speaks to the New York Times:

Bahrain Activist Pardoned by King
New York Times

Published: November 21, 2004

Filed at 10:59 p.m. ET
MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) -- A rights activist convicted Sunday of inciting hatred of Bahrain's government and released hours later by a royal decree said he believes the king is committed to reforms in the tiny Gulf kingdom.

Abdul-Hadi al-Khawaja was welcomed home in Daih, southwest of the capital, Manama, by hundreds of well-wishers. Supporters honked their cars and cheering crowds threw flowers and leaves.

``I think both the king and the crown prince are serious about reform. I believed it even when I was in prison,'' al-Khawaja told The Associated Press by telephone. ``But sadly, there are parties that don't like to see this change.''

Al-Khawaja, executive director of the now-dissolved Bahrain Center for Human Rights, was detained Sept. 25, a day after publicly blaming the prime minister, Sheik Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, for economic failures and human rights violations and calling for his resignation.

Al-Khawaja was convicted Sunday morning of inciting hatred of the government and spreading false information, and sentenced to one year in prison.
But hours later, the king, Sheik Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, issued a decree ``pardoning al-Khawaja from spending the rest of his sentence in jail, to suffice with the period he spent in jail,'' Bahrain's news agency reported.

The decree appeared to be a suspension of the sentence rather than a pardon of the charges. It also ordered the release of 13 people arrested last month while protesting al-Khawaja's detention.

Al-Khawaja had been on a hunger strike since Nov. 14 to press for their release, and was briefly hospitalized last week after collapsing from weakness. His wife, Khadija al-Mousawi, said he broke his fast after 12 of the men were freed. He was trying to determine why one person was not released.

The decree proved that the pro-Western king is serious about reform, analysts said, but added that limits to Bahrain's democratization still exist and must be overcome.

``I believe the monarch wants to jump-start a car that is stopping every now and then,'' analyst and former dissident Mansoor al-Jamri said, adding that he believes the king ``is moving in the right direction.''

Since assuming power in 1999, Sheik Hamad has reinstated a partly elected parliament, pardoned Shiite Muslim political prisoners and allowed exiles to return. In May, he fired his interior minister, saying he was not pleased that police tried to keep thousands from protesting fighting in Iraqi holy cities. Bahrain is one of the few Gulf states that tolerates peaceful protests.

However, the fact that ``some people face trial for criticizing the government represents a setback,'' said Joanna Oyediran, an Amnesty International lawyer who attended al-Khawaja's trial.

Part of the reform process ``is to review the penal code and try to ensure it complies with international human rights standards,'' she said.

Al-Khawaja, who returned in 2001 with his family after 22 years in Europe, expressed hope Sunday for Bahrain's future.

``People have begun talking about the problems in the country and I thinking that positive things are going to come,'' the former exile said. ``Things are going in a positive direction and will be better.''

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous @ 11/22/2004 08:42:00 AM #
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