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To defeat terrorism, abandon your support to hereditary dictatorshipsLast month the Al Khalifa ruling family imposed a new law that effectively removes the right of civil society institutions to challenge their absolute authority or express publicly any view that does not conform to their wishes. The Societies Law makes obliges these societies to recognise Sheikh Hamad’s constitution that he forcefully imposed on the country in 2002 and abandon any effort to call for a contractual constitution. This, in essence, removes the basis for the existence of these societies which had been formed in 2001 as avenues to continue the peaceful struggle against dictatorship. If this law is allowed to be put into action, these societies have two options; either to declare publicly their loyalty to the Al Khalifa constitution or opt out of the law and declare a policy of civil disobedience. Last year, the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights had taken this avenue and it now operates outside the Al Khalifa dictates. Its members are persecuted, jailed and beaten. The new law will enable the Al Khalifa to take the punishment a step further by making these offences (operating outside the Societies Law) punishable with lengthy prison sentences. The Law had been formulated by the Al Khalifa ruling family and the their two chambers were ordered to pass it. It was stamped by their stooges and it is expected to be put into effect soon. So far, the Al Khalifa have been effective in disguising their repressive policies in democratic dressings and have managed to deceive the outside world. However, inside the country, a different story is emerging. There is now an atmosphere of pessimism as to the ability of the Al Khalifa hereditary dictatorship to function in a civilised manner after centuries of absolute rule. The Societies Law has now come to prove those sceptics who had doubted the intentions of Sheikh Hamad and his clique, and remove any remaining optimism in the future of the country under this dictatorship. Sheikh Hamad had articulated his carefully-planned political programme to give the impression of progressiveness, democracy and the rule of law. It has now emerged that these notions have been deformed and made to serve the interests of this minority rule only. Almost every aspect of civil life in Bahrain has been modified in order to cater for the wild personal ambitions whose ambitions to become a king had justified every action he had undertaken. The first serious step he had taken when he assumed power after the death of his father in 1999 was to change the demography of the country through a programme of political naturalisation that had allowed him to grant Bahraini citizenship to tens of thousands of foreigners. In order to safeguard his rule, he elevated torturers to higher positions and prevented any possible prosecution of those who had committed horrific acts of torture and maltreatment of the people over a period of quarter of a century. Decree Law 56 was thus introduced and enforced despite the international outcry against the principle of sheltering those who had committed heinous crimes of torture and collective punishment. The Law was used by Sheikh Hamad to promote people like Abdul Aziz Atiyyat Allah Al Khalifa, Khaled Al Ma’awdah and Abdul Rahmad bin Jabir Al Khalifa to new positions that they would not have dreamt of in a democratic country. The repression is now practiced in a more institutionalised way. For example, in order to escape the accusation of arbitrary detention and torture behind bars, Sheikh Hamad has ordered his death squads to patrol the streets and exact revenge against anyone attempting to oppose Sheikh Hamad and his clique. In the past two months tens of innocent citizens were savagely beaten by his thugs in the streets as they prepared to stage peaceful demonstrations against the Al Khalifa dictatorship. Acts of collective punishment are well documented and international human rights organisations, such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and others have issued statements condemning these barbaric acts.The main political societies which represent the bulk of the opposition to the Al Khalifa repression have vowed to resist this law and other laws that are in the pipeline such as the Press Law, the Law of Congregation and Law 56. They closed their doors for three days in protest and held a silent march to highlight the situation. However, these humble tactics are unlikely to derail Sheikh Hamad’s programme which is intent on creating a fundamental change in Bahrain that, in his own calculation, would remove any serious threat to the rule of his family. He had been bogged down by the accusation that he heads a minority rule at a time when the world is moving towards representative forms of governments supported by popular consensus. The minority rule had been supported by the British government since 1820 in the same way as Britain’s propping up of minority rule in Rhodesia, South Africa and Iraq. Despite the sour experience and black history of this policy, London seems intent on supporting the minority rule of the Al Khalifa, including their policy of ethnic cleansing of the Shia majority. The Bahraini opposition has repeatedly condemned any act of terror, especially those committed recently in UK. They like to remind the American and British governments that the existence of absolute hereditary dictatorships like that of the Al Khalifa is a major factor in the emergence of terrorism, extremism and fanaticism. It is not enough to speak of the need to democratise the Middle East. In fact, these speeches and calls remain hollow and appear hypocritical when the ruler of Bahrain is received by the British or American governments and hailed as a democrat as his thugs continue to whip the backs of the pro-democracy activists in Manama. How could a hereditary dictatorship be branded as democratic when its prime minister had been in his post for 35 years? Where are the notions of democracy, pluralism, the rule of law and the right of the people to choose their government and determine their own destiny? This is a cry from the people of Bahrain to the outside world to stop hypocritical policies and support democracy and respect of human rights in their country. That is a major factor in the war against terrorism that has become the evil of our times.Bahrain Freedom Movement

29 July 2005

Bahrain’s growing unemployment problem The al-Khalifa regime ruling over Bahrain is finding it difficult to deny the existence of jobless problem in the country. In fact, the unemployment challenge is increasingly becoming the most daunting economic debacle, thereby raising questions about the effectiveness of the government’s economic management. Khalifa bin Salman continues to serve as the state’s only premier since independence from Britain in 1971. Recently, the Ministry of Labour adopted findings of a study on unemployment carried out by Bahrain Centre for Studies and Research. The report revealed that as many as 20,199 Bahraini nationals are jobless. This represents a 14 percent jobless rate. The number of Bahraini workforce stands at 143,300. In reality the number of unemployed citizens is higher.The disproportionate presence of foreign workers partly explains this extraordinary unemployment rate amongst locals. Expatriates comprise 193,100 or more than 57 percent of total labour force. Undoubtedly, no government that respects itself extends employment opportunities for such a large number of foreign nationals at a time when locals could not find jobs. International laws do not require countries to open up their borders for the movement of foreign workers. For instance, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) advocates removing restrictions on goods and services but stops short of human resources. Still, the actual number of foreign workers in Bahrain is believed to be higher by taking into account the number of expatriates whom the regime had granted Bahraini citizenship over the past years. While the exact number is not fully known, it is widely accepted that the authorities have bestowed full Bahraini citizenship over tens od thousands of foreign nationals from a number of countries in the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent. These people work in the security apparatuses such as the ministries of Defence, Interior, National Guard and the National Security Agency. The al-Khalifa regime feels that they can trust foreign nationals more than Bahraini citizens when it comes to working in security services. The regime feels has no choice but to acknowledge the unemployment in the light of growing public outcry to deal with its onsequences. While admitting the jobless problem, the authorities seem not prepared to deal with the fallout of the dilemma. More recently, security forces were ordered to assault unemployed protestors demanding jobs. The Bahraini constitution stipulates that it is the government’s duty to find suitable occupations for citizens. Over the last few weeks, the authorities called upon anti-riot police to use force to disperse demonstrators demanding solutions to their unemployment misery. In the event, a number of protestors required treatment at hospitals for injuries sustained while engaging in peaceful rallies. Strangely enough, officials fail to comprehend that it was the protests by the unemployed that kicked off the popular uprising that engulfed the country in the mid 1990s. Possibly, history is bound to repeat itself in Bahrain. Undoubtedly, the regime has only itself to blame.Bahrain Freedom Movement

21 July 2005

Bahrain: Investigate Police Beatings Attack Follows Decrees Closing Political Society, Independent Rights Center (Washington, July 22, 2005) — The Bahraini government should immediately investigate security personnel who severely beat people assembling to monitor or participate in a demonstration, Human Rights Watch said today.The attack occurred on July 15 when police moved to prevent people from gathering to protest the state budget for 2005-2006, just passed by the National Assembly. The organizers of the protest claimed that the measure failed to include provisions for unemployed workers. Unemployment is a major problem in Bahrain. Among those attacked and injured by police were prominent human rights activists `Abd al-Hadi al-Khawaja and Nabeel Rajab, president and vice-president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights respectively, and labor rights activist `Abbas al-`Umran. Rajab told Human Rights Watch that at least 30 persons required hospital treatment for injuries they had sustained. “Bahrain has been a poster child for political reform in the Middle East, but police attacks like this one are a worrisome trend,” said Joe Stork, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East division. “Bahrain is growing more repressive in response to peaceful political activism.” Rajab told Human Rights Watch that he was part of a group of 10 men and five women who had come to monitor the planned march from Manama’s Al-Fatah mosque to the National Assembly building some two kilometers away. He said police attacked them before protesters had assembled. “I approached one officer in charge, Salah Abu Ghais, and told him we were there to monitor the demonstrators and the police,” Rajab said. I asked him to let us know if they felt the need to make any arrests. “I did not come to arrest anybody,” he said. Then he told the men with him to “look after them”—meaning us. They pulled black masks over their faces and started hitting us with their batons. They knew who we were. They knew my name. The police made no arrests in connection with the demonstration. Rajab said that the Public Committee of the Unemployed, the sponsors of the planned demonstration, had earlier notified the authorities of their plans. The committee received no direct response, but the authorities let it be known in remarks to the press, mostly government-controlled, that the demonstration would not be allowed. Another eyewitness told Human Rights Watch that he was passing the scene in a car and took photos of the police attacking the group of monitors. He said the police then stopped the car and confiscated the camera. This person told Human Rights Watch that when he returned to the scene a few minutes later he saw about 10 police pull open the doors of a car, pull out the occupants and beat them with batons. Hassan `Abd al-Nabi, an activist with the Public Committee for the Unemployed, told Human Rights Watch that security forces pulled him and others from a car as they approached the demonstration assembly point, beat them with batons, and told them to leave the area and not return. `Abd al-Nabi said he and his companions subsequently filed complaints with the Public Prosecutor. The next day, he said, a plainclothes security officer approached him as he was leaving his home and asked him to come with him. When `Abd al-Nabi declined, the man forced him into an unmarked black GMC van, where he was hooded and driven to an unknown location. There, he said, several officers beat him and threatened further harm if he continued his activities with the committee. They then dropped him off on a main road. After visiting a hospital for treatment, he returned home to find that the premises had been searched and trashed. In recent months, the government has taken measures to halt the activities of several organizations critical of government policies. On July 4, the government suspended for 45 days the Islamic Action Society, a legally recognized group, after speakers at a public event sponsored by the society the previous week made remarks critical of the government. In September 2004, the government ordered the closure of the independent Bahrain Center for Human Rights, after `Abd al-Hadi al-Khawaja, the group’s president, publicly criticized Prime Minister Khalifa Al Khalifa. In early June, Social Affairs Minister Fatima al-Balushi told the press that she had written to the Public Prosecutor to urge legal action against al-Khawaja and Rajab, who continued to organize activities using the Center’s name. From:

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Tens of Bahrainis wounded by Al Khalifa policeA massive aggressive attack on peaceful demonstrators in Manama this afternoon has cause tens of injuries, some of which are very serious. Bahrain’s dictator, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, gave the orders to security forces to launch the attack as the demonstrators were preparing for the march to demand jobs for the unemployed. The Al Khalifa mercenaries used utmost aggression against the innocent Bahrainis causing grave injuries. At least one of the demonstrators, Mr Hassan Al Sari, is believed to have been taken to the Intensive Care Unit at Salmaniya Hospital.Among the seriously wounded is Abdul Hadi Al Khawaja who was targeted for severe beating and merciless attack. The wounds on his back indicated that he was personally targeted for his relentless efforts to expose the atrocities committed by the Al Khalifa against the people. Unconfirmed reports have spoken of a decision by the Al Khalifa to liquidate some elements in ways that could not be detected. The Al Khalifa has been waging a war against the majority Shia population to deny them peaceful existence, and has been engaged in mass naturalisation of foreigners in order to make the Shia a minority. The people of Bahrain appeal to the international community to intervene to stop this aggression against the natives of the country. The existence of these natives is under threat unless serious efforts are taken to stop Sheikh Hamad from his murderous campaign.To view the wounded please visit: Freedom Movement

15th July 2005

Bahrainis injured in clashes with police-witnesses15 Jul 2005 19:06:52 GMTSource: Reuters(Adds police chief comment, paragraphs 4-5)MANAMA, July 15 (Reuters) – At least 15 Bahrainis were injured in the capital Manama on Friday after police beat them before they could stage a demonstration over the country’s unemployment problem, witnesses said.They said baton-wielding police hit dozens of people who had planned to pelt the parliament building with eggs and tomatoes to show their disappointment over the way the government was dealing with unemployment in Bahrain, the least wealthy of Gulf oil producers with a history of political tension.At least 15 Bahrainis were taken to hospital with minor injuries.Police chief Eissa Abdullah al-Muslim said in a statement sent to Reuters that “the demonstration would have been illegal and illegitimate … because it wanted to violate the parliament building.”Muslim said security forces had to break up the crowd after people did not heed their order to disperse.Bahrain, a close U.S. ally and headquarters of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, has said it would launch a 30 million dinar ($80 million) a year training programme next year to help tackle unemployment which economists put at 20 percent.

Bahrain’s king this month warned against staging demonstrations against high unemployment, saying this would deepen the problem. He made his remarks days after clashes between police and demonstrators demanding jobs, in which both sides reported injuries. ($1=0.3770 dinar)

Bahrain: Solidarity with victims of terrorismThe people of Bahrain have, by various means, expressed their solidarity with the victims of the London terrorist bombings and their families. First the preachers condemned the terrorist acts and called for an end to extremism, fanaticism and despotism. Second, several organisations, including the Bahrain Freedom Movement, issued statements denouncing the crimes committed against the innocent people in London, as well as those killed by terrorist groups in Iraq and Pakistan. Third they participated in a candle-lit vigil on Sunday evening near the British Embassy. The participants expressed their sorrow and abhorrence of terrorism.The Bahraini opposition have repeatedly warned of the dangers of allowing the status quo in the Middle East which is dominated by absolute dictatorship that provided a suitable environment for extremism that, in some cases, led to terrorism. They have appealed to the world community to take action to change the situation by supporting democratic movements and curtailing the excesses of despotic regimes such as the Al Khalifa who have ruled Bahrain with terror for the past two centuries. It was the moderate policies of the opposition that prevented the emergence of terrorism and extremism in this Gulf island. It is the policies of this despotic family that is creating the environment for extremism. Their policy of sectarian naturalisation has resulted in some terrorists obtaining the Bahraini passport that enabled them to carry out their heinous acts undetected. They have concentrated their naturalisation project in areas known as a breeding ground for extremism and terrorism.In recent weeks the people of Bahrain have witnessed more acts of state vandalism and repression. First came the erection of the Bahraini version of “Berlin Wall”. The wall was built by the cousins of the present ruler in Al Malikiyya village to separate the villagers from the coastline, thus denying fishermen from entry to their only inlet into the sea. The people reacted angrily, took their own tools and demolished parts of the wall which was built illegally and in defiance to their wishes. The reaction of the Al Khalifa was furious. The notorious torturer, Abdul Aziz Atiyyat Allah Al Khalifah, summoned Mr Hassan Mushaime’, the Vice-President of the Al Wefaq Society, and warned him against taking part in public demonstrations and actions that are not in line with the wishes of the Al Khalifa. Mr Mushaime’, on his part, replied in firm terms against the torturer, blaming the Al Khalifa for their sectarian and racist policies.Then came the closure of the Islamic Action Society by the Al Khalifa. The reason was the criticism expressed by a speaker in a seminar organised by the Society, in which he denounced the Al Khalifa financial corruption and political despotism. The Society has now been closed for 45 days. A further example of the sectarian policies of the Al Khalifa is evident from their decision to stop any Shia citizen from working as local correspondents for foreign news media. Mahdi Rabi’, the local correspondent of the London-based Al Hayat newspaper, was summoned on the orders of the Al Khalifa and told that his accreditation as a correspondent to the newspaper had been revoked. This followed the refusal by the Al Khalifa to allow Ahmad Radhi and Ramla Jawad from working for foreign TV channels. In the nineties, Ismat Al Mosawi, the BBC correspondent, was stopped by the Al Khalifa from working for the Arabic section of the BBC. It has now become a central policy of the Al Khalifa not to allow Shia to speak out to the outside world, whether as journalists or as activists. Three months ago, Dr Abdul Jalil Al Singace, the head of section at the Mechanical Department, University of Bahrain, was demoted from his position following his visits to UK and USA in which he spoke of the oppression being orchestrated by the Al Khalifa against the majority Shia. He has recently published a lengthy report, supported by facts and figures, in which he exposed the extent to which this process has gone. More than 150,000 non-Bahrainis have been naturalised and the demographic balance may have now been permanently altered.The people of Bahrain have repeatedly appealed to the international community and especially the United Nations to intervene and stop the policy of ethnocide.Bahrain Freedom Movement

11th July 2005

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