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International community urged to stop the rape of a countryThe situation in the Gulf state of Bahrain is approaching the stage of explosion of public anger as more destructive policies of the Al Khalifa are unveiled. The latest was the announcement by the ruling family that up to 20,000 people have recently been granted Bahraini nationality. They are mainly former employees of the ministry of interior and their dependents, some of whom may have served as torturers. News also surfaced that more than 5000 of the Al Murra tribe have also been granted Bahraini nationality. They had been stripped of their Qatari nationality after being accused by the authorities of Qatar of siding with the Saudis in the coup plot against the present ruler. Over the past five years tens of thousands of foreigners, mainly from areas known for its extreme views and fanaticism were naturalised by the Al Khalifa. Since the elected parliament was dissolved in 1975, the ruling family has been ruling the country with absolute dictatorship, enacting their own laws and embarking on the most serious and destructive programme since they occupied the islands in 1783; that of political naturalisation.The Al Khalifa have, in recent years, revived the 1963 Nationality Law which regulates the granting of the Bahraini nationality. One of its clauses gives the ruler the right, in exceptional circumstances, to grant individuals the Bahraini citizenship. The exceptional has now become the rule, and probably more than 100,000 may have been naturalised by Sheikh Hamad. When the Al Khalifa Council of representatives presented some “recommendations” three months ago asking the ruling family to regulate the “exceptions” they were told openly and robustly that Sheikh Hamad was above all powers and, as such, the government could not regulate these “exceptions”. What this means is that he had been given a cart blanch to change the demography of the country without the need to refer to anyone, and without anyone having the right to question him. This is extremely dangerous and contradicts any claims of democracy and the rule of law.The native people of Bahrain are thus infuriated by these assertions and are becoming more angry and frustrated as they see foreigners unlawfully being naturalised and given all their needs of housing, social welfare and jobs while the natives are being sidelined and deprived of any of these preferential treatment. The unemployed, whose numbers could easily reach 30 percent, have been attempting to put pressure on the Al Khalifa in order to change their employment and naturalisation processes. They have petitioned the government, demonstrated in the streets and even taken their case to Sheikh Hamad’s courtyard. Instead of giving them a listening ear, Sheikh Hamad dispatched his mercenaries to beat the hungry and the dispossessed for demonstrating outside his palace. The images of the wounds sustained in this attack which took place in the middle of June, have been circulated to the outside world and caused a furore among the human rights activists and organisations. To date, none of the torturers who carried out this savagery, has been brought to account for this horrific crime. The internationally-renowned human rights activist, Abdul Hadi Al Khawaja, sustained broken teeth and bruises as he was lashed repeatedly by the Al Khalifa mercenaries with hosepipes.As the people of Bahrain prepare to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the disoolution of the elected parliament and the suspension of some articles of the only legally-binding document between the Al Khalifa and the people of Bahrain, they face two major crisis. First their struggle to achieve a degree of democracy has not yet led to the long-awaited democracy in the country. If anything, the Al Khalifa, under Sheikh Hamad, has become more repressive and less democratic. The real power are concentrated in the hands of the ruler, whose dictatorship is now endorsed by his tailor-made constitution which he imposed on the people in February 2002. The struggle to achieve real reforms is thus continuing. Several massive demonstrations have taken place in the past few months, with participants in tens of thousands taking part in expressing their views. They have shown bravery as they faced the prospects of attacks from the Al Khalifa mercenaries who have been awarded the Bahraini nationality in return for their savagery against the people of Bahrain.Second, the crisis of the country has deepened with Sheikh Hamad’s explicit policy of demographic change. The natives have now realised that they are engaged in a struggle on the basis of “to be or not to be”, i.e. they are waging a peaceful struggle to safeguard their own existence, while the rights have taken a secondary place. There is no use of political rights if the existence of the natives is denied or marginalised. Even if full democracy is introduced after the demographic change has been achieved, it will be a void democracy with no real benefits to the people. Furthermore, they feel that Sheikh Hamad’s policy of demographic change is also intended to sow the seeds of discord among the natives, Shia and Sunnis. Most of the Sunni tribes who had historically been allies of the Al Khalifa, find it extremely useful to “Bahranise” their relatives across the borders in Saudi Arabia, while the Shia, who were made up more than 80 percent in the seventies and over 70 percent when Sheikh Hamad took over, feel that they are being marginalised in the new era as more Sunnis are brought into the country. This is in the benefit of neither the Shias or the Sunnis. It could only benefit the Al Khalifa who will then claim to represent the majority. This year is thus a tragic year for the people of Bahrain, as they brace themselves to more bad news both on democratic and demographic fronts. The international community is thus urged to intervene to stop the cultural genocide of the natives of Bahrain by the Al Khalifa ruling family who had occupied the land and blundered its wealth. Silence in the face of a crime of this volume is not an option for human-loving and freedom-seeking world community. The native people of Bahrain are appealing for help, they deserve to be rescued from the pawns of these vicious rulers.Bahrain Freedom Movement

30 June 2005

After the events of Black SundayWorld Community must protect the people of BahrainThe vicious attack last Sunday on the hungry and the dispossessed by the security forces has highlighted the need for international protection of the people of Bahrain. The Al Khalifa ruling family have been subjecting the people of Bahrain to all forms of repression, including the administering of torture on detainees. This was confirmed by this week’s events and the photographs of the wounds inflicted on human rights campaigners must be taken seriously by the world community. The unemployed youth had organised a peaceful demonstration in front of the palace of Sheikh Hamad, who had declared himself a king three years ago. The few hundred Bahraini youth had loafs of bread in their hands to attract attention to their plight. Their aim was to draw the attention of Sheikh Hamad to their dire situation. Shortly after they started the demonstration, they were faced by heavily armed forces who waged a vicious attack on the unarmed youth. Many were injured on the spot, while scores were detained. It is estimated that about thirty of them were taken to torture chambers where they were severely beaten and tortured. Among them was Abdul Hadi Al Khawaja, the President of the Bahrain Society for Human Rights, whose teeth were broken during the torture sessions. His photos confirm that he had been subjected to horrific treatment by the torturers who were apparently ordered by Abdul Aziz Atiyyat Allah Al Khalifa, the head of the Al Khalifa torture apparatus. The photos of many others show clear signs of beatings on various parts of the body. Their backs show clearly marks of severe beating, while broken limbs and head wounds have reminded people of the days when the Al Khalifa administered torture at the widest level. The events of the Black Sunday have sealed the end of any hope that Sheikh Hamad would institute reforms. Since he declared himself a king, the situation has been deteriorating at an alarming rate. After imposing his tailor-made constitution and repealing the 1973 constitution, the only source of legal legitimacy of the Al Khalifa rule, he has imposed several laws to curtail public freedoms and end the calls for democracy, including the Press Law, the Law of Congregations, Law 56 (which protects torturers) and the Law of the Societies. None of these law conforms with the most basic requirement of free speech. Economic corruption has been on the increase with whole islands given to members of the Al Khalifa family (Umm Al Na’ssan, Jeda and Umm Al Subban; the last two have been given new names). Furthermore, Sheikh Hamad and his son, Sheikh Salman, have blundered the country’s coastline, and gave concessions to their cronies to reclaim sea land. The ruling family thought that their deception programme was enough to silence the people of Bahrain. Now events have proven that they are wrong. The people of Bahrain are appealing to the international community to take serious action to stop this corrupt family from pursuing its evil aims of blundering the wealth of the country, irreversibly changing its demography and humiliating its people through acts of charity, and denying them a proper constitutional democracy. They are also calling on the international human rights organisations to intervene immediately to stop torture, support human rights activists and demand an immediate impartial investigation into the crimes committed by the Al Khalifa ruling family against the hungry demonstrators on Sunday 19th June 2005. Bahrain Freedom Movement

21 June 2005

A Vicious Attack on the Unemployed The scene yesterday in Riffa was a stark example of the unchanged brutality of the police force in Bahrain and an undisputed evidence of the continued suspicious and non-trusting mentality of the Government. In a part of a series of peaceful demonstrations in the country over the past few months, the unemployed, joined by human rights activists and politicians, marched from the Riffa roundabout towards the royal court in order to express their grievances and show their deprivation in the oil rich country. Soon after the start of the demonstration, the riot police backed by secret agents in civilian clothes launched a brutal attack on the demonstrators inflicting heavy injuries on a number of them and arresting an estimated 30 demonstrators. The news coming from inside the detention centers speak of torture in the form of severe beating, while few of the demonstrators were taken to two hospitals after suffering from heavy injuries at the attack site. One of the demonstrators was run down by a police car and left in place, he was then taken to hospital by his colleagues. This attack was preceded by a propaganda campaign by the state-owned newspapers, which described the previous demonstrations as illegal acts instigating violence and disrupting traffic. The attack is seen as yet another demonstration by the Al Khalifa of their unwillingness to listen to the people’s sufferings or tolerate the freedom of expression in the country. The failure of the ruling family to respond to the demands of the unemployed and bring about well-planned and serious policies and moves to resolve their problems is exacerbating the situation. The people of Bahrain do not intend to stop their activities until the problem of the unemployed is fairly and justly attended to.Bahrain Freedom Movement

20 June 2005

More scrutiny of the Al Khalifa by world communityThe internationalising of the case of the Bahraini people has taken a leap forward. Last month, two significant developments took place. First came the report by the International Crisis Group which scrutinised the Al Khalifa for their policies of demographic change and called for an immediate halt to this illegal process. Then came the adoption by the Commission of the Convention Against Torture (CAT) of significant recommendations against the Al Khalifa ruling family for protecting torturers. These two new steps by the international community have added urgency to the Bahraini and supplemented to the earlier recommendations adopted last March by the Commission Against All Forms of Discrimination condemning the Al Khalifa for their institutionalised discrimination against the majority Shia population. The case has thus taken new dimensions on the international arena and could prove to be a serious threat to the long-term relations between the people of Bahrain and the Al Khalifa rulers.First came the debacle of the Al Khalifa dictatorship last March when they tried to continue their deception policies by denying their institutionalised discrimination against the Shia, who are the natives of the land. The Commission Against All Forms of Discrimination rejected their claims outright and adopted the recommendations of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights. The Al Khalifa are now duty-bound to provide the international community with detailed information as to the composition of the country, the distribution of high offices and general treatment of the Shia. It was a fiasco for the Al Khalifa who recruited some mercenaries to assist them in presenting a false image of the reality. Second came the report of the International Crisis Group which, again, detailed the demographic crisis caused by the decision of the Al Khalifa to change the balance through a process of naturalisation that violated the laws and logic. Sheikh Hamad has been distributing the Bahraini nationalities among tribal allies in various countries in order to cause a fundamental change in the population balance. He issued decrees to “legalise” this crime and adopted an ancient law which his family imposed in 1963 that gave him power to give Bahraini nationality to anyone he wished. That is an affront to civilised behaviour and a clear attempt to change the historical balance in the country. His aim is to become representative of a majority created by naturalisation.Third, came in May when the Commission responsible for the administration of CAT decided to review the case of Bahrain. To its astonishment, the Al Khalifa chose to adopt a rhetorical language and ignored the requests of the Commission to provide detailed accounts of whether anti-torture laws have been ratified, whether torture victims rehabilitated or whether torturers brought to account for their crimes. The case has now become more complicated as the Al Khalifa attempt to regain the initiative which they have lost to Bahraini human rights (BCHR) activists. For over four years, they have attempted to “nationalise” every aspect of the civil life by forcing activists to operate within their laws. The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights has opted out of these regulations after the decision by the Al Khalifa to dissolve it. The Al Khalifa-appointed minister of social affairs went as far as accusing the BCHR of committing a crime for participating in the proceedings of the UN Human Rights subcommissions in Geneva and has threatened to put participants on trial. The Al Khalifa will fail. Despite their attempts to come to terms with regional and international developments, they have hitherto failed to live up to the expectations of the international community with regards to freedom and democracy. They still insist on imposing their laws and curtailing the freedom of the individuals and groups. This is against the spirit of democracy and freedom. The main principle is that every individual is free to act, speak and operate within acceptable norms, without jeopardising public security or threatening social order. This is contradictory to the tribal paradigm that every activity must be sanctioned by the government otherwise it is considered illegal. It needs a long time for these antiquated regimes to adapt to the realities of the new world which offer people the freedom to choose their own government in accordance with the principle of the right of people to decide their own destiny.The crisis surrounding the rule of the Al Khalifa is taking new dimensions as disenchanted citizens opt out of their system. They are defying the laws imposed by the ruling family and acting in accordance to international laws and conventions, adopting civil means and peaceful tactics. In addition to the victims of torture, the unemployed are marching through the streets of Manama demanding jobs and refusing by the orders given by former torturers such as the notorious Abdul Aziz Atiyyat Allah Al Khalifa who was promoted by Sheikh Hamad to head the National Security apparatus. Nothing is known about this system but it is believed that it has in its employment most of the torturers whose punishment is sought by their victims, but are protected by the ruling family.The civil movement in Bahrain is adopting new ways of exposing their plight to the outside world. On its part, the Al Khalifa family is blundering the country’s wealth on deception and employment of international experts to prop up their fledgling policies. Sources at the UN Commission of Human Rights have confirmed that the reports presented by the Al Khalifa to the various bodies had been written by hired experts who would have charged large sums of money. The country’s wealth is exploited by the Al Khalifa to counter the people’s complaints to the international bodies, while most of the citizens live under the poverty line. It is a shameful episode in a region which is envied for its enormous oil wealth. In light of these facts, the world community is now duty bound to take strong stands against this dictatorship, resist the ethnic cleansing in Bahrain and support its people to achieve a degree of civility in the form of democratic practices within an agreed constitutional framework. Torturers must not be allowed to enjoy the protection of the state and the rule of law must be upheld. Without these, the region could again become less stable and more volatile.Bahrain Freedom Movement

3 June 2005

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