Monarchy or ownership of a nationPolitical change confined within rhetoric talk seldom leads to successful conclusions. Rather, it reinforces the continuity of an existing corrupt system. A genuine change or reform however reflects on almost all aspects of life and in particular the governing system. It offers a relationship between the government and its people moderated through rules and regulations and based on trust and confidence.The derailed reforms project in Bahrain has failed to address this aspect. More precisely, it has chosen not address it. The political system continued with the same perceptions, attitudes and approaches to national issues, always perceiving the people as a competitor and a source of threat.The alleged constitutional monarchy is now as far as it can ever be from a genuine constitutional monarchy known to people around the world. The term “reign but does not rule” that describes a royal family in such monarchies seems to be foreign to the culture of the family ruling Bahrain.The recent public seminar that addresses the privileges of this family revealed astonishing figures implicating the members of the AL Khalifa family, and in particular the Primes Minister, of serious blundering of the country’s wealth through strongly entrenched corruption circles.What the seminar has shown is that the privileges enjoyed by the family and those associated with it are now part of the law. It is a well established now that the laws enacted in the past bear significant discrimination against women and against the people in general, thus diminishing justice and equality amongst citizens. The figures showed that while women form 49% of the population, they occupy on 7% of managerial positions in the government.The figures also spoke of outrageous discrimination practices against the people, where the majority of the sensitive positions in the government are held by members of the Al Khalifa family, depriving citizens of such positions even when possessing higher qualifications. The speakers also spoke of how the Al Khalifa family gradually increased their ownership of land through confiscation since the 19th century. Now the family owns more than half of the country. The Al Khalifa family has allocated large percentages of national income for its members since the beginning of the last century. This continues until today.The political system designed by the AL Khalifa family hinges on sex and racial discrimination, complete grip on power, endless privileges for the family members and their associates and an impotent “democracy”. Such policies and practices are in complete contradiction with the constitutional monarchy that Sh Hamad has been trying to market. On the ground, it is obvious that the family intends to own the country and the nation.Bahrain Freedom Movement
29 October 2003
Mismanagement of the Sitra incidentThe regime has demonstrated its inability to rule judging by the way it has reacted to the Sitra incident. The alleged event took place in early October and involved an assault on a security vehicle, which injured several policemen of foreign origin.At the onset, the authorities had attributed the attack to emotional speeches made by religious scholars without producing evidence to substantiate their claim. In fact, only hours prior to the alleged attack on police vehicle, the area close to scene of the crime had witnessed a commemoration of the Palestinian uprising. The regime suggested a possible connection between the speeches during the function and the subsequent attack. But many observers doubted that the speeches could have such a quick effect. If the alleged attack had actually occurred, it must have been well organised and planned in advance. So is the case because the perpetrators had left no imprints to be traced.Some commentators suspect that incident was possibly a set up, in turn aimed at curtailing the freedom of speech. The security apparatus had been blamed for stage-managed acts especially during the years of political unrest in the 1990s. Civil unrest broke out in Bahrain in December 1994 with the aim of achieving political, economic and social reforms. In this incident, the state-controlled media had failed to produce interviews with the victims to provide detailed accounts of the assault, a clear shortcoming of public relations skills.OverreactionOn the assumption that the attack on police had actually occurred, then the regime must be blamed for further causing harm to the country. Certainly the overreaction had sent a message to would be local and international investors that Bahrain is not the ripe place for investments because of political risk.The incident revealed that the regime’s priorities are confined to political rather than economic matters. For instance, the regime had called on its mercenary writers and columnists to publish critical articles of the concept of freedom of; that these writings served to deepen the message that the country was experiencing political unrest. As far as ordinary people are concerned, unemployment remains the primary economic challenge facing the country. According to official figures, some 15,000 Bahrainis are unemployed but others put the number of jobless at 25,000.Another casualty of the government’s reaction was that of social harmony. The attack was focused on the Shiite population, who in turn comprise the majority. At least two thirds of locals adhere to the Shiite faith of Islam. It is certainly to offend the minority let alone the majority of the inhabitants.In summary, the regime’s behaviour to the Sitra event has revealed its inability to manage a relatively simple problem, as such an incident could take anywhere in the world. The authorities issued their judgment by attacking political activism prior to making comprehensive investigations. The work could have been the work of ordinary criminals. By and large, the main loser of government’s poor management has been Bahrain’s reputation as a safe businesscentre.Bahrain Freedom Movement
22 October 2003
The Gulf Cultural Club45 Chalton Street, London NW1 1HY, Tel: 020 7383 2058, Fax: 020 7387 6369Iraq: Liberation, Occupation and ImperialismBy Jeremy Corbyn, MP*6.30 pm, Thursday 23rd October 2003refreshments available from 6.00 pm, dinner 8.00 pm
* Jeremy Corbyn is Labour Member for Islington North since 1983 with a majority of 12,958 at the 2001 election, Vice Chair of Parliamentary Human Rights Group, Chair of Liberation, The Anti-Imperialist/Anti Racist Organisation, Steering Committee of Stop the War, National Council of Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). Jeremy’s national profile is based on action against poverty and in support of social security, environmental and human rights questions at home and internationally. As a member of the National Council of CND Jeremy Corbyn has spoken at and attended human rights and peace conferences including Beijing, New Delhi, and UN/Geneva. He has had significant involvement in campaigning against miscarriages of justice, e.g. Birmingham Six, Guildford Four, and Bridgewater Three. Since September 11th Jeremy has spoken at anti war meetings relentlessly in the UK and abroad. He has also attended the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva regularly.