Peter Clifford

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BAHRAIN’s Medieval Rulers Lurch Further to the Right:





TIMELINE – 7th MAY 2012 12.35 GMT:

In what appears to be another lurch further towards the right, Bahrain’s oligarchy (rule by the few) has charged Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), with “inciting illegal rallies and marches online by using social networking websites” and posting “defamatory and humiliating depictions of the public security forces”.

Nabeel Rajab - BCHR

In other words, it is no longer safe to express your personal views on anything in Bahrain on Twitter unless you are a supporter of the government and opposed to the Opposition.

As Marc Owen Jones has pointed out in his recent blog post  the BICI report mentioned the Twitter account @7areghum which last year during the disturbances openly targeted Opposition supporters, naming them personally and even revealing their whereabouts, but of course nothing was done. Anything that damages the Opposition is fine by the Bahrain Government apparently.

But Nabeel Rajab is guilty, before trial, according to the Public Prosecutor of “cyber-incitement [which] proved detrimental as [it] fuelled rioting, road blocking, arsons, acts of sabotage targeting public and private properties, in addition to the use of Molotov cocktail incendiary bombs.

The inquiry has also revealed compelling evidence on the defendant’s role in instigating, online, acts targeting policemen whilst on duty, leaving some of them injured”.

Rajab, Current Holder of Ion Ratiu Democracy Award

EDITOR: To the best of my knowledge, Nabeel Rajab, has never advocated violence as a solution to Bahrain’s problems but has only encouraged peaceful demonstration.

That others may have taken advantage of that is another matter.

Nor would Rajab and the BCHR have received numerous international awards if they were suspected of promoting violence or sectarian warfare.

I don’t see the Bahrain Government getting too many international awards for its “benign and enligtened” attitudes.

According to the Bahrain News Agency (BNA)  Nabeel Rajab “admitted posting the defamatory and humiliating material on his account” yet at the same time “refusing, however, to answer detailed questions”.

Nabeel has refused to answer further questions apparently as “he does not recognise the court” and has been remanded in custody until the next court appearance on May 22nd.

You can support Nabeel Rajab by signing this petition at Change.Org, HERE: and getting all your friends to sign to.


Combine the above with a statement from the Prime Minister, Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, at his weekly Cabinet meeting that “the persistence of some speechmakers in exploiting religious platforms for political purposes and their adopting of techniques aimed at provocation of violence and sectarianism and their calls for breach of law, abuse of constitutional institutions …. etc”. –

A Cabinet of Hardliners Led By "Prince Grim" - BNA

EDITOR: (Yes, their pronouncements get tedious, I know)  – It is beginning to look like that all Opposition leaders are now clearly under attack.

Undoubtedly, leading cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim is in their sights.

Once again, Bahrain’s hardliners are on the ascendant.

Having isolated Adbulhadi AlKhawaja and 14 other Opposition leaders with imprisonment and prolonged and repeated trials, having ousted the well educated and articulate medics from their jobs and tied them up with weekly court appearances, having jailed internationally known high profile leaders like Zainab AlKhawaja and Nabeel Rajab and strictly controlled who is and isn’t allowed into the country, no doubt the Al Khalifas and their supporters are hoping that a “leaderless” Opposition will crumble.

EDITOR: I predict they are in for a big disappointment.

Over and over, Bahrain’s Opposition has made the point that this is not a sectarian struggle but a genuine one for human rights and democracy in Bahrain. With the F1 debacle, even the most sceptical Western observer must now be aware of what is really going on (well, perhaps not the delusional Bernie, but he’s a lost cause!).

Unless they release the imprisoned Opposition leaders and have a proper negotiation with them leading to democratic government, there is not a “cat in hell’s”  chance of peace in Bahrain.


Frankly, the Saudis, the Al Khalifas and all the autocratic monarchies in the Gulf think that they can continue to control, manipulate and consolidate their power for their own sectarian and self-serving familial ends. But suppression and more suppression induces resistance and ultimately more resistance, that is natural law.


Bahrain Protests to Continue - Sumood

In the 21st century resistance is aided by 21st century technology and immediacy.

However long it takes, the Al Khalifas’ dictatorship is doomed to failure and for every Opposition leader they remove another half a dozen, media and technology savvy younger leaders will step into their shoes.

Take heart suppressed people of Bahrain and all those others across the Gulf, I and other human rights activists and organisations will continue to support you, however long it takes.”Sumood” (Endurance).

Democracy in Bahrain "Hung Out to Dry" - Courtesy @CarlosLatuff

BAHRAIN – News: Constitutional Amendments: Al Khalifa Family 5 – Democracy 0





TIMELINE – 13.35. GMT:

In another frenzy of self-congratulation the prominent members of Bahrain’s ruling Al-Khalifa family yesterday “hailed” and “lauded” the approval of “constitutional amendments” following a long-winded speech by king Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa at a ceremony in Manama, the capital, on Thursday.

In the speech, which was big on meaningless rhetoric and short on meaningful content, the king burbled on about ” a qualitative leap” and the “National Action Charter, which garnered overwhelming popular support, and almost unanimous consensus”.          Picture: King Still Hiding From Democracy.

(Just one small problem in that almost 70% of the population does not support it! But we will overlook that, obviously maths is not the king’s strong point)

“As history has proven, citizenship, unity, and participation are the pillars of the reform and development march”, the king rambles on, “Thus, the doors for dialogue are wide open, and national consensus our ultimate aim”.

“These constitutional amendments, through the participation of the legislative power in consolidating its role to oversee the government’s performance, and …..” EDITOR: Actually I can’t repeat any more of this.  If you are into sado-masochistic torture you can read the full text, HERE:

In essence the “constitutional amendments” rule that the king now has to consult the heads of the elected parliament and the appointed Shura Council before dissolving the legislature. 

Additionally, the elected House of Representatives alone now has the right to vote to withhold its cooperation from the prime minister and refer its decision to the king – who then has the final choice on whether to dismiss the premier or keep him in post.

In other words, there is no significant change in the ultimate power of the king, who can still choose to ignore what everyone else says.


Culture Minister Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al-Khalifa, clearly having drunk vast quantities of the Government’s strangely contaminated water supply, gushed that “Bahrain witnesses a ‘golden phase’ of its history in the prosperous era of HM King Hamad”. and went on to describe the crisis over the last 12 months “as a catalyst to achieve greater success”.

While the Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ali Al-Khalifa (EDITOR: “Mr Smirky” to his “friends”) described the “new-look constitution” as representing a “quantum leap which will anchor reforms and bolster Bahrain’s fledgling democracy”.

The Opposition parties were less impressed. “The king remains the one to appoint and dismiss the government,” said Abdul Jalil Khalil, a member of the main Opposition group Al-Wefaq.

The opposition wants he continued “a single-chamber parliament that is elected, just as the constitution of 1973 stipulated. These amendments do not abolish the consultative (Shura) council,” he added.

All the members of the Shura Council, or upper house, are appointed or approved by the King, consolidating his power in a chamber that has to sanction the decisions of the lower elected parliament.

The consultative council was introduced in 2002, as part of a new constitution which turned Bahrain from an emirate into a kingdom. It was dismissed by the Opposition as a manoeuvre by the king to control parliament.

Thousands of Opposition supporters took to the streets of Bahrain on Friday to demonstrate their lack of support for the amendments.

“I am Bahraini and dictatorship does not represent me,” said one banner summing up the continued lack of confidence in a system that claims to be “democratic” but remains firmly autocratic and suppressive.  There is a video of Friday’s protest march, Here:


Anticipating the largely superficial reforms, Maryam AlKhawaja, Foreign Affairs spokeswoman for the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, said in an interview with Al Jazeera that as a human rights activist, stopping the nightly tear-gassing of families and their children in their homes is much more important than minor changes to the constitution.

Asked about the “retrial” of her Father, Abdulhadi AlKhawaja, now on the 87th day of his “Freedom or Death” hunger strike, and 19 other pro-democracy activists, Maryam said it was an “appeal” rather than a “retrial”, which made a huge difference, and given the lack of the judicial independence, with a result determined by members of the royal family, the outcome was unlikely to be fair.  You can see full video interview, HERE:

Another Young Boy Riddled With Shotgun Pellets This Week

The irrelevance of the “constitutional amendments” is also illustrated by the police’s continued use of shotguns, injuring protesters seriously on a daily basis.  Most do not got to hospital for fear of arrest.

And meanwhile, as if to demonstrate the “fairness” of Bahrain’s judicial system, the Juvenile Court remanded two 13 year olds to stay in custody for a further 7 days after they were arrested last week accused of taking part in “an illegal assembly and riots”.

Marks of Police Beating On 13 Year Old Yasin Sherber - BCHR

The 2 young boys,Yasin Abduljalil Sheber and Abdulkarim Hasan, appeared before judges for the second time yesterday since their arrest the previous Friday.

Defence lawyers said Sheber had been beaten after his arrest in Hamad Town following a protest and Hasan, who was arrested in the village of Shahrakkan, had been “beaten with batons” and constantly referred to in questioning as a “son of Iran”.

Hasan was also accused of “carrying a petrol bomb” and Sheber of “assaulting a policeman and tearing his shirt”, leading to the cartoon below depicting a burly policeman bawling his eyes out and the judge offering him tissues, after he was “roughed up” by a 13 year old!


Policeman Complains After "Assault" by 13 Year Old - Courtesy Ali Bazzaz

BAHRAIN – News: King Hamad Cracks Jokes About “Press Freedom” in Bahrain



TIMELINE – 3rd MAY 2012 11.49 GMT:

EDITOR: For a moment I thought it was April 1st, April Fool’s Day, when I read the Bahrain News Agency (BNA) report of King Hamad’s speech on the eve of today’s International Press Freedom Day. But no, it is May 3rd.

Frankly, I don’t know how the leader of one of most repressive regimes in the world, especially in terms of freedom of expression, has the neck to publicly make the speech he has just given about Press Freedom in Bahrain.

Gulf "Royalty" Having a Laugh About Press Freedom

On the 2012 Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index Bahrain ranks at 173 just ahead of such fine bed-fellows as China, Iran, Syria, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bottom placed Eritrea at 179!

Reporters Without Borders even lists King Hamad as a one of its more than 40 “Predators of Freedom of Information”.

Yet, says King Hamad, “We are delighted on the occasion of the international day for freedom of the press to convey our utmost compliment and appreciation to the press and media family in the Kingdom of Bahrain for their sincere efforts in developing the spirit of citizenship, conslidating (sic) the values of freedom, democracy and human rights and supporting reform plans and comprehensive susainable (sic) development”.

(BNA’s translators should be banished to the Arabian desert with a set of English Language books until they properly master the art if they are going to publish this stuff for international consumption – but that’s another story! I digress)

“We emphasize,” the King burbles on, “Our pride in pioneers of Bahraini journalism who took on their shoulders the task of construction of modern Bahraini media on foundations of diversity, mulitiplicity (sic) and credibility, and we appreciate objective free writers and honest genuine patriotic voices and creative media cadres who placed the Kingdom of Bahrain’s interest, progress and prosperity above any material, ideological or sectarian consideations (sic)”.

(I think the English dictionary they are using is the one they found when the Al Khalifa’s arrived in 1783! Sorry, the translation is so constipated it is not true!)

Press Freedom in Bahrain in Action 2011

And then comes the King’s best joke… “There should be no tampering with the right of Bahraini citizens in expressing their opinions, nor any celings (sic) put on their freedoms or creativity apart from professional consciousness, national and ethical responsbilitiies (sic) and observance of the people’s unity and national interest in compliance with the Constitution and the Law”.

In other words we will protect your right to say what ever you want as long as you agree with us!  That’s a pretty rotten basis for a “democracy”.

It gets worse …… “We are fully and constantly supportive of the rights of journalists, writers and media personnel and organizations as they carry out their noble mission without any threat or molestation. We do not and will not tolerate throughout our reign any insulting, arresting or jailing of a journalist as a result of exercising her/his legal and constitutional right of free expression”.

Well, your majesty, try telling that:

  • To the bloggers and journalists still held in your prisons…
  • To the families of the opposition newspaper publisher who mysteriously died in police custody and the family of the young citizen journalist recently killed while peaceful filming a protest…..
  • To the young poetess who was imprisoned for reading out a poem perceived as critical of yourself, the King ….
  • To the mother who was imprisoned for playing music the police did not like on her car CD player….
  • To all the journalists who lost their jobs as a result of your policies…
  • To the brave local photographers who get threatened by the police almost every time they take a picture ….
  • To the TV station employees whose satellite broadcasts to Bahrain were jammed by your Government…

    Say Whatever You Want As Long As You Keep It To Yourself

    To all the people who would like to start a newspaper or radio or TV station that might be critical of the Government but will never get a licence …

  • To all the international journalists that have been refused entry into Bahrain when it suits you or deported because you were terrified that they might discover what is really going on ….
  • To all the citizens of Bahrain who would like a free, unencumbered platform in Bahrain to read, write or publish what the think about anything they choose ….
  • To all those who would like to access the more than 1,000 legitimate websites that you prevent your citizens viewing on the Internet ….
  • And, most of all, to all those who have been beaten, tortured and incarcerated for saying things that the paranoid Al Khalifa family does not want to hear.

Lastly, the King has the temerity to complain about “Bahrain’s unfair treatment in the media”.

“It is quite clear that the Kingdom of Bahrain has been targeted by purposefull (sic), willful campaigns through some foreign media which sought to distort true facts, instigate violence, sabotage, hatred and hostility among citizens in our united nation and this contravenes against all religious teachings, moral ethics and interntional (sic) treaties and conventions as these campaigns which propgated (sic) false opinions and relied on one-sided and biased sources devoid of any accuracy and credibility and which marginalized the rest of Bahraini public opinion”.

So the many PR companies that you employ at a cost of millions of dollars around the world are not charged with distorting “true facts” then? They independently only tell the truth, reflect the reality in Bahrain?

If you did not have so much to hide, the international press would give you an easier time.

Your majesty, I offer you a challenge. If your “freedom of expression” policy is now so enlightened, publish this article on the BNA website or in the Gulf Daily News, uncensored and unabridged.

Until then, I for one will continue publishing comment on your distorted, badly written drivel to ensure that the world knows what is really happening in Bahrain and to prevent the truth being swept under the carpet.

If you can stand reading the full text of the King’s meaningless, badly translated burble, you can read it HERE:

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