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



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BAHRAIN CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS: AL KHALIFA FAMILY 5 – DEMOCRACY 0:

CULTURE MINISTER GUSHES ABOUT A “GOLDEN PHASE” AND “MR. SMIRKY” SAYS ITS A “QUANTUM LEAP”:

CONSTITUTIONAL REFORMS? MEANINGLESS WHILE BEATINGS, ABUSE AND TEAR-GASSING CONTINUE ON A DAILY BASIS:

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.http://www.petercliffordonline.com/democracy-0

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 GUSHES ABOUT A “GOLDEN PHASE” AND “MR. SMIRKY” SAYS ITS A “QUANTUM LEAP”:

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”.http://www.petercliffordonline.com/democracy-0

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:

CONSTITUTIONAL REFORMS? MEANINGLESS WHILE BEATINGS, ABUSE AND TEAR-GASSING CONTINUE ON A DAILY BASIS:

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:

http://www.petercliffordonline.com/democracy-0

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”.

http://www.petercliffordonline.com/democracy-0

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!

http://www.petercliffordonline/democracy-0

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

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



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KING HAMAD CRACKS HYSTERICAL 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.

http://www.petercliffordonlien.com/hamad-jokes

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!)

http://www.petercliffordonline.com/hamad-jokes

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…
    http://www.petercliffordonline.com/hamad-jokes

    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?http://www.petercliffordonline.com/hamad-jokes

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: http://www.petercliffordonlien.com/hamad-jokes


BAHRAIN – News: Twisted Legal System Continues Courtroom Farce

BAHRAIN’S TWISTED LEGAL SYSTEM CONTINUES COURT FARCE WITH A “RETRIAL” OF ALKHAWAJA AND 20 OTHERS:

BAHRAIN GOVERNMENT CLAIM ALKHAWAJA “NOT FORCE-FED” – HOW COULD HE BE ALIVE AFTER FASTING 83 DAYS OTHERWISE?:

TORTURE, BEATINGS AND ABUSE BY THE AL KHALIFA POLICE CONTINUE IN “UNOFFICIAL LOCATIONS” SAYS HRW:

BAHRAIN FOREIGN MINISTER INCITES FOLLOWERS TO VOTE FOR TV FILM – APPARENTLY THOUGHT “BAFTA” WAS A FOOD EATING AWARD:

TIMELINE – 1st MAY 2012 12.25 GMT:

Following international pressure, particularly over the case of Abdulhadi AlKhawaja, Bahrain’s Al Khalifa family run Government yesterday announced via the Court of Cassation that all 21 defendants convicted last year in a military court of “plotting against the monarchy”, would be sent for retrial in a civilian court.

Eight of the defendants, including AlKhawaja, had previously been sentenced to life imprisonment and 7 of the defendants were given long sentences in absentia. The 14 who have been held in prison since their arrest in the Spring of 2011 will not be released pending  retrial.

http://www.petercliffordonline.com/bafta-burp

Support for AlKhawaja Unrelenting

A entirely new trial with prosecution and defence witnesses will take place, meaning effectively that the Bahrain Government has found just another way of keeping them in prison while at the same time pretending to the world that it is “listening” and “reforming its legal system”.

However, the Al Khalifa Government has “pulled the wool” over the eyes of the international community too many times to be taken seriously and therefore any of its “good” actions in regards to the Opposition will be regarded skeptically.

Sayed Hadi al-Mousawi, a spokesman for the Opposition Wefaq Party, said, “This ruling is just a step in the right direction, but the street will not calm down until all the prisoners are freed. This is just a part of it”.

http://www.petercliffordonline.com/bafta-burp

Khadija & Zainab AlKhawaja

Khadija al-Mousawi, AlKhawaja’s wife, said, “If they are serious they should set them free and then retry them.

My husband is going through the whole thing again, remembering the horrible episode of torture, attempt to rape and sexual abuse.

I think it is ridiculous, what sort of legal process is this? They are playing for time, and should have transferred his case to a civilian court at the first hearing not the third.”

The BBC has a video report, including an interview with Khadija, HERE:

BAHRAIN GOVERNMENT CLAIM ALKHAWAJA “NOT FORCE-FED” – HOW COULD HE BE ALIVE AFTER FASTING 83 DAYS OTHERWISE?:

AlKhawaja himself is now in the 83rd day of his “Freedom or Death” hunger strike. When his family were finally allowed to visit for an hour on Sunday, after being denied access for a week, AlKhawaja told them that he had been tied to the bed, sedated and force-fed through a nasoenteric tube.

Despite denials on their Government news agency website from the Bahraini Defence Force military hospital where he is being held, that this was the case, it is almost certainly the reason he is still alive. Almost all previous hunger strikers have not survived more than 73 days. He has vowed to continue his strike.http://www.petercliffordonline.com/bafta-burp

The family were also allowed to visit Zainab AlKhawaja, Abdulhadi’s daughter, who has now been held in custody for more than a week for staging a sit-down protest on the highway in support of her father.

Zainab told her family that she had been kicked and beaten on arrest.

Bahrain activist Frankie Dolan has started a Storify page in support of AlKhawaja and is asking people to leave their comments, thoughts and memories about him and the inspiration he has provided. 100,000 comments needed. You can add yours, HERE:

TORTURE, BEATINGS AND ABUSE BY THE AL KHALIFA POLICE CONTINUE IN “UNOFFICIAL LOCATIONS” SAYS HRW:

That abuse, torture, arbitrary arrests and distortion continue in Bahrain, despite its “commitment” to implementing the recommendations of the BICI report issued last November, was highlighted again on Sunday when Human Rights Watch (HRW) published another report titled “Bahrain: Police Brutality Despite Reform Pledges”.

In a visit from 15th – 19th March 2012, HRW interviewed 14 youngsters, including 7 children, who had been arrested and then taken to informal police facilities and isolated public places and beaten before being released or taken to police stations.

Interviews and formal proceedings at police stations are now supposed to be recorded on video.http://www.petercliffordonline.com/bafta-burp

One 20 year old described his treatment after being arrested on February 11th and taken to the former youth hostel in Sanabis, a place activists have identified as one used for abuse and torture.

“I had lost my shoes and could feel grass beneath my feet. With my hands cuffed behind my back, they made me kneel and bend over and they started kicking me and beating me with sticks. Someone said: “Finished.”

Another voice said: “Too early, continue.” They then removed all my clothes, apart from the tee shirt that they had turned on my head, and laughed at me. They then put my pants back on and asked me to pray.

As I leaned forward, I and the other prisoner were kicked from behind and we fell forward into a swimming pool, still with hands cuffed. The pool was shallow, so I was able to stand but the water was cold – it was a particularly chilly evening.

When I fell into the pool, my tee shirt hood came down and I could see policemen standing around the pool”.

HRW has confirmed with satellite imagery that the former Sanabis Youth Hostel grounds contains a swimming pool.

HRW raised “the issue of police brutality and torture during arrest and at informal facilities with Bahrain’s chief of public security, Major General Tariq al-Hasan, and his two senior international advisers, John Yates and John Timoney, on April 17.

Timoney and Yates said they had visited some of the facilities identified by Human Rights Watch but found no evidence at the time of their visits of detainees being taken there and mistreated.

Major General al-Hasan told Human Rights Watch that the police authorities were considering issuing instructions to order immediate transfer of detained protesters to police stations”.

As yet no senior police or security officer has been held accountable for abuse, torture or deaths in custody in Bahrain and not one single police officer has as yet tbeen convicted of such a crime. You can read the whole HRW report, HERE:

BAHRAIN FOREIGN MINISTER INCITES FOLLOWERS TO VOTE FOR TV FILM – APPARENTLY THOUGHT “BAFTA” WAS A FOOD EATING AWARD:

Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa, who describes himself on his Twitter profile as a “Bon Vivant” (EDITOR: But judging by his photographs has been clearly “Bon Vivanting” rather too much lately – see @khalidalkhalifa and below – and perhaps got the word “BAFTA” confused with the English word “BURP”), last weekend incited his 80,000 socila media followers to vote against the Al Jazeera award winning TV documentary “Shouting in the Dark”.

The Al Jazeera film, much of which was shot undercover, documents the Bahrain uprising of 2011 and the aftermath. It has already won numerous awards and is currently one of 4 nominees for the 2012 BAFTA (British Academy for Film and Television Arts) prize for Current Affairs.http://www.petercliffordonline.com/bafta/burp

Sheikh Khalid told his followers to vote for a Channel 4 film about Sri Lanka, one which probably few of them have watched, and, ironically, whose film makers Bahrain’s Government deported from their country recently (see below).

So far, his “call to action” has not helped much. As of this morning, Tuesday, “Shouting in the Dark” was ahead by around 7,000 votes, polling 52.25% of the vote. The other 2 programmes by Panorama have jointly polled less than 1% of the vote.

You can cast your vote, HERE:

You can also watch Al Jazeera’s excellent documentary, HERE:

The UK’s Channel 4, whose journalists were chased by police and deported from Bahrain for filming “illegally”, have had some of the footage that they lost at the time smuggled back to them. You can see their video report, filmed during the F1 Grand Prix week, HERE:

Ironically, the votes of Sheikh Khalid and his supporters are irrelevant anyway. The BAFTA Awards are decided by an independent jury and will be announced on the 27th May. The Radio Times poll was merely to gauge the views of its readers and it makes no difference to the end result. You can read the full BBC article, HERE:

EDITOR: As a satirical blogger I am so grateful to the Bahrain government for the endless ways it makes a fool of itself. Thank you.