EGYPT: The “Revolution” that Never Was?



BURMA: In my very first post on 1st January 2011 I wrote about women’s rights and how by depriving women of the opportunity to play their full role in society, we waste 50% of the earth’s human resources.

Two of the women in oppressive situations that I highlighted then were Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese pro-democracy leader who was held under house arrest, on and off, for almost 24 years until her release on 13th November 2010, and Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani who was sentenced to death by stoning in Iran, despite the fact that her husband was already dead at the time of the supposed “offence”.

Aung San Suu Kyi

It is with some pleasure then to note that Aung San Suu Kyi is now free to travel, that she and her followers have won some seats in the Burmese parliament, that Burmese leaders after years of isolation are now communicating with the world (though probably through self interest), and that Aung San Suu Kyi has today arrived for a visit to the UK.

This is her first visit to Europe since 1988, although she was married to an Englishman, Michael Aris, a Tibetan scholar, who died of cancer in 1999. Fearful that the Burmese authorities would not allow her to return if she went to her husband’s bedside, she made the painful decision to stick by her people and remain in Burma.

Aung San Suu Kyi also has 2 sons based and born in the UK and during her UK visit she will make a visit to Oxford where they all lived for a number of years. Today, Tuesday, is her 67th birthday.

Michael Aris & Aung San Suu Kyi + baby

She is expected to receive an honorary degree from the university while in Oxford, meet Prince Charles and his wife Camilla on Thursday and address both houses of the British Parliament, as well as meeting David Cameron the Prime Minister. She spoke in Ireland at the weekend, HERE:

Last Saturday Aung San Suu Kyi addressed the Nobel Committee in Norway and received the Nobel Peace Prize which they awarded her 20 years ago. She said she heard about it on the radio at the time, while under house arrest, and it helped reconnect her with the wider world.  You can read more about her life, HERE:

So sometimes the world does get a little better it seems, despite all the pain, persecution, killing and torture.

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani –

IRAN: Of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the Iranian lady sentenced to death by stoning, there is no word as far as I can trace.

In January 2012 the Iranian parliament changed the law on “adultery” to death by hanging, but that is effectively no improvement on a punishment that seems to be reserved for women and remains cruel, inhuman and unjust.

Sakineh Ashtiani, may still be alive in prison, but it would not surprise me to learn that she has been quietly and secretly executed.

EGYPT: The 2011 “revolution” in Egypt that brought down it’s long time president and dictator, Hosni Mubarak, looks as though it may have stalled.

Despite reaching the point of parliamentary elections, a “Supreme Constitutional Court” (odd when the country still does not have a constitution) declared last week that the legislative polls last year were unconstitutional because party members were allowed to contest seats in the lower house reserved for independents.

Tahrir Square in The Heady Days of Revolution

 This has led the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (Scarf), which had controlled the country since Mubarak fell, still in complete power. 

So everyone is wondering if anything has changed.

The question gains more stringency when you discover that of the 2 remaining candidates in last week’s presidential election run-off, one is a former army officer and prime minister under Mubarak, Ahmed Shafiq, and the other is the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, a group of whom the army are terrified.

Following the ruling by the constitutional court on the parliamentary elections, Scarf, dissolved parliament and prevented MPs from entering, and yesterday gave itself sweeping powers over legislation, the national budget and over who writes a new constitution, effectively removing power from any new president.

The Brotherhood’s presidential candidate Mohammed Mursi is believed to be slightly ahead in the polling but the results will not be declared until Thursday.

Ahmed Shafiq & Mohammed Mursi – Presidentail candidates – AP

 The former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi, who was 3rd in the first round of voting, said the declaration was a “seizure of the future of Egypt”.

So far the street revolutionaries, many of whom supported Sabahi, have been restrained.

However, if Thursday’s result is suspected of being gerrymandered in favour of the ruling army council, who seem to have guaranteed themselves jobs for life and have huge and lucrative business interests all over Egypt, then the revolution in Egypt may just have to take place all over again.

Whether the people have enough energy or stomach for that remains to be seen.

BAHRAIN: Persecution of Adults Not Enough – Children Now Under Fire







In a week that has seen a 11 year old released after more than 1 month in detention, more children arrested, some in the middle of the night, and now yesterday a small child serously injured with birdshot, Bahrain’s Opposition Tweeters can be forgiven for asking on Twitter whether the Al Khalifa Government has “run out of grown-ups to arrest and shoot?”.

Ali Hassan After His Release

Ali Hassan, the 11 year old (sometimes reported as 12) was released on bail on Monday this week after being initially imprisoned and then held in a juvenile detention centre.

While in detention the six grade student was forced to take his exams while behind bars, not the most conducive environment for clear thinking and exam preparation. All Ali wanted to do was to go home and be with his Mum.

Ali is still charged with “illegal gathering” and “rioting” and accused of trying to block the street against entry by police into his village, and will have to return to court on 20th June.

The youngster says he was just playing in the street with 2 friends when they were chased by plaincloths police. When Ali fell over while trying to escape, he was taken away and unecessarily incarcerated. You can hear his own testimony in this Al Jazeera interview, HERE:

Policewomen Smirk at Despondent Mother after Arresting Her Son

As Ahlam Oun points out an “illegal gathering” is a meeting together of 5 people or more, which would of course make many family meetings “against the law”.

In her blog post Ahlam suggests that this has become the authorities “quick-fix” to neutralise anyone they don’t like, but conversely they fail to prosecute anyone who supports them when the Al Fateh movement for example hold an unlicensed rally.

There have also been numerous reports of villages being raided this week by police in the middle of the night, especially between the hours of 1.30 and 4.30 am.

The raids seem systematic and deliberate, one by one targeting in the last 7 days the villages of Salmabad, Daih, Jidhafs, Al Musala, Aali, Sanabis, Sitra, Buri, Muharraq, Duraz, Bilad Al Qadeem and many more and arresting people while they are still half asleep.

The raids are often noisy, aggressive and violent and almost always without a warrant to arrest.

Ali Ashoor, shown here, is 16 years old and has been detained since January 5th. He is currently the youngest prisoner in Jaw prison.

Ali Ashoor 16 Year Old in Jaw Prison -Courtesy @jihankazerooni

Yesterday Hassan AlSamea, 12 years old, was dragged away from his mother and arrested despite her attempts to prevent it.

The despondent face of Hassan’s Mother and those of the smirking female police officers having succeeded in their task, say it all.

12 Year Old Dragged Away From His Mother


Worst of all this week is the shooting of a 4 year old child (earlier reported as 5 years old.

EDITOR: Can someone tell me why there are always problems in Bahrain getting ages right?)

Ahmed Naham was sitting in the street with his Father who was selling fish, as photographic evidence confirms.

Mr. Naham says the police coming down the street told them to “go away” but as he prepared to pick up his child, a policeman opened fire. The 4 year old now has 2 pellets in his left eye and more in other parts of his body. The father has pellets in his thigh, stomach and arms. Video on the Internet shows police carrying the boy away, closely followed by his father.

Father & 4 Year Old Shot By Police

After arriving at the Salmaniya Medical complex, police and security service personnel prevented people and some members of the family from speaking to the father or seeing the little boy.

He is now undergoing treatment.

EDITOR: It seems very evident to me that this is a new tactic – target children and indirectly intimidate their parents in the hope that they will keep their offspring away from protests. Fat chance – far too late for that! Sumood.


But of course, the persecution of adults in the Shia community in Bahrain does not stop either. This morning,Thursday, while nine of the medics who have been on trial for over a year in military and civil courts, were acquitted of all charges, nine others were convicted.

Those acquitted following a series of internationally condemned and farcical trials were Zahra AlSammak, Hassan AlTublani,
Fatima Haji, Nada Dhaif, Ahmed Omran, Rola AlSaffar, Najah Khalil, Mohammed AlShehab and Sayed Marhoon.

However, the following were found guilty, albeit with reduced sentences, Ali AlEkri (5 years), Ghassan Dhaif (1 year), Mahmood Asghar (6 months), Bassem Dhaif (1 month), Ebrahim AlDemistani (3 years), (Nader Diwani and Abdulkhaliq AlOraibi (both 1 month), Dhiaa AbuIdrees (2 months) and Saeed AlSamaheeji (1 year).

Some of the Drs Imprisoned or Acquitted Today

Two other medics did not appear in court to appeal their 15 year sentences, having either gone abroad or underground in Bahrain.

The court threw out some of the most serious charges such as “occupying the Salmaniya hospital” and “possessing weapons”, piles of which, including chains, a sword and an AK 47, were brought into court at a previous hearing.

“This is an unjust ruling,” Twefik Dhaif, the uncle of two of the convicted medics said.

“These are the elite doctors in this country. We have 15 doctors in my family, and most of the people they have treated were Al Khalifas,” referring to Bahrain’s controlling family. You can read Al Jazeera’s report, HERE:

Clearly this has nothing to do with justice. Everyone knows that all the medics did was help treat the injuries of protesters in very difficult circumstances.

Reducing sentences and freeing some is the best the Bahrain Government and judicial system can come up with in the face of continued international criticism and in an a pathetic attempt to save face. And it is not enough.

Donna McKay, the executive director of Physicians for Human Rights, said after the verdict, “It is a travesty of justice that the trials continued and that the medics are now sentenced to jail time”.

Dr. Nada Dhaif, the only one of the doctors on trial allowed to travel, spoke at a demonstration in Dublin on 12rh June, HERE: supported by other speakers such Jamila Hanan (aka Frankie Dolan), HERE:  Respect to you both for your clear statements.


And the injustice continues. Nabeel Rajab, the President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights was due in court again this week but was remanded in prison again, without a court visit, until 18th June. He is also due in court on 19th May on another charge, but no-one will be surprised if that hearing is delayed also.

All part of the not-so-sophisticated sadistic mental torture practiced by the Al Khalifa Government.

Ahmed Aoun, an imprisoned 17 year old student, who had a police shotgun pellet embedded in his right eye, was denied an operation at the end of May, but now 2 weeks later the surgery has been carried out. The delay may have cost him his sight.

He was originally arrested while receiving treatment at a private hospital for his injuries which were sustained while supporting a peaceful demonstration.

Sayed Hadi Al Musawi – Courtesy BJDM

Now comes news that Sayed Hadi Al Musawi, a former Opposition MP who recently gave testimony at the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva during Bahrain’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on human rights, has been called for questioning today at the Public Prosecutor’s office following a complaint by the Ministry of Interior.

At the time of the UPR hearing local loyalist media in Bahrain referred to the participants as “traitors” and they were threatened with prosectuion by the Minister of Interior himself.

The Bahrain Justice and Development Movement, who also attended the UPR session, said “Regardless of whether this relates to Sayed Hadi’s involvement in the UPR there is no justification for the call for investigation. Sayed Hadi is an opposition activist and human rights defender who has always worked within the framework of the law.

This is is another attempt to try to silence the opposition and does not constitute a serious attempt by the authorities to take the country out of the current crisis.”


In addition to all that the likely direction of further arrests and prosecutions is indicated by a statement reported in the press by the recently appointed Minister of State for Information Affairs, Samira Rajab.

Samira Rajab Expresses Her Admiration for Dictator Sadam Hussein

Samira Rajab, a past supporter of dictator Sadam Hussein apparently, said that Bahrain is set to introduce tough new laws to combat the “misuse” of social media.

Claiming that action was necessary to “guarantee the security of the state”, the minister said, “We have a right to punish those who indulge in seditious behaviour and create disunity among the people.

We have to think of how to protect our national security. We have these new threats and we have to see how we can tackle those threats”.

Speaking at a conference organised by the Bahrain Centre for Strategic and International Studies and Energy, she asserted that “social media had been and continues to be abused by the so-called human rights activists”, citing claims “that drowning victims had been killed by torture” and that “sickel cell victims” had been killed by security forces.

(EDITOR: Though independent examination of victims in both those cases has indicated that the victims had been severely tortured before death.)

Compounding the Al Khalifa Government’s inane and immature ability to understand the rights of individuals to self-expression in the modern world, the King, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa held a meeting at the Bahrain Defence Force (BDF) Command Headquarters.

Also present at the family gathering were Commander-in-Chief Field Marshal Shaikh Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, State Minister for Defence Affairs Lieutenant General Dr. Shaikh Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Khalifa and BDF Chief of Staff Major General Shaikh Daij bin Salman Al Khalifa.

King Attends Another Tedious Family Gathering – BNA

In his speech to the officers present, the King said yesterday, “Our armed forces are the protectors of the nation’s achievements and everybody must know that whoever disrespects the forces or its leaders is in fact abusing us”.

We cannot tolerate,” the King continued, “Any irreverence of our beliefs, social values and armed forces in the name of freedom of expression. All competent executive agencies have to take the necessary measures to address these violations in accordance with the law”.

TRANSLATION: “Criticise the armed forces, police or security forces and we will take that personnally and make up new laws to prosecute you for defamation”. For the oppressed in Bahrain it does not get any easier.

UN Monitors Allowed Into Site of 4th Massacre Only After “Attempted Cover-up”?





TIMELINE – 9th JUNE 2012 23.02 GMT:

UN observers finally made it yesterday into the deserted farming village of Mazraat Al-Qubeir, 2 days after a reported massacre of more than 80 people, at least half of them women and children.

UN Monitors in the Remains of Al-Qubeir

Despite the claims by the Syrian Government that it was “nothing to do with them” there was clear evidence of armored-vehicle tracks in the vicinity and some homes were damaged by rockets from armored vehicles, grenades and weapons ranging in calibre.

Only the Syrian army has armored vehicles and heavy weapons.

In some houses there was still evidence of human flesh, blood and body parts and the air was filled with the stench of burnt bodies. The UN are still trying to establish exactly what happened.

Neighbours of the community blame miltia gangs from nearby Alawite villages. The BBC’s Paul Danahar accompanied the UN team and was witness to what they found in this video report, HERE:


Early this morning, Saturday, Deraa in the south of the country came under heavy shelling and 17 people were reported killed, 10 of them women.

Many Killed and Wounded From Shelling in Daraa

Yesterday also saw some of the heaviest fighting in Damascus since the conflict began with Syrian Army troops opening fire on anti-government protesters and members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) retaliating in their defence.

FSA fighters openly appeared at a rally in Kfar Souseh and attacked an Army checkpoint in the same area.

Clashes additionally occurred in the Damascus suburbs of Qaboun and Barzeh with tank fire until 1.30 am  on Saturday morning. The FSA attacked a power plant in Qaboun with rocket-propelled grenades, setting fire to a generator and causing blackouts. The attack left buses charred and a smashed car.

Maath al-Shami, an opposition activist said, “Yesterday was a turning point in the conflict. There were clashes in Damascus that lasted hours. The battle is in Damascus now.”  Associated Press has a fuller report, HERE:



BAHRAIN: Allegations of Sexual Misconduct and Continued Human Rights Abuse






TIMELINE – 7th JUNE 2012 12.55 GMT:

Bahrain’s Ambassador to France, Dr Nasser Mohammed Al Balooshi (EDITOR: English spelling of the surname confirmed by the Gulf Daily News today) yesterday denied “unfounded allegations” that he had groped a domestic worker at his up-market residence in the Paris suburb of Neuilly.

Ambassador Balooshi With Wary Embassy Staff

On Tuesday the French police had announced that they had opened an initial investigation into claims by a 44 year old domestic worker that the Ambassador had groped her and attempted rape on a number of occasions between July 2010 and October 2011.

The woman, whose husband has also lodged a complaint, was fired shortly afterwards.

The alleged victim also says that the Ambassador’s son threatened her with a gun in September 2010.

A statement released by the Bahrain embassy in Paris yesterday said, “His Excellency Nasser Al Balooshi, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Bahrain to France, forcefully refutes the inaccurate and unfounded allegations of assault that former domestic workers have made against him and his son,” and added that the ambassador was available to French investigators “to shed light on these false accusations.”

The initial inquiry is to determine the veracity of the allegations. It could lead to charges, the appointment of an investigating judge, or no further action.

Back in Bahrain, unable to completely ignore the international media reporting of the incident, both the official Bahrain Government News Agency (BNA) and the leading English language paper, Gulf Daily News (GDN), played down the report.

In 7 short lines the BNA reported  that his “Excellency … forcefully refutes the inaccurate and unfounded allegations” and without any investigation has already decided that these were “false allegations”.

The GDN rather naively headlined the report “Harassment Case Envoy Skips Work”, as though he had rather naughtily just decided to  take a day off without permission.

Again in a short 8 line report it repeated the outline of the alleged allegation and then said, “An embassy official told the GDN that Dr Balooshi did not show up for work yesterday, without commenting further” and , “Officials at Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry could not be reached for comment”.

(EDITOR: They had all obviously “skipped work” for the day as well suffering from an acute outbreak of “dire embarrassment”.)

The Gulf Daily News also pointed out that Dr. Balooshi is Bahrain’s permanent delegate to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.


What the state news agency or the GDN have not mentioned (neither being part of a free press) is that Dr. Nasser Ballooshi is the brother of Dr. Fatima Balooshi, who until Tuesday was Bahrain’s Minister of Human Rights and Social Development.

Dr Fatima Balooshi – Embarrassed Sister? – GDN

Since Tuesday, when the reports from Paris first surfaced, Dr. Fatima Balooshi is now only the “Minister of Social Development”, “Human Rights” having “gone out the window” and  hastily dropped by royal degree from both her official title and the name of the Ministry.

Co-incidence? Or has a family “human rights abuse” “accident” caused the Minister and the Bahrain Government acute embarrassment?

Any bets on how long before the “ambassador” is recalled to Manama?

Another Tweet received this morning comments on Dr Naser Balooshi’s former post as Director of Administration at the Bahrain Central Bank, where he is reported to have been reluctant to recruit Shia employees and to have “used the bank drivers to serve him and his family”. “He treated them bad”, says the Tweeter.

Nasser Al-Balooshi was also formally Bahrain’s ambassador to the United States. Apparently, the Balooshi family originates from Iranian Balochistan, a Sunni area in conflict with the Shia Government of Iran.

(EDITOR: And which is why the Al Khalifa Government employs Shia-hating mercenaries from the Balochistan area in Pakistan to work for them as policemen.)


Talking of HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE (1), here is a picture of 11 year old Ali Hassan, now detained in Bahrain police custody for more than 3 weeks for “participating in an illegal gathering”.

Ali Hassan, 11 Year Old Detained for 3 Weeks

(EDITOR: Perhaps he and “Ambassdor Balooshi could swop places? I am sure Ali would be much better behaved.)

Yesterday, Ali is reported to have told his lawyer, “I just want to go home!”.

HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE (2): According to reports, Nabeel Rajab, the President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, was arrested in court again yesterday for Tweeting messages allegedly “insulting” the residents of the Sunni dominated neighbourhood of Muharraq.

In a complaint registered with the Public Prosecutor’s office, 24 retired police officers who live in Muharraq accused Nabeel Rajab of casting doubt on their patriotism and allegedly suggesting the people of Muharraq were “government stooges”.

(EDITOR: The retired policemen obviously have too much time on their hands!)

HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE (3): It is reported from the Dry Docks Prison that 50 detainees have gone on hunger strike in protest at the continued refusal of the authorities to allow imprisoned demonstrator Ahmed Oun to have scheduled medical treatment for the removal of a shotgun pellet in his eye.

Ahmed Oun, a 17 year old student, was injured after being fired at with a police shotgun whilst taking part in a pro-democracy demonstration and was arrested shortly afterwards after seeking medical help at a private hospital.

Surgery was arranged for the 29th May but Ahmed has been prevented by the authorities from having that treatment. Every second counts. If the pellet is not removed shortly, doctors say he could well lose his sight permanently.

Ahmed is in severe pain, has bleeding from the eye and is reported to have fainted on several occasions.

Since the Formula 1 event in Bahrain in April the use of birdshot directly fired at protesters has increased significantly, causing loss of sight in a number of demonstrators and at least one death.

There is an #EYE4FREEDOM demonstration in Bahrain today, in support of all those who have lost an eye in the struggle for freedom in Bahrain and specifically to demand treatment for Ahmed Oun.


Ahmed Oun in Private hospital Shortly Before His Arrest. – BCHR


Threats, Delusions and Sectarian Persecution in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia






TIMELINE – 1st June 2012 11.15 GMT:

Following the release on bail on Monday of Nabeel Rajab, another 3 activists Zainab AlKhawaja, Masooma Sayyid Sharaf and Hassan Oun were released from detention on Tuesday of this week.

Zainab Alkhawaja Shortly After Her Release

Like Nabeel Rajab, Zainab and Masooma were released on bail and will have to return to court in June to answer further charges.

But as Amnesty International said on Tuesday in a statement, commenting on the ongoing trials of prisoners of conscience and the many political prisoners still held in detention on questionable charges, “behind Bahrain’s thin veneer of reform, little has changed in practice and the human rights crisis is far from over”.

This was highlighted last week at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, when following a “Universal Periodic Revue” (UPR), which all UN member states are subject to, Bahrain was severely criticised for its human rights record and landed with 176 recommendations which it says it is going to “consider”.

As well a some internationally known human rights organisations, some civic society members of the Opposition from Bahrain gave evidence at the hearing including Drs.Ala’a Shehabi and Nada Dhaif, Maryam AlKhawaja and Jalila al Salman.

Nabeel Rajab of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) was unable to attend as he was still being held in prison accused of “insulting a state institution” on his Twitter account.

At the end of the hearings last Friday and the issuing of the report on Bahrain, the President of the Human Rights Council Laura Dupuy Lasserre, issued an unprecedented statement saying she had been advised that some of those giving evidence against the Bahrain Government had been named and vilified in Bahrain’s media and threatened with interrogation and reprisals since appearing.

Laura Lasserre, President UN HR Council

The President of the Council went on to name all the civil society members from Bahrain who attended and called for their protection.

Despite vehement statements of denial from Bahraini officials at the UN and back home that they would “ever do such a thing”, reports from Manama confirmed that vilification of the activists who spoke in Geneva continued on Bahrain’s state TV on Tuesday evening and that since the beginning of the session on Monday 21st May, a number of columns have appeared in Bahrain media labeling the activists as “traitors” and making other derogatory statements against them.

Dr. Salah Ali, Minister of State at Bahrain’s “Human Rights” Ministry and leader of their UN delegation, called the allegations “unfounded” and said he would like to know who made such a complaint to the Human Rights Council?

The representatives from Saudi Arabia, Belarus, Kuwait and Yemen, all of whom had supported Bahrain’s shining human rights record”, condemned the President for her statement.

However, Laura Dupuy Lasserre stood by her comments and in her final remarks said that it was her duty to protect those who face attacks.


Jalila Al Salman, Deputy Vice President of the Bahrain Teachers Union and who is currently still on trial for “attempting to overthrow the Government of Bahrain” along with Mahdi Abu Deeb, said “I was very uncomfortable about the daily reports in the loyal press.

It gives a bad feeling but I was very happy to hear our names in the UN room. It gave me the feeling that I am under the UN protection”.

Jalila and Mahdi’s case came before the courts again on Tuesday, but in the traditional warped style of Bahrain’s judicial system, the process was postponed again until 25th June. While Jalila remains free on bail, Mahdi, President of the Bahrain Teachers Union, continues to be held in prison where he has already spent more than 12 months.

Jalila Al Salman & Mahdi Abu Deeb

The judicial system used in this way is just another form of “slow psychological torture” to cause maximum distress, alternating with hope, and then more distress and maximum inconvenience to the prisoners and their families and supporters.

A video called “The Bleeding Pearl” documents both the recent and older history of the physical torture inflicted on Bahraini citizens. The victims speak eloquently of their dreadful experiences. 

More than one accuses Lieutenant Noora Al Khalifa, a member of the “royal family”, of directing and taking part in torture sessions. You can watch the video, HERE:

As yet, not one single person, senior or junior, has been held accountable for these gross acts of barbarity and in some cases, murder, and successfully prosecuted, though a number of trials of junior members of the security forces are in progress.

Protesters Show Pictures of Victims of Torture

Apart from everything else, sectarian abuse and targeting continues, despite the “protests of innocence” of the Government and frequent statements about what “huge strides towards democracy and freedom of expression” it is making, usually aimed at fooling the international community..

Good examples are statements in Istanbul made yesterday by Bahrain’s Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Ali bin Khalifa Al Khalifa at the “International Forum of the Alliance of Civilisations” held in Turkey and chaired by Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In his speech to the forum Sheikh Ali said that Bahrain “is a country of law, institutions and people’s participation in building communities… the kingdom continues to implement its commitment to the freedom of thought and expression, justice and cultural and religious diversity through cultural dialogue between civilisations”.

Which is a complete load of twaddle  when you know that Nabeel Rajab was imprisoned for sending out Tweets mentioning the Ministry of the Interior.

To emphasise the absurdity of the point, his supporters rallied behind him at a demonstration in Manama yesterday at which they displayed in large format dozens of Nabeel’s Tweets transmitted before his recent arrest.


On top of the Government’s delusional deception is their sheer sectarian vindictiveness.

Just one example of this are their attacks on students. Zainab Maklooq (24), Alaa Sayed (24) and Zahraa Zabar (23) were all medical students studying and living until last year at the Al-Damam University (King Faisal University) in Saudi Arabia.

Entrance to King Faisal University, Damman

On March 21st 2011, shortly after the outbreak of democracy demonstrations in Bahrain, the 3 students were requested by the Director of Al Dammam University housing, apparently on orders from the Saudi “Higher National Security Council”, to collect their personal belongings because they were to be immediately deported.

After being driven to the King Fahd causeway they were handed over to 50 masked security personnel from Bahrain, driven away in a mini-bus and verbally abused on the journey.

After 23 days in prison for made-up charges of “criticizing government symbols”, “inciting hatred towards the regime”, “organizing protests at the university” and “contacting foreign TV channels and disseminating misleading information” and 3 court appearances they were acquitted for lack of evidence.

Despite this the 3 students are banned from returning to Saudi Arabia to complete their studies. Zainab and Alaa were in their sixth year of study and just a few months away from graduating and Zahraa was in her fifth year.

Applications to other universities have been meet with the information that they will have to repeat at least 3 years of study.

Mahmood Habib is another Bahraini medical student who had a scholarship to the University of King Faisal in Saudi Arabia where he was in his last year of study and was about to take his final exam.

Shortly before this was about to happen he was told that complaints had been made against him by colleagues concerning supposed comments on the situation in Bahrain. He was suspended and has since been expelled. No crime, no trial, years of study wasted.

EDITOR: As long as vicious sectarian persecution, based on flimsy and in some cases no evidence at all, continues in Bahrain, the kingdom will be the laughing stock of the world as civilised people see straight through its ridiculous and hypocritical posturing and its acts of sheer vindictiveness.

Protesters March in Solidarity With Rajab’s Right to Tweet – Courtesy of @anmarek


British Monarch Dines With Despots







TIMELINE – 18th MAY 2012 11.37 GMT:

Today, Friday, the UK’s Queen Elizabeth ll will host a luncheon at Windsor Castle (EDITOR: Where my Mother used to wind-up the clocks strangely!) as part of her 60th Diamond Jubilee celebrations and those invited to attend will be “fellow royalty” from all around the world.

As I have pointed out a number of times, this business of “royalty” is entirely meaningless.

If you are classified as “royal” it is a genetic accident of birth and has nothing to do with merit or ability and certainly nothing to do with the ballot box and a popular vote.

There is just as much chance of a “complete idiot” growing up in a “royal family” as there is in any other. The difference is that a “royal idiot” will automatically be given power, money and prestige, while “a normal idiot” is likely to be recognised for what he is – an complete idiot!

And I am not talking about mental health here, but general incompetence.

Nor for a moment am I suggesting Queen Elizabeth is idiotic. As monarchs go she is generally well liked, works hard for the national good and acts as a non-politicised head of state, something that has distinct advantages over the presidential system where political leaders come and go and whose statements are often seen as controversial.

She is also constitutional head of 13 other states besides the UK.

Yet Queen Elizabeth also has no political power. All Acts of Parliament are passed on a majority vote by MPs and her signature on them to pass into law is merely ceremonial and legal and she has never refused one or attempted to amend it (EDITOR: As far as we know!).

But I do question her judgement, and that of her advisers, in inviting to this “royal” luncheon despots like King Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa whose family have controlled Bahrain for almost 230 years.

King Hamad’s family members head the majority of government ministries enabling them to manipulate the judiciary, police, army, parliament, freedom of speech, freedom of the press and media and the prison system among other institutions.

The systematic abuses by the King and his family as a result of that have been well-documented on this website and in the media worldwide. 

(EDITOR: There is also no truth, I am assured, that all the seats at Windsor Castle have been re-inforced to accommodate the bulk of the Gulf States’ royal monarchs, many of whom are also Al Khalifa related dictators.)

Kinda Easy To Work Out What The Attraction of 14 Wives is Based On!

Another prize manipulator at this luncheon is King Mswati lll of Swaziland who I have written about extensively before (See “The Last Absolute Monarch in Africa” ).

King Mswati for a start has 14 wives (yes, 14 – that is not a misprint!) – and presumably also employs a domestic referee!

And while King Mswati’s net wealth is estimated at $100 million (peanuts compared with the estimated $3.2 billion of wealth attributed to King Hamad and the collective 100’s of $billions owned by all the monarchs at tomorrow’s luncheon), 80% of his population live on less that $2 dollars a day and at 25% of the population are infected with HIV, his country having the highest infection rate in the world.

King Mswati’s official annual allowance is in excess of $30 million dollars and his benign and sympathetic view on the large number of HIV victims in his country? They should be “sterilised and branded” apparently, according to a view he expressed on the subject in a parliamentary debate in 2000.

So it begs the question, why is a supposedly intelligent woman such as Queen Elizabeth giving “house room” to humanitarian abusers of this magnitude?

Peter Tatchell, a long time UK based human rights campaigner, said the invitations were “a shocking misjudgement” that showed the Queen was “out of touch with the humanitarian values of most British people .

Inviting blood-stained despots brings shame to our monarchy and tarnishes the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. It is a kick in the teeth to pro-democracy campaigners and political prisoners in these totalitarian royal regimes.” I agree. The BBC has 2 video reports, HERE:


So while King Hamad, King Mswati and their ilk will be tucking into their substantial lunch of several courses today at Windsor Castle, political prisoners in their countries will be sitting in their cells contemplating another lost day and the infringement of their basic human right of self-expression.

Currently, after a series of middle-of-the-night raids and mass arbitary arrests in villages around the capital Manama, an estimated 900 political prisoners now languish idly in King Hamad’s prisons in Bahrain, among them leading human rights campaigners Abdulhadi AlKhawaja and Nabeel Rajab, former and current presidents of the Bahrain Centre for Human RIghts (BCHR).

AlKhawaja’s lawyer, Mohammed Al-Jishi, was finally allowed to visit his client again yesterday, the first time in 45 days. Despite entering today the 100th day of his “Freedom or Death” hunger strike, the lawyer said AlKhawaja was “well” and “Abdelhadi can walk. He is conscious and moves around normally”.

Al Jishi. confirmed that, “He is pursuing his hunger strike and subsides on liquids for his survival,” but added, “His health has slightly improved because he was force fed”. Until recently AlKhawaja had been kept at the Bahrain Defence Force Hospital but on Tuesday was returned to Jaw prison, south of Manama.

Meanwhile, Nabeel Rajab appeared in court yesterday,Thursday, where he is charged with “insulting a statutory body via Twitter” and taking part in an “illegal” march 3 months ago.

Rajab told the judge at the Minor Criminal Court that, “The charge against me is vindictive and is due to my rights activism”, and insisted that the decision to arrest and try him was purely political.

In a demonstration of solidarity, more than 50 lawyers, both men and women, turned up at the court to defend Nabeel Rajab. The judge, playing the usual judicial games endemic to Bahrain, adjorned the session until Sunday and ordered that Rajab be kept in prison.

Joe Stork, the Middle East Director for Human Rights Watch, said, “The charges against Nabeel Rajab are nothing more than attempts to silence one of the Bahraini government’s most prominent critics. Authorities should immediately drop these charges and release him”.


EDITOR: Lastly, the petition I started to prevent Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, King Hamad of Bahrain’s son, from attending the 2012 London Olympics following extensive allegations of a sectarian campaign against Bahrain’s athletes and in some cases of personally torturing them, currently stands (11.00am, Friday 18th May – just 3 days after it started) at more than 7,500 signatures. Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad al Khalifa of Bahrain from attending the London Olympics 2012.
Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al-Khalifa is the President of the Bahrain Olympic Committee. As such he is entitled to attend all events …….

Interestingly, it is evident that the petition is being targeted by Bahrain Government agencies or supporters who are attempting to spoil it by automatically adding repeated names with multiple email addreses, over and over.

AVAAZ,org, the international campaigning group with more than 14 million members, who are hosting the petition and are well versed in these kind of anti-democratic cyber attacks, are monitoring the multiple signatures, identifying their source and removing them from the list.

You, as an individual, can give genuine support to this campaign by signing yourself, telling your friends on Facebook, forums, Twitter and other social media outlets and by sending an email to all your contacts.

An Email could read like this:

Subject: Prevent Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad al Khalifa of Bahrain from attending the London Olympics

“Hi, I just signed this petition — will you join me?

To: The UK’s Prime Minster, David Cameron and Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC)

The petition is really important and could use our help. Click HERE to find out more and sign.

Thanks so much.

Many thanks to all those who have signed so far. We need many more. For further information go directly to the Petition Page, HERE:


BAHRAIN – News: Nasser, “Prince of Torture”, to Attend London Olympics as VIP



TIMELINE – 13th MAY 2012 11.37 GMT:

This week the Olympic torch was lit once again using the sun’s rays in a ceremony at the site of the very first games at Olympia in Greece to begin its journey to the Olympic stadium in London. The flaming torch will be carried to Athens by foot before being flown to London.

And on July 27th the torch will finally reach its destination at Stratford in East London where it will be used to ignite the Olympic flame to open the 2012 Olympic Games in the UK.

(EDITOR: I once carried a portable typwriter from Olympia to Athens in a 500 mile journey by foot across Greece. Not quite the same as a flaming torch I know – but a damn sight heavier and another [true] story for another day!)

Present at that ceromony will be the officials of the International Olympic Committee and all the presidents of the national olympic committees from countries around the world.

All of these officials will be given free access to every Olympic event, accomodation at a discounted rate at a luxury hotel in London and a chauffeur driven BMW to take them to and from the Olympic venue and around London.

One official to enjoy all of these priviliges will be Bahrain’s “sports ambassador”, Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad al-Khalifa, aged 24, son of King Hamad of Bahrain and President of the Bahrain Olympic Committee.

Sheikh Nasser is very familiar with the UK having trained at Sandhurst, Britain’s world renowned military academy, and is now, despite any real military experience, the commander of Bahrain’s Royal Guard.

Last year during the disturbances in Bahrain, Sheikh Nasser rang up a live broadcast on state TV and commenting on demonstrators said, “Anyone who called for the fall of the regime, may a wall fall on his head. Whether he is an athlete, socialite or politician — whatever he is — he will be held accountable . . . Bahrain is an island and there is nowhere to escape”.

You can see the video of the TV programme, with English sub-titles, HERE:

Just to show that this was no wild, hot -headed statement by an out-of-control young and inexperienced member of Bahrain’s “royal” family, the Government subsequently put Sheikh Nasser in charge of a committee that identified and targeted 150 Shi’ite sportsmen and officials, including international footballers and other well known sports stars.

The committee even went after disabled athletes, who were accused of opposing the regime.

Two of the victims of this sectarian persecution (EDITOR: Because that is what it is) were A’ala and Mohammed Hubail, brothers who were both in the Bahrain national football team, one a goalkeeper and the other a leading scorer. Both the players were arrested last year, subjected to torture and removed from the team.

Mohammed, who was capped 52 times for Bahrain, was sentenced to 2 years in prison by a military court last year but was subsequently released after several months in jail.

At the time the United Nations Human Rights Commisssion said that the trials of the Hubail brothers ‘appear to bear the marks of political persecution’ and FIFA, the world football authority, sent officials to investigate.

The Hubail brothers were only 2 of 30 footballers arrested plus 26 basketball players, 27 Handball players, 22 Volleyball players, 2 bodybuilders, 1 special needs athlete, 12 sports administrators and referrees and 5 sports journalists all taken into custody and many imprisoned and abused for lengthy periods.

Picture: Many think Alaa Hubail was persecuted for helping the injured in Sitra:

At the very least, most have had their lives completely disrupted and their sports careers wrecked.

And their crime? Taking part in demonstrations calling for democracy – a human right in any civilised country.

When Mohammed Hubail received his 2 year sentence, Sheikh Nasser wrote on Twitter, “If it was up to me, I’d give them all life.”

To escape further embarassment, Sheikh Nasser has recently removed all his past Tweets from his Twitter Timeline.

Many others detained last year also report being tortured by Sheikh Nasser and other members of the “royal family”.

Specifically, Abdulla Isa Al-Mahroos, reported to the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) that Sheikh Nasser Bin hamad Alkhalifa, beat him while he was in detention and then forced him to open his mouth and spat in it.

Mohammed Habib Al-Muqdad, a Islamic cleric who is also a Swedish citizen, described how when blindfolded and being tortured, suddenly everyone went silent and the words “your majesty” were heard.

A voice said, “Do you know who I am?”. When Al-Muqdad said “No”, his blindfold was removed and the man infront of him said “I’m Prince Nasser Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa. When you protested outside our castle in Safriya, only a wall separated us”.

Mohammed was asked what chants he had said at the protest that day. When Mohammed said “Down Down Hamad” Nasser slapped him and he fell to the ground. Sheikh Nasser then, it is reported, with the help of the other torturers, beat Mohammed severely.

Most of the torture sessions were said to have taken place in the underground cells of the Ministry of Interior (MOI) at Al Qala  in Manama.

Four other members of the “royal family”, including Sheikh Nasser’s brother Khalid and a female member, Shaikha Noura Al Khalifa, a MOI officer, are also accused of personal involvement in the torturing of detainees. For further information go to the BCHR site, HERE:

Andy Slaughter MP, chairman of the UK parliamentary group for democracy in Bahrain, has said, “Welcoming prominent members of the Khalifah regime accused of repression is a real blot on the Olympics”.

The UK’s Foreign Secretary, William Hague, says the government won’t hesitate to use its powers to extend London 2012 travel bans to individuals and officials with connections to “undesirable regimes” and Sheikh Nasser “would be closely assessed before being granted entry to Britain to attend the Games this summer”.

EDITOR: However, don’t hold your breath, the UK’s history of supporting bloody suppression in Bahrain is long and complicated and I will cover this further in another blog post.

Some say that sport, and the Olympics in particular, should not be mixed up with politics. I say that is an excuse to allow brutal and repressive regimes to get away with murder, often literally, and to show a face to the world that says they are “acceptable” when they are clearly not.

The world has changed. Governments that make compromises for self-serving reasons with oppressive, undemocratic governments, as the UK and the US do in Bahrain, will be increasingly challenged by an articulate, technology savvy, electorate worldwide.

Countries like China and Russia (and Bahrain) will be more likely to move towards reform in my view if they are told they will be excluded from international football, sports, Olympics, other competitions and international realtionships in general. Only being able to play sports with North Korea, another pariah state, and their friends must be boring to say the least.

Insolation and sanctions eventually bring a result, of which Burma is the latest country to decide to open its borders and government to reform as a result of co-ordinated international action.

Not only is Sheikh Nasser likely to be let quietly into the country to view the Olympics but his Father, King Hamad, is due to take part in Queen Elizabeth ll’s 60th Jubilee lunch at Windsor Castle on May 18th.

Unlike Bahrain, Queen Elizabeth has no political power whatsoever and acts as a useful constitutional monarch and non-politicised head of state.

Hopefully, Britain’s and Europe’s substantial human rights lobby will make their views loudly known when these two senior representatives of Bahrain’s torturing, repressive regime unfortunately show their faces in the UK.


While large demonstrations took place in Bahrain in support of Nabeel Rajab, the President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, on Friday and Saturday this week, the Al Khalifa regime took futher steps to consolidate his imprisonment.

Yesterday he was remained in custody for a further 7 days and to the list of “charges” has been added an accusation that he “delivered a speech during a public gathering urging those present to stage a march, confront authorities and use violence against security forces.

He also allegedly incited them to escalate the situation to ensure that confrontations result in deaths”.

(EDITOR: Which is news to everyone else, including those organisations that have awarded him and the BCHR numerous prizes for their human rights work.)

According to the report, “an illegal rally was organised in Manama following his speech, on the same day, which resulted in disrupting public order, blocking roads and attacks against security personnel”.

Nabeel is due in court again next Wednesday to answer charges “of insulting an official body” – “the MOI” apparently. Clearly, another series of sham trials and twisted, dishonest judicial proceedings is about to begin.

EDITOR: However how the Al Khalifa Governent hope to solve problems by doing this I do not know. Only at least another 397,000 members of the Shia community to arrest and prosecute on “prison island” left!

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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