Bahrain: not forgotten


Angry Arab chief Bahrain correspondent wrote me this: “I thought I’d give you a few updates on Bahrain. Its been really depressing to be honest. The february days seem like a distant memory and I feel like everyone I know that’s Bahraini is in some deep depression and is just going through the motions. But here’s the latest on what’s happening:

– The good news is that two female prisoners – Rolla AlSaffar head of the Bahraini Nursing Society and Jaleela AlSalman were finally released. Both had been on a hunger strike. Bahrain is obviously very obsessed with PR and these two became very high profile so they released them. Bassiouni apparently intervened too. He’s been playing an active role these days trying to release prisoners instead of doing his job which is to investigate what happened. The bad news is that they will still be tried in military court:.

– The amnesty link of course brings up another development. A month or so ago (I believe it was more) the King stated that all the trials will now be transferred to civilian courts. This never happened. Apparently the Minister of Justice refused to transfer the cases. Now people are being tried in military court again. See here also: So of course you can read this is two ways: The King isn’t in control of the country – the Prime Minister is or the King is in control and he was just making some statements for PR purposes. Apparently all the doctors and medical staff will be facing military trials on August 28.

– All of the opposition societies will be boycotting the elections. The government obviously isn’t too happy with this and has been threatening any society that boycotts saying it amounts to treason etc. Half of the districts have no one running (elections are not taking place everywhere, just is districts where MPs resigned)

– I had emailed you about the entire fiasco with Bassiouni. A member of the commission had told activists that the entire team was resigning. This was after an interview Bassiouni had with pro-government newspaper Alayam where they quoted him as saying that there were no human rights violations in Bahrain. That didn’t happen so there are a lot of rumors as to what happened behind the scenes. Bassiouni has now stopped giving interviews. The Commission issued the following two statements on their website:  They say his statements have been misinterpreted by the media. My question is, why talk to the media in the first place? People of course are really cynical and skeptical about Bassiouni. See this article on Bahrain Mirror: By the way Bassiouni has been making surprise visits to protests to see how the protestors are acting. Apparently the protestors have to behave. I can already see the report before it is published: King is great, security forces made mistakes, but protestors made mistakes too. You know, kind of like the goldstone report. Bassiouni is of course becoming the mediator between the King and the opposition – you know, trying to release prisoners here and there, making visits, trying to get some workers reinstated. It is all very interesting. Maybe Bassiouni should be running the country.

– The Washington Times had a very interesting interview with the head of the national unity gathering Shaikh Abdul Latif Al Mahmood where he says that the Prime Minister should step down after he handles the crisis and after the crisis is over.  Straight after the article was published the National Unity Gathering issued a statement denying that he said that:  But then the journalist who interviewed him released the audio so they are kind of stuck. What’s funny is that from the interview, Shaikh Abdul Latif seemed to still admire the PM but just believed that he should retire and the King should appoint a fresh face after the crisis is over. But even him saying that is controversial – apparently saying that a 75 year old (I believe thats his age) should retire is a red line that no one can cross.

– The past three days are el tharba of imam Ali so there have been Azaa processions. Two processions were attacked by pro-regime thugs chanting the people want Khalifa Bin Salman. One of the processions was in the village of Bani Jamra and the other in the city of Muharraq.

– The Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs wrote a threatening letter to Shaikh Isa Qasim (who I can’t stand by the way – don’t like religious figures who talk in really low voices and act as if there is some halo on their head – but thats besides the point) telling him that his speeches are sectarian, that they encourage people to break the law, that he is inciting hatred, dividing the country etc. This is hilarious. He never said anything of that sort and in fact keeps telling people not to use the slogan “Al mawt li AlKhalifa). Of course the people who are actually inciting hatred are ignored because they are pro regime.The only reason I am telling you about this entire fiasco is because a lot of the protestors from the villages respect and revere Sh. Isa Qasim so this has made a lot of them very angry.

– The crown prince is back. He’s been visiting a couple of ramadhan majlis’s talking about peace and unity and love etc etc. On a recent visit to a majlis in the village of Buri, the villagers of Buri starting protesting and chanting slogans for the release of the prisoners. This pissed a lot of crown prince lovers off saying that the crown prince is their red line. Now where were these people when the village of Buri was attacked?

So my summary is as follows: Small protests continue. Attacks on villages continue. People are still angry. Bassiouni is acting like some mediator. Bahraini government is acting schizophrenic – saying one thing, doing another, changing its minds. They seem to have no plan. Each ministry is like its own country. King issues an order. No one follows which makes you wonder what the King is really up to.

Thanks for mentioning Bahrain on Al Jazeera. I wasn’t able to see the interview but please post it on your blog when you can! If you have any insights on what is happening please do share. Its getting really depressing.”

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