'US complicit in Bahrain govt. crimes'
Press TV has interviewed Dr. Saeed al-Shehabi, from the Bahrain Freedom Movement, to ask for his insight into the latest developments regarding Bahrain.
(Press TV) --
The following is the transcript of the interview, which was also supported by two other guests, Nabeel Rajab, and Rodney Shakespeare.
Press TV: I'd like to turn to you Dr. Shehabi about this situation. Of course, you yourself are one of the people that are wanted in your country in Bahrain and have been tried in absentia. Tell me about this situation, how are they able to get away with setting up a so-called court system? And, as Mr. Rajab has said, there are basically no representation from lawyers, no rights basically, no access to legal counseling, plus being tortured. And yet, there is silence, for the most part, from the international community. How are they able to get away with what we call, in my country, the United States, a kangaroo court?
Saeed al-Shehabi: As we heard from Nabeel Rajab, these people are continuing to do what they have been doing not for weeks but for decades. Why are they allowed to get away with it? There is a very very simple and straightforward answer: [because of the] the United States' support, Britain's support. These two countries have not wavered in their support for this [Bahraini] regime; they have never said a word of real condemnation, apart from expressing concerns as a way to respond to increasing criticism coming from the public media and from NGO's in the West.
Apart from that, it is very clear that the White House is giving its full political, security and moral support to the [Bahraini] regime. So the Bahraini regime feels that it is free to do whatever it likes. It sentences people to death. I mean these two people who have been sentenced to death now have been severely tortured. I mean you cannot have the execution and the judgment on the same person. You can't be the judge and the executioner at the same time. But they are, they are the judges and the executioners. And they adopt torture as the main weapon to get confessions in order to convince the world that these people were violent. There was no violence, these two people simply did not kill the policemen. As simple as that. We challenge this regime. We challenge the United States. We challenge the British government who say that...
Of course, they apparently agree that two policemen were killed by them. We challenge anybody to prove in an open court of law that these people did kill two policemen. They did not kill anybody.
Only last week, we heard how the famous and renowned human rights activist, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja said that if he didn't apologize to the King openly, the regime forces would rape him. To what level do you expect people to sink before they are categorized as evil?
Press TV: Last month, Bahrain's foreign minister was in Doha at a conference dealing with Libya's future. And it was said that the King of Bahrain “supports the efforts to solve the Libyan problem with his political, security and humanitarian dimensions and backs all international efforts that lead to ensuring the humanitarian needs of the Libyan people.”
Is that to you a strange comment coming from the Bahraini regime? And why would the Bahraini government make that comment about the Libyan government and yet be doing totally the opposite at home?
Saeed al-Shehabi: Only two days ago, the Independent newspaper in London published a front-page story saying that [British Prime Minister David] Cameron embraces tyranny. I don't think you can ever have a stronger headline than that. OK? However, this foreign minister would come and suggest that the world should deal with the situation in Libya with compassion, and fulfill humanitarian needs. Of course these are good words, but they shouldn't have come from a person whose government has sacked more than 3,000 people, not for committing any mistake or being unprofessional in their work, but simply because they might have taken a role in [anti-government] demonstrations, [or because] maybe they have participated in a protest. A regime that has prevented the doctors and the nurses from undertaking and administering their own profession to the needy and to those who were injured... Why should these people be sacked? Why should they be tried? I don't discount personally that even, among those doctors and nurses, some of them may be accused falsely of hilarious accusations. And they could even be sentenced to death.
We know that this regime is hypocritical and inhumane, and [that it would] do in this country what it would ask the world not to allow to happen in other countries.
Press TV: US President Barack Obama said that he hears the shouts of human dignity being heard across the Middle East. What does that mean, do you think, when it comes to Bahrain?
Saeed al-Shehabi: He has a time delay of at least two months in hearing anything. The mosques started to be destroyed more than two months ago, and only now, does he say something and mention that the mosques shouldn't be destroyed. And the minute he said it, the [Bahraini] regime rushed to say that they will rebuild some of the mosques. ... Mr. Obama didn't mention the torture. He didn't say that at least four people were killed under torture. He would not really uncover the truth and the true face of the [Bahraini] regime. And this is why the Bahraini people consider the US as complicit in what is going on in Bahrain. Because they [the Americans] are aware of what is going on -- the British embassy is there, the US embassy is there in Manama. They saw how the trucks went and destroyed the mosques, how various villages were attacked, and were ransacked. Only two days ago, the Nuwaidrat village was attacked severely, and I am sure tonight various other places would be attacked in the same way.
The Americans are aware of what is going on, but they only choose the moment and the subject about which they want to speak out.
Press TV: What should be done as far as the people campaign...? What is the answer at this point in time from your perspective?
Saeed al-Shehabi: I think more pressure on the regime, more collective action [is needed]... I think breaking the siege on Bahrain as there were some attempts recently, ... sending ships to Bahrain carrying essential aid for the people. Because the people are dying of dire consequences of the [Bahraini] regime's actions.
And one final point, I think it is time that Bahraini people should sue the torturers because without suing the torturers and killers, more people would be executed in the name of law, and in addition to those who were killed under torture.
Related: The Jim Crow State of Bahrain
Sunni-Shiite tensions rise as discrimination grows
Manama (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Ethnic and religious discrimination is growing in Bahrain, this according the International Crisis Group (ICG), a Brussels-based international advocacy and crisis resolution NGO.
ICG warns that the Shiite community—as much as 70 per cent of the population—is increasingly politically and socially marginalised with the effect that sectarian tensions between Sunnis and Shiites are rising.
Similarly, the gap between the government and the opposition is widening at a time of rising unemployment and poverty.
In 2001, Bahrain's ruler, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, had announced a sweeping reform plan for the island nation of 700,000 people. However, reform so far has failed in two important respects according to the ICG.
First, the touted new political contract between rulers and ruled has not changed the social structure. Secondly, reforms have not tackled sectarian discrimination and tensions. Indeed, the latter have been exacerbated, as the majority Shiite community feels increasingly politically marginalised and socially disadvantaged.
For instance, the ICG report shows how electoral districts are drawn to guarantee a Sunni majority in parliament even though they are a minority in the country. By the same token, Sunnis from other Arab countries have been naturalised and admitted into the army and the police (about 60,000).
Sunnis also dominated public sector employment, especially in the ministries of the Interior and Defence.
Shiites are instead increasingly coming under suspicion for their ties to co-religionists in Iran and Iraq.
They are also not allowed to live in the 'Riffa' neighbourhood, a residential area reserved for the royal family and Sunnis which is just a stone throw from Sitra, an area where one the poorest Shiite communities live.
In the last few months, public protests have increased with people taking to the streets to stage demonstrations. On March 25, the main Shiite party—Jama 'iyyat al-Wifaq al-Watani al-Islamiyya—defied a government ban and rallied thousands of people in Sitra demanding constitutional reforms.
Given the situation, the government has taken "increasingly aggressive moves", resorting more and more "to police tactics and authoritarian measures to maintain order." (PB)...LINK
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Speaking today at a high profile America-Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC) conference, President Barack Obama faced what could have potentially been a hostile audience in the wake of condemnation by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for calling on Israel to be open to giving up occupied territories.
So he did what politicians trying to satisfy the pro-Israel lobby have been doing from time immemorial – he condemned Iran. Midway through a comparatively short speech, he promised the US would continue to escalate “pressure” on Iran, and accused the nation of trying to make nuclear weapons.
“We remain committed to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons,” Obama declared, to thunderous applause. He then went on to accuse Iran of “hypocrisy” for criticizing the violent crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Bahrain. Obama declared earlier in the week that the US was committed to supporting the Bahrani regime and that the crackdowns showed they simply wanted a return to the “rule of law.”
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