31 January 2007

Freedom of speech

In Bahrain, we are free to speak, a lot. In fact, we can speak all the time if we want. We totally have freedom of speech. I mean, that is what we tell the world. We also have political reform and democracy. We don't jail people for writing, or political speech, God forbid. We also never jail people for speaking peacefully against the elections. No. We only jail them for "disturbing the public interest."

That is what we do. Of course, by peacefully writing to call for an election boycott, Mohamed Said and Hussein AlHibshi disturbed that interest a lot. For the full menu of disturbance crimes available, please consult the press law of 2002.

Final piece of trivia, and to put things in perspective:
The 6-month and 1 year sentences to Dr. Said and Al-Hibshi was passed by the lower criminal court. It's the same court that will be hearing the case of the former Housing Bank GM, accused of corruption, misuse of power, stealing over BD 840,000 from the bank, distributing the banks furniture (go figure), faciliating financial crimes, and somewhat driving the bank to the ground. I guess that's almost as bad as writing something.

News of the sentence: http://www.elaph.com/ElaphWeb/Politics/2007/1/208028.htm


Ahmed said...

The sentencing of these very good men is nothing short of atrocious, scandalous, and an injustice on the apparent 'freedom of speech and expression' that we are supposed to have on this tiny little island we call Bahrain.

A good definition of democracy 'A system by which social equality is favoured. Democracy means "rule of the people". Democracy includes open discussion, direct voting on significant issues, policy formation in all realms of social life; economics, education, religion and public life.'

How can we call Bahrain a democratic country? Does the democracy we have in Bahrain remotely satisfy this definition of democracy? i think not....

A country which sentences two good men, who may i add, i have met and spoken to, for 1 year and 6 months, but allows torturers such as 3adil Flaifel walk the streets with will after torturing and killing many. Scandalous.

We need a change, and this change will not happen with this apparent 'elected' parliament, which when put into context, is useless, and nothing more than a media stunt to decieve the world that we live in a democratic country which we call a 'Kingdom'.

We need a change. Criminals need to be put to justice. I can go on and on, but i'm at work so i dont want to get in trouble!

May I end this comment by remembering all those who sacrificed and lost their lives at the hands of the same people who decieve many by calling bahrain a democratic country.

LuLu said...

Thanks so much Ahmed for your insight. I agree. There is absolutely nothing democratic about jailing people just for disagreeing with the government. It's a dangerous regression in Bahrain and I can only hope against all hope that it would stop at this and not regress further.

Ahmed said...

some may view my opinion as being exreme, but to put it how it is in its most basic form, as long as al khalifa are in power with the amount of power that they have, we cant hope to go anywhere far soon. There will be no development. I'm not saying lets overthrow the government, however, we as a nation should try our best to minimise there power and influence on the country. They can steal all the money they like, but we as citizens should be allowed to live our lives the way we want, without fearing an adverse outcome. The countries wealth needs to be ditributed among the poor as well as the rich. Look at the UAE as an example. I am so sure that Al Maktoum steal a lot of the countries money, but they also distribute a lot of it...who knows, theres a lot that needs to change....we used to be a nation who were proud to say we were bahrainis, but what is a bahraini now? an indian? syrian? yemeni?

LuLu said...

I think your second comment is understandable, but I disagree. I do not see this as a "royal family" issue. In a sense, no matter who is in power, the system is inherintly repressive and condusive to abuse of freedoms. I believe the opposition should refrain from approaching individuals (e.g. asking the King to issue a pardon) and instead focus on real systematic changes.. i.e. ask for concrete things that are achievable, quantifiable and will make a different (for example: a new press law, a new public gatherings law, even constitutional amendments). In the absence of concrete demands, just asking to "reduce the power of the family" is essentially just provocative. As a sympathizer with the opposition, I also think it's dangerous to use the terminology because it will sound like a personal attack and will draw defensive counter-attacks and feed into paranoias and suspicions already in existence..

Ahmed said...

My dear friend, lets face the facts here in black and white. Al-Khalifa have a problem with the Shia majority, and clearly view them as a big threat to themselves. As a result, we have essentially two groups at the opposite side of a huge spectrum.

'ask for concrete things that are achievable, quantifiable and will make a different (for example: a new press law, a new public gatherings law, even constitutional amendments)'

I dont believe that any of the suggestions you have made are achievable. Why you may ask? because anything that goes against the interest of the ruling family is not achievable. Its as simple as at. Do you really believe that it would be possible to have a totally uncensored press in Bahrain were by a journalist can say what they like without fearing the outcome? If one cannot even express there view by ditributing leaflets, how would it ever be possible to have a free press? Maybe I am a pessimist, but there is a reason for me to be when taking into account all the broken promises, lies and deception since 2001.

Just Barhraini said...

I agree with Ahmed. The systematic changes you suggested is not achievable and for the same reason, Shia’a will never be allowed to join Bahrain Defense Force. The ruling family are obsessed by the idea that Shia'a are looking for the day when they can kick Al-Khalifa family out of this country. And I can assure you that if some Shia'a got the chance to get rid of the ruling family they will do it without hesitation.

Bahrain’s Shia’a suffered for ages from depression, racism and oppression and this led to accumulated anger, hatred and suspicious relationship. The kind of trust and peace we are looking for can’t be built in a tensed political environment with all the recent collusion taking place, activist being arrested, daily demonstration, websites by people asking some members of the ruling family to step-out of the government.

The definition of democracy we are calling for is unfortunately misunderstood by both parties. Our democracy is not based on regulations or logical civilized discussions; it is based on hatred, violence, abuse and “Shut your mouth” policy.

I am not pessimistic but, the type of democracy we are practicing now will not end-up the historical conflict between Shia’s and Sunna.

LuLu said...

Look I understand why some will feel that the royal family hates them and historically oppressed them. There are also people on the other side who believe the Shia hate them and are waiting for the chance to take over them. But the fact is, we need to move forward past our historical issues. We have no choice and we need to find a way to talk and reach some sort of compromise. Vilifying and de-humanizing one faction or the other will not serve the purpose of a democratic, stable Bahrain.

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