Sunday, December 30, 2012
Saturday, December 29, 2012
Monday, December 24, 2012
Saturday, December 22, 2012
Sunday, December 9, 2012
Believe it or not: the regime imports ignorant mercenaries from all around the world to cover the shortage caused that rather than giving a chance to those who are unemployed.
Believe it or not: in the country where its young people suffer from poverty and unemployment, naturalization was used extensively to change its demographics. The regime has naturalized around 50 to 60.000 for political reasons.
Believe it or not: in the Supreme Defense Council members of the ruling family occupy 13 seats out of 14. In the Ministry of Interior Shiites make up 10% of the positions whereas the ruling family occupies 35% and Sunnis occupy the remaining posts.
These are only pieces of the brutal reality and let me conclude: this small island had more revolutions since 1923 than any other country - not because of its sectarian combination - but because we are facing a regime which strives on repression, discrimination and corruption.
Do not let the Bahraini regime justify its crimes using the sectarian strife that it has created. And do not allow the international community to justify its failure due to divisions created by the regime.
Bahrain's problem is not in people demanding equality and justice.
But rather in a system that detests equality and justice.
Saturday, December 8, 2012
In the year 2004 I was volunteering in a human rights committee to monitor violations and help victims of torture, when a young graceful man entered. He was about my age, and would only speak to the committee of veteran human rights activists upon my departure. I left the committee with a heavy sense of humiliation, but after only a few minutes the same man came hastily out after wetting his pants. I looked away to avoid embarrassing him, but our eyes met for a glimpse, I still to this day remember the look in his eyes; a combination of oppression, pain, anger, shame and despair.
Friday, December 7, 2012
Lamees Dhaif's Speech at the United Nations, BahrainUPR in Geneva 21st May 2012 on testimonies regarding Freedom of Speech
I stand before you today as a living example of the price paid by anyone practicing freedom of speech in Bahrain.
Before 1 year, 2 months and 4 days I left Bahrain. I know it exactly because I count by the day. When I was packing to leave, everyone (including myself) thought it was temporary: weeks or a few months. Only my mother, because of the sense of motherhood, knew that I will be gone for a long time. That’s why she hugged me tightly and said: You are my eyes; from this day onwards, I would be blind.
My mother preferred to live “without her sight” rather than me losing my life or getting arrested and tortured, as what happened with my own sister who was kidnapped at dawn, detained, tortured and forced to confess to fabricated charges. Her only crime was performing her job and treating injured demonstrators.
My only crime was that I did my job and did not accept to become a false witness, and I did not accept being manipulated to say only what the authorities intended me to say, as what happened with my colleagues who gave up their morals for rewards and high-ranking posts while those who adhered to the rights of people deserved abuse and intimidation. Certainly, I am not the only victim. Every Bahraini citizen who stood against the regime paid a price in the form of detention, torture, job termination, denial of services and scholarships, and some people even lost their lives as a price for opposing the regime.
Recently, the government enacted a law to imprison anyone condemning the King up to 5 years with a fine of around 40 thousand dollars. Lately, the government began a campaign to monitor the activists on social media, who sought cyberspace to express themselves freely, and threatened to sue them for that. The regime already dismissed thousands from their study and work, investigated and arrested lots of youth because of something they wrote or recapped on social media and we do not know what step might be taken further to suppress any opinion that expose the regime.
I do not know what to say. My words stumble before the amount of suffering I see in my country. I know one thing for sure: that the world does not care about what is happening to us and that everyone intentionally turns their back on our daily suffering. In conclusion, please let me ask you: don’t we have the right to live like others, like yourselves, or are we a different type of human beings? We do not demand more than our right for justice and democracy, our right for dignity to live as citizens not as slaves, and our right to say what we witness and think without putting our lives or future at stake. Since you call for democracy, why don’t you help us achieve it?
A list comprising 18 individuals that needed to be executed has been distributed by loyalists. My name was the sixth! I was the only one from the media field. The rest were jurists and politicians. I was not surprised especially that my voice was high, my pen very critical, and I was the fiercest among colleagues in exposing violations. As a result, I have become one of the regime’s most important targets. My house was attacked twice by pro-government thugs. Death threat calls and threats of kidnapping were a daily dose for me. That’s why I expected my arrest at any moment, especially after my arrest was rumored on that day for a reason that I still do not understand.
The regime has lost its senses.
I left my house to relieve some of the concern my family and friends had on my safety. Every night I used to prepare clothes for my arrest. After key political figures and activists were arrested with their pajamas, I decided to sleep with clothes "suitable" for the arrest. Then I decided to prepare clothes that took less than a minute to be worn.
At 3:30 am on March 19th, there was a loud knock on my door. I peeked into the door's magic eye where I saw Mohammad, my sister's husband, and thus realized that the "zero hour" has arrived. I told him quietly: "A minute". In less than a minute I opened the door. I was ready. I was ready to hear from him that the military mobbed his home in order to arrest me. I was ready to face the huge masked men whom we heard about in the last few days, ready to face the investigator's poisoned way of thinking, ready to be suffocated by water, beaten with a plastic hose, and even electrocuted. I was ready for everything and anything except the three words uttered by Mohammed:
"They took Nada".
Suddenly, my strength turned into weakness and my courage was crushed. "How .. why .. Is there some sort of mistake?" I asked.
I found myself in front of a lot of questions but very few answers.
A group of 5 riot vehicles had surrounded my father's house in the Zinj at 2 am that same night. 16-20 masked men stormed the house. Unfortunately, my elder sister's son had spent the night at our house and thus witnessed the horror that my family had gone through and until the next day he thought they had come to arrest me. The masked men had pointed their machine guns in the face of my mother and father. They threatened to blow up one of my brothers' head in front of my parents. The picture of the blown- up head of martyr Ahmed Farhan was still present in everybody's memory. They threatened to arrest and torture my 60-year-old father. And they would have done more atrocious things had they not known that my brother works in the judiciary system. My brother was forced to go with them to Nada's house so half of the masked men left with him while the rest had kept my family members as hostages until the job was completed.
Who would have imagined!
My family kept as hostages?! Masked men occupying my house and brandishing machine guns at the foreheads of my brothers!
I would not have seen anything like this even in my worst nightmares!
What did Nada do that deserves an arrest?!! She is not a member of any organization, not involved in politics, and does not even work in the largest government hospital. She has volunteered, as a physician, to treat demonstrators. Did she turn into "Bin Laden" because she treated the victims of the military? What will they do to her? Will she receive a double dose of punishment because she is my sister?
Incomplete thoughts, each thought cuts the idea of the previous one.. Another thought jumps and cancels it before it was completed. I reached Nada's house. Everyone was in shock but at the same time trying to calm the other. My mother called and tried to sound strong, but I can sense her muted anger and I can taste tears in her words. She told me that they showed off their power, but they are not as powerful as Allah.
I tried to console my brothers who started arriving at my sister's house. I also tried to calm down Mohammad who seemed as if his soul has left his body. Suddenly, an indescribable cold feeling ran through my body although the weather was warm. I rushed to Nada's closet to take one of her coats or perhaps run away from everybody's eyes. I went to her room, and I can smell her perfumes. I opened the closet and pulled a fur coat. In a glimpse, I recalled her smile and I felt a sickening pain in my stomach.
Nada is in prison now!! The dirty hands of the military personnel extend to pull her. Can she bear such humiliation?! Another thought stormed my head.. What I will say to Lulwa and Alia when they wake up later and not find their mum?
I wish they had arrested me, hanged me, torn me to pieces, but not taken my sister!
Will they approve taking me as a substitute instead or her?
Everything paused in my head. I engaged in bitter weeping in the middle of her closet trying to hide my tears with my hand and hide my cries that wanted to penetrate the ceiling and shake the walls. I can hear the Dawn prayer now.
Let me first tell you a little about my country. I come from the smallest country in the Arab world, the Kingdom of Bahrain. It lies in the middle of the Arabian Gulf where the number of its indigenous population is 570,000. The number of foreigners and expatriates exceed the number of locals, but I tell you - with pride - that despite the geographic and demographic facts, we are giants in our courage and determination to achieve our legitimate rights.
My country, my dear, is governed by the same ruling family since 230 years ago. In my country the indigenous people are treated as second-class citizens and others are imported from abroad to replace them and assist in their suppression and persecution. When this Bedouin family entered our country in the year 1782, the indigenous citizens "who are generally farmers and fishermen" welcomed them ignorantly not knowing that they are jeopardizing their future and the future of their grandchildren.
Historically, the vast majority of the people of Bahrain are Shiite Muslims while the ruling family is Sunni. This did not cause friction among citizens until they found that the royal family imported Sunnis from various countries and nationalities to change the demographic composition of the country.
Throughout our history, our country has had several uprisings and revolutions in which the regime suppressed all of them using all types of means. During the fifties, sixties, seventies and the eighties of the past century, thousands of people lost their jobs and entire families were deported by putting them in boats and sending them to the unknown. Lots of oppositionists were also arrested and tortured to death both from the Shiites and Sunnis. People opposing the regime were targeted and attacked because they opposed the power or stood with the oppressed people.
In 1999, the formal Amir, Shaikh Isa Bin Salman Al-Khalifa passed away. And I call him formal because the real ruler of Bahrain for more than 50 years, is his brother, Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman, who is characterized as savvy and malice. The young Crown Prince - Hamad bin Isa – became the ruler of the country. When he took the throne, he ordered for the detainees to be released, the exiled to return to the country, and allowed for the establishment of a parliament. He promised reforms to the extent that people wanted to carry him on their necks. But the hands of his uncle, the Prime Minister and some members of the royal family were determined to enslave the indigenous people, especially citizens, which led to the erosion of reforms from the inside and the return of torture and systematic discrimination. The regime naturalized foreigners in an attempt to erase the identity of the country. Corruption and stealing public money was also underway. It became vital for people to revolt, my friend. The identity of their country was buried in front of their eyes. People were ethnically and religiously persecuted while they stand still to see how the looting of the country’s resources took place for the benefit of the ruling family and their allies.
The factors of the revolution were thus complete and we were encouraged by the Arab Spring in which you in Tunisia became the first precursors. We went out on the streets requesting our rights, justice, and freedom, but we were attacked with tanks, machine guns, and tear gas. They beat us without mercy. They arrested our key oppositionist figures, our women, and our children. They brutally tortured people and cut off their salaries. The regime also tried to intimidate and crush our revolution using help from the armies of neighboring countries in addition to its own. But our unarmed people stood proud and steadfast and are still standing to defy the might of tyrants with their faith and determination.
This is briefly, my friend, the story of the great people of my country. I will tell you next time about my story and that of my mother and my sister, the dentist who was sentenced for 15 years for treating injured protesters. I will tell you about my story in exile. I will tell you the stories of Fadheela, Bahia, Ibrahim Sharif and Khawaja. They are our heroes so that you will get to know the courageousness and bravery of my people.
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
I address the OHCHR delegation that is visiting Bahrain, not as an activist but as a person who knew the regime more than I wanted
They are masters of deceit. When you talk to them, they would empathize with you and tell you exactly what you want to hear UN Bahrain