12.23.2004

Quiz 4 & Quiz 5: Bonus Night

Sorry for the glitch last night. Being a bonus night, you lucky people get two questions tonight!

Quiz four:
In 300 words, describe the role the Press plays in upholding the principals of democracy in Bahrain!!! (Can't help it! Have to use exclamation marks!!)Isn't the Press the legal protector of any democracy? List, with the use of examples, how the Press has helped promote issues of justice and equality since the National Action Charter was given the vote of confidence by the people of Bahrain.

Quiz five:
Why do Bahrainis have no respect for people in uniform: policemen, security guards, officers and even traffic police? Why do Bahrainis have no trust in those people? Why is there no confidence in this important backbone to any society - those very people whose aim is to enhance public order and ensure the security and safety of citizens?

Lies, damn lies and statistics

In an astonishing report in today’s (23 December 2004), Gulf Daily News (the Bahraini Tabloid which masquerades as a responsible Newspaper) by Abdulrahman Fakhri – “Rights progress in Bahrain is praised”

I quote from the news-report:

“BAHRAIN has been praised in a global report on people's political and civil rights.

It has been praised for elections that meet international standards of ballot secrecy and vote counting, as well as for giving "satisfactory political space and media access for opposition movements".

The praise comes in a global report by the US-based Freedom House, an organisation which tracks political and civil rights around the world.”


After reading through the report – two questions started to haunt me. First, if this journalist Abdulrahman Fakhri really living in Bahrain? To write about the ‘Political and Civil Rights’ in Bahrain – he need not have read through the reports by FreedomHouse. All this gentleman had to do was to see with his own eyes, and hear with his own ears – of what is going around him in Bahrain.

When there is a grave situation in Bahrain – where close to 70 prisoners have gone on a hunger-strike requesting justice – how could a journalist who is worth his salt write a shameful news report based on a report by FreedomHouse.

The second question to cross my mind was, ‘who the heck is this freedomhouse’?

OK, they do have a website – www.freedomhouse.org

I am sure this is the chap who has compiled the report on Bahrain: Gary C. Gambill is the Editor of the Middle East Intelligence Bulletin and a Research Associate at the Middle East Forum. He has written extensively on Lebanese and Syrian politics, authoritarianism in the Arab World, and American foreign policy in the region. He serves as a Middle East analyst for Freedom in the World.

Here is the report on Bahrain:

http://www.freedomhouse.org/research/freeworld/2004/countryratings/bahrain.htm

The opening paragraph says
“After taking significant steps to reform its political system in 2001 and 2002, Bahrain pursued the reform process more slowly during 2003, effecting few significant developments on political rights and civil liberties.”


Now, Abdulrahman, that is not any praise at all.

This is the same FreedomHouse who has given USA top billing for guaranteeing democratic, civil and human rights to the inhabitants of that vast patch of land between Canada and Mexico.

The US government is definitely by the people, for the people and of the people. US government waged an illegal war in Iraq – without the approval of the Security Council or the General Assembly (UN). This is the same government, which bugged Hans Blix’s office!

Upholding democracy: The presidential election was a clear example of how corrupt the process of secret ballots and counting is all about in USA.

Civil Rights: Take another read of the Patriot Act

Human Rights: How about the continued violation of basic human rights of the prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Gharib prisons…

FreedomHouse gives USA the top price. FreedomHouse’s credibility is ridiculous. From some further reading of their website – this definitely looks like one of those right-wing – neo-con controlled organisation, cause their main activity seems to be checking on religious freedom – which roughly translates as the freedom and access the American Missionaries (fondling fathers to Coke) has in a certain country.

Coke goes well with American Christian values than with a double-shot of Rum. This is X’mas season, and it is good to remember that the Santa Claus we all have come to know of – was designed and created for a Coke campaign in the year 1932!!

Let us get back to Bahrain.

The freedomhouse report on Bahrain says
“Since taking office in 2002, the new government and National Assembly have not pressed forward with any significant steps to reform Bahrain's political system.”


In the 2004 Survey, which Abdulrahman has quoted in his report, I failed to see any mention of Bahrain.

Perhaps GDN has a different access to the freedomhouse reports.

This is the report what I see.

http://www.freedomhouse.org/media/pressrel/122004.htm

Stirrings of Change in the Middle East?

"The 2004 survey data reveal positive, albeit modest, trends in the Middle East and North Africa. While no countries in the region changed status, small gains were registered in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Qatar. Egypt's civil liberties score improved because of greater civic activism, particularly by women's advocacy groups. Jordan's civil liberties score improved due to improvements in women's rights and press freedom. Morocco's civil liberties score increased after the country passed one of the most liberal family codes in the Arab world. And Qatar's score improved as a result of gains in academic freedom. Notably, there were no gains in political rights registered in the Middle East and North Africa."


Not a SINGLE mention about BAHRAIN.

Qatar seems to be scoring more brownie points. Even Jordan wins a few votes of approval. None for Bahrain, I repeat – NONE.

Abdulrahman didn’t even hear about the Al-Khawaja affair, which tarnished Bahrain’s reputation at home and abroad. So much so for a journalist! I wonder what the Editor-in-chief of GDN was up to.

It is when Human Rights are violated that journalists have to stand up and be counted. They have a moral obligation of enlightening the people – of what is going on in their state.

The kind of trash that is hurled at the people through such lies, damn lies and statistics – as produced by Abdulrahman does more harm to the nation than the autocratic regime itself.

Freedom is worth everything to fight for. The likes of Abulrahman and the Editors of English language papers in Bahrain should read a lot more – perhaps read simple words spoken by Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.

Here is a question to all Bahrainis and Arabs… Name one Arab who has made a contribution towards Global Peace, Freedom and Democracy in the last 100 years.

This is your chance to be one.

In the meanwhile, I urge you all the readers to send emails to FreedomHouse – alerting them of the real Human/Civil rights situation in Bahrain.

fh@freedomhouse.org
rights@freedomhouse.org

Why the Caged Bird Can't Sing!

I'm sorry I couldn't post the letter because my Internet connection was down at home last night.

I don't want to say that the authorities had something to do with it, because this would be pushing it a bit. Will post it once my system is up and kicking.

Ahmed has been cut off from the outside world for a week now. Actually, this is Day eight that he has no contact whatsoever with the outside world.

When his family and lawyer went to see him yesterday, they were told they couldn't see him because he wasn't there!! Perhaps his captors took him out for a stroll. Maybe to even do some Christmas shopping? Don't know... but everything is possible with an arbitrary regime which has different measuring sticks for different people of different ethnic backgrounds. Maybe they developed an overnight compassion for a handsome Shia boy, who has a fair complexion, sun-kissed with a little bit of freckles, tall (compared to average Bahraini people), broad-shouldered with golden brown hair which turns golden golden when it grows longer.

Anyway, Ahmed's looks are not the issue here. Let me tell you a little about the cell Ahmed has been in for the last seven months and two weeks - the last could be described as being in solitary confinement.

The cell is small and dirty. Each cell cages four inmates. And the inmates.. Oh! The inmates! Well, hard core junkies, heroin addicts, the works. Some infected with the deadly disease Aids. All share the same cell. There are bunker beds there. Two on either side. A small alley divides them. At the end of the cell, there is a dirty bathroom. Saloon style bathroom, with swinging doors, which can't be closed behind you. So you have no privacy. Not even when you are emptying your tank. This is about the size of the cell.

All in all, there are 16 cells in a row. All full. All with four people awaiting justice in each.

To add insult to injury, the hunger strike prisoners have been locked up in their cells for the past TWO weeks. They haven't been allowed to sit in the sun and cold in an asphalted courtyard, which doesn't even have a shaded area.

Have Amnesty International ever visited this great custody and correction centre which should be listed as Bahrain's new Guantanamo Bay Prison on all tourist maps?

I wonder.