1.06.2005

Vote of Thanks!

Thank you Mahmood, Chanad, Sume, Hawk Eyes and last but not least Destiny for your support to Ahmed's plight.

Your prayers and good will means a lot to all those concerned. They mean the world to Ahmed and his suffering family.

For those who don't know what I am talking about, here is what those "freedom fighters" have posted on their blogs regarding Ahmed's condition.

Mahmood, on www.mahmood.tv, wrote:

"Winds of Change Tue, 04 Jan 2005 11:52:32

A few things I have noticed recently in the local papers, particularly Al-Wasat, which is filling me with anticipation and hope that the reforms train is not stopping and has now gathered enough public momentum that it can't even be derailed without dire consequences:

1. There are open cries to bring corruptors to book, naming and shaming those who have been exposed as is the case of the former head of the Housing Bank.

2. There is open encouragement to participate in the 2006 elections, rather than boycott. An interview with a leading Shi'ite cleric in Lebanon who has immense following in Bahrain stopped short of issuing a Fatwa for Bahrainis to participate and vote in the forthcoming elections, warning them that all they have achieved by boycotting the parliamentary elections is just being sidelined by the establishment.

This was followed today by Dhiya' Al-Mousawi's direct plea to participate in the forthcoming elections as well as Mansour Al-Jamri's editorial piece urging the same and warning of the ineffectiveness of "hot air" by the boycotters.Unfortunately, both Al-Mousawi and Al-Jamri seem to have fallen from grace with the populace, most of whom are Wefaq members or sympathisers who have mounted immense besmirching campaigns against the two journalists.

3. Another reporter is encouraging people to just start writing letters of objection directly to any particular minister if they have an issue with his ministry, even the prime minister. He (Abbas Busafwan) was furtive in his suggestion however.. you can almost visualise him ducking as he's ending his column!

These are excellent and healthy signs. We have not seen this before, at least not encouraging citizens to write their complaints on an individual level, rather than collective petitions which have proven to be too sensitive and bitter for the government to swallow. Objecting as an individual is more personal and I bet will have much more force.

We can start sharpening our pencils immediately by demanding that justice be served in the various aspects of Bahrain.

a) We can demand that the case against the former head of the Housing Bank proceeds through the courts and if convicted should be stripped of his wealth and imprisoned. We can write to the Minister of Works and Housing for this issue.

b) We can write to the president of the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee MP Ahmed Behzad to demand that justice to be served by immediately releasing all non-violent prisoners from the Adliya prison on bail, and they be presented to a speedy trial. Further, put in place mechanism that ensures quick and just trials are the norm, rather than the exception. I see no reason why not write to the Minister of the Interior as well on the same issue. "

Bahraini Chanad, on http://www.chanadbahraini.blogspot.com, wrote on Tuesday, December 21, 2004 the following:


"Free Ahmed (and fix the judiciary)

If you haven't checked it out already, please visit the Free Ahmed Blog. Ahmed was arrested in May of this year on drug related charges. It has been seven months since his arrest, but he still has not faced a trial or been released on bail.

On the 12th of December, Ahmed and 63 other prisoners in similar situations commenced a hunger strike demanding either an immediate trial for their cases, or that they be released on bail until then. (To read news reports, click here).

In the new democratic era of Bahrain, the judiciary is the institution that is most in need of an overhaul. No one has any faith in our judges, if one is luck enough to get a trial that is.

Like the 64 prisoners on hunger strike, there are also hundreds of other maids and expat labourers who have been abused, but get no justice because it takes so long to get a trial that no one bothers (read this).

Ask Mahmood, and he will tell you about how it is a waste of time going to the courts for a fair verdict about a business related conflict, so instead most people will take a loss and settle out of court.

I'm not sure exactly what we should be doing to fix the problem, but it's important that we continue discussing the issue. Hopefully this will pave the way towards formulating a plan to bring about change."

And last but not least, Sume whose sharp and witty observations can be found on http://www.ethnicallyincorrect.blogspot.com/, wrote on Monday, January 03, 2005:

"Ahmad who?

The story of Ahmad was brought to my attention by some commenters on a couple of my posts.

Out of curiosity, I went googling to find out more about who this person was and his situation. Of course, first, I followed the link to the Free Ahmad Blog and found more information on the situation. I found a post on Chan'ad's blog also, but I wanted to know more. I spent an hour googling, but came up pretty much empty after searching for "free ahmad". I found lots of Ahmads. There was The Free Ahmad Batebi Petition in Iran, Free Ahmad Saadat of Palestine, Free Ahmad Nelson in the U.S. but no Free Ahmad of Bahrain.

Who is this Ahmad?

An open letter on the blog says: In May 2004, Ahmed (born September 20, 1976) was arrested in drug-related charges.Ahmed was literally "kidnapped" by the authorities from the doorsteps of his Muharraq home at 10pm, on Friday, May 7.He was "snatched" by the Bahraini CID forces as he returned from shopping with his heavily-pregnant wife, and his four-year-old son. He was whisked off in a police car and another CID official took his car. His wife did not know what had happened to him. His family only knew he was in custody after THREE days from his arrest. He was not given access to a lawyerÂ… or the right to make a phone call. I don't know if those things happen in television only or whether they apply to real life.He was taken to the CID headquarters in Adliya, Manama, after his arrest and remains there until today.He was taken to court a few weeks after his arrest. The Public Prosecutor says that the case is still under investigation and the court adjourns every hearing for another 45 days.Today (December 11), his family again went through the agonizing wait for justice. Ahmed was due to appear in court. Again the hearing was adjourned until January 15. This time, no reason was given.

Justice delayed is indeed justice denied.

I cannot help but shed a little bit of light on Ahmed:
He had a stable job for the last 10 years (10 years - with the same company day in and day out) And now he doesn't have this job anymore.
He has not been involved in any criminal cases.His police file was clean.
He was about to embark on his master's degree programme.
He is a loving father, and he has still not seen his newborn daughter.
He has nothing left now.

I don't know much else other than the little information I was able to find on the blog and in a few newspaper articles which are also posted on the blog.

I'm just an outsider in a country halfway around the globe, but what brings this story home for me are the hundreds of people swept up after 9/11.

People just started disappearing and we still don't know what happened to many of them. Lives were destroyed, families were devastated, there was no due process and no one even knew who many of these people were.

Many people lost trust in our justice system and our government as civil rights were whittled away.

This is about justice and human rights. They should be universal for every person. Everyone should have the right to due process and decent treatment while they're in custody. Innocent until proven guilty, remember?

What I find even more sad is that I can't even get a google hit on this Ahmad. Imagine being in a situation like this and very few people knowing about it. Imagine being in a situation like this in a country that not many people know about, at least in this area of the globe.

This is changing as Bahrain gets more international attention which is a good thing for many reasons.

Personally, I look forward to the day when people stop telling me not to go to Bahrain, because the Saudis treat their women like crap.Yes, I know Bahrain is a country all by itself and not in Saudi Arabia, but there are people who don't. I hadn't even heard of it a few months ago. Since that time, I've done as much research as my brain would allow.

Bahrain seems to be having growing some growing pains. I wouldn't expect it to go from a monarchy to a democracy overnight. There's so many kinks to work out.

What I find encouraging is that we've heard about Ahmad at all.

That might not have been the case not too long ago. Bahrainis have a voice and they're using it.

I hope everyone is listening.Please check out the Free Ahmad Blog and let them know their voices are being heard."

Bless you all.

Quiz Time 19

Today's question is: Since there seems to be a "breakthrough" in the situation of Bahrain's SIX detainees at Guantanamo Bay, will the authorities look with compassion at the detainees being held without access to a fair and just trial on its own soil? Afterall, those in glasshouses should never throw others with stones.

What do people with any sense of decency and respect to human rights have to say about the appalling conditions in which Ahmed has been held in since May 7?

Will there be a breakthrough in his situation as well? Will human rights societies rally for his cause as well?

Will the Ministry of Interior which is sending a team to Guantanamo look at itself long and deep in the mirror to see how they are treating their own citizens and why they are denying them justice?

Can the authorities there stand up and ask themselves: Mirror Mirror on the Wall, who's the cruelest of them all?