Imagine your daughter stood with a friend outside the FI race course wearing a T shirt, bearing the images of Abdulhadi al Khawaja, the defence lawyer and Ahmed Humaidan, a photo-journalist. Rihana al Mousawi and Nafeesa al Asfoor were arrested on April 20th 2013 at a peaceful demonstration. They were about to be released with no charges when suddenly they were detained, interrogated and charged with attempting to get a bomb into the FI Race! They have been detained for nine months, accused of terrorism and trying to overthrow the regime.
At their first trial on 11th July, Rihana bravely spoke of how she had been stripped and threatened with rape and electric shots if she didn’t confess to the male officers. She was forced to stand as an open door so that the prisoners could see her. She was denied water and food for a day and fell unconscious, with only a 15 minutes’ break between interrogation sessions. All Judge Dhahrini noted down in court was “improper moral treatment!” She was sentenced to five years in October for being a member of the 14th February Coalition in a trial with no proper process, no chance for the detainees to speak or for the defence lawyers to make their case. The Appeal session in on 24th January for the 14th February Coalition and 30th January for the bomb making charge.
Rihanna is a mother of three young children. She has multiple breast lumps but she was refused permission by the prison to get treatment. Her husband got authorisation from the Public Prosecutor, but she missed 4 hospital appointments. She has a dislocation of her jaw joints which requires a special diet and a TMT splint, neither of which she’s been given.
The Appeal will be handled by Ali Dhahrini, son of Judge Dharini who sent them down in the first place. If the lawyers can’t get recognition of their clients’ torture and acceptance of their pre-defence papers, they will walk out in protest.
The international legal and political communities must condemn this situation of illegal trials and forced confessions after torture. Why the silence? There was a lot of pressure for the Pussy Girls and Greenpeace activists. Are the lives of the Bahrainis unimportant?
The situation is getting worse for Ebrahim Demastani who has been on a hunger strike to get medical treatment since 20th December 2013. (See: BCHR article 22.1.2014 and Rula Safur’s statement on his conviction and health in Gulf News 22.1.2014.)
Rula Safur, Head of the Bahrain nurses said he was sentenced to 3 years for helping an injured man who came to his door, and sending him on to hospital. He was accused of “spreading false rumours about the wounded and gathering without authorisation.” He has completed 16 months of his sentence since going to prison on October 12th 2012.
Ebrahim had a prolapsed disc when he was detained in 2011 and when the torturers found out they kicked him in the back and fractured his coccyx.
He was detained again in 2012 and has received no treatment. He is in constant pain.
There is a Court Order for Specialised Treatment but nothing happened. He recently saw a doctor’s assistant who refused to examine him physically or take an x ray. Although the last x ray is three years old.
He has no winter clothes and has been unable to see his lawyer for three months.
Although there is supposed to be a dialogue going on, it is not improving the medical care or conditions for prisoners.
What can you do? Please write to you M.P. or Congressman.
Bahrain Flag to be Replaced on Revolution’s 3rd Anniversary
Perhaps, the most significant move the informal opposition has ever made, since the popular anti-regime revolution sparked in Bahrain was the announcement for a Republic state. The announcement has effectively delegitimized the absolute Monarchy that was imposed by the “self-proclaimed” (king) and dictator Hamad Alkhalifa a decade ago.
The informal opposition movements, namely, Alwafa Islamic Movement, Haqq Movement and Bahrain Freedom Movement have rightly heeded the calls of the masses at the Pearl Square, that the Monarchy was no longer sustainable, and the sovereign people of Bahrain shall embrace their legitimate right to self-determination.
Almost three years have passed since the historic moment at the Pearl Square, when prominent opposition leader Hasan Mushaima (currently serving life imprisonment) announced Bahrain to become a Democratic Republic state. Indeed, the people have had high expectations from the informal opposition movements and supported the announcement with little hesitation.
Turning a country’s governing system from a monarchy into a democratic republic is a nationwide matter. It would certainly lead to critical changes to the entire troubled region of the (Persian) Gulf. It is a challenge the three informal movements have vowed to take. However, so far they have taken no single step forward.
Our people have been paying high price just to keep the revolution alive, hoping that “someday someone will do something”. The two sides in the conflict -the sovereign people and the illegitimate regime- have been in a stalemate.
This wait shall not continue indefinitely.
At this point, the revolution needs “political escalation” the most. An increasing number of decentralized anti-regime factions and social networks have launched a peaceful campaign to replace the current red-and-white flag, which the self-proclaimed king modified without obtaining consent of the sovereign people of Bahrain a decade ago.
Challenging the forged flag is a step on the right direction. Alliance of Youth of Change endorsed the campaign last month.
As no specific flag prototype has been announced yet, Alliance of Youth of Change has made one that reflects the “land”, the “culture” and the “people” of Bahrain. If no design is agreed by February 14th 2014, the Alliance will consider its design and will formally replace the current flag with the new one.
Alliance of Youth of Change will publish the proposed flag prototype by the end of January for consideration.
Alliance of Youth of Change
January 15, 2014
Imperialism and NGOs in Latin America
James Petras – September, 1997
By the early 1980s the more perceptive sectors of the neoliberal ruling classes realized that their policies were polarizing the society and provoking large-scale social discontent. Neoliberal politicians began to finance and promote a parallel strategy “from below,” the promotion of “grassroots” organization with an “anti-statist” ideology to intervene among potentially conflictory classes, to create a “social cushion.” These organizations were financially dependent on neoliberal sources and were directly involved in competing with socio-political movements for the allegiance of local leaders and activist communities. By the 1990s these organizations, described as “nongovernmental,” numbered in the thousands and were receiving close to four billion dollars world-wide.
Neoliberalism and the NGOs
The confusion concerning the political character of the nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) stems from their earlier history in the 1970s during the days of the dictatorships. In this period they were active in providing humanitarian support to the victims of the military dictatorship and denouncing human rights violations. The NGOs supported “soup kitchens” which allowed victimized families to survive the first wave of shock treatments administered by the neoliberal dictatorships. This period created a favorable image of NGOs even among the left. They were considered part of the “progressive camp.”
Even then, however, the limits of the NGOs were evident. While they attacked the human rights violations of local dictatorships, they rarely denounced the U.S. and European patrons who financed and advised them. Nor was there a serious effort to link the neoliberal economic policies and human rights violations to the new turn in the imperialist system. Obviously the external sources of funding limited the sphere of criticism and human rights action.
As opposition to neoliberalism grew in the early 1980s, the U.S. and European governments and the World Bank increased their funding of NGOs. There is a direct relation between the growth of social movements challenging the neoliberal model and the effort to subvert them by creating alternative forms of social action through the NGOs. The basic point of convergence between the NGOs and the World Bank was their common opposition to “statism.” On the surface the NGOs criticized the state from a “left” perspective defending civil society, while the right did so in the name of the market. In reality, however, the World Bank, the neoliberal regimes, and western foundations co-opted and encouraged the NGOs to undermine the national welfare state by providing social services to compensate the victims of the multinational corporations (MNCs). In other words, as the neoliberal regimes at the top devastated communities by inundating the country with cheap imports, extracting external debt payment, abolishing labor legislation, and creating a growing mass of low-paid and unemployed workers, the NGOs were funded to provide “self-help” projects, “popular education,” and job training, to temporarily absorb small groups of poor, to co-opt local leaders, and to undermine anti-system struggles.
The NGOs became the “community face” of neoliberalism, intimately related to those at the top and complementing their destructive work with local projects. In effect the neoliberals organized a “pincer” operation or dual strategy. Unfortunately many on the left focused only on “neoliberalism” from above and the outside (International Monetary Fund, World Bank) and not on neoliberalism from below (NGOs, micro-enterprises). A major reason for this oversight was the conversion of many ex-Marxists to the NGO formula and practice. Anti-Statism was the ideological transit ticket from class politics to “community development,” from Marxism to the NGOs.
Typically, NGO ideologues counterpose “state” power to “local” power. State power is, they argue, distant from its citizens, autonomous, and arbitrary, and it tends to develop interests different from and opposed to those of its citizens, while local power is necessarily closer and more responsive to the people. But apart from historical cases where the reverse has also been true, this leaves out the essential relation between state and local power—the simple truth that state power wielded by a dominant, exploiting class will undermine progressive local initiatives, while that same power in the hands of progressive forces can reinforce such initiatives.
The counterposition of state and local power has been used to justify the role of NGOs as brokers between local organizations, neoliberal foreign donors (World Bank, Europe, or the United States) and the local free market regimes. But the effect is to strengthen neoliberal regimes by severing the link between local struggles and organizations and national/international political movements. The emphasis on “local activity” serves the neoliberal regimes since it allows its foreign and domestic backers to dominate macro-socio-economic policy and to channel most of the state’s resources toward subsidies for export capitalists and financial institutions.
So while the neoliberals were transferring lucrative state properties to the private rich, the NGOs were not part of the trade union resistance. On the contrary they were active in local private projects, promoting the private enterprise discourse (self-help) in the local communities by focusing on micro-enterprises. The NGOs built ideological bridges between the small scale capitalists and the monopolies benefitting from privatization—all in the name of “anti-statism” and the building of civil societies. While the rich accumulated vast financial empires from the privatization, the NGO middle class professionals got small sums to finance offices, transportation, and small-scale economic activity.
The important political point is that the NGOs depoliticized sectors of the population, undermined their commitment to public employees, and co-opted potential leaders in small projects. NGOs abstain from public school teacher struggles, as the neoliberal regimes attack public education and public educators. Rarely if ever do NGOs support the strikes and protests against low wages and budget cuts. Since their educational funding comes from the neoliberal governments, they avoid solidarity with public educators in struggle. In practice, “non-governmental” translates into anti-public-spending activities, freeing the bulk of funds for neoliberals to subsidize export capitalists while small sums trickle from the government to NGOs.
In reality non-governmental organizations are not non-governmental. They receive funds from overseas governments or work as private subcontractors of local governments. Frequently they openly collaborate with governmental agencies at home or overseas. This “subcontracting” undermines professionals with fixed contracts, replacing them with contingent professionals. The NGOs cannot provide the long-term comprehensive programs that the welfare state can furnish. Instead they provide limited services to narrow groups of communities. More importantly, their programs are not accountable to the local people but to overseas donors. In that sense NGOs undermine democracy by taking social programs out of the hands of the local people and their elected officials to create dependence on non-elected, overseas officials and their locally anointed officials. …more
Bahrain: 651 Citizens Sentenced in Security Cases During 2013
6 January, 2014 – Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights
The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights stated today that during the year 2013 the Bahraini Courts issued imprisonment verdicts against 651 citizens based on security charges related to the protests that kicked off on 14 February 2011.
The BYSHR confirmed that he Bahraini Courts had issued verdicts in 95 cases, and the charge “assembling and riot” was the most common in 2013.
The BYSHR explained that 10 citizens were sentenced with life imprisonment, and 153 citizens were imprisoned with 15 years.
The BYSHR indicated that 120 citizens were sentenced with 10 years and 219 citizens were sentenced with 3 to 5 years in prison, while 149 citizens were sentenced with 1 month to 2 years in prison.
Mr Mohammed Al-Maskati – president of the BYSHR – stated that the Bahraini Courts used freedom restricting laws to punish the protestors.
Mr Al-Maskati explained that since 14 February 2011 the Bahraini Authorities have been arresting and trialling citizens with charges related to freedom of opinion and expression.
Worth mentioning, Judge Sheikh Mohammed bin Ali Al-Khalifa – from the ruling family – was the most to issue verdicts during 2013. …more
Today Hussain Hubail, 21, a photographer detained since July 31st, had a medical appointment at the hospital with him mum.
Hubail collapsed last Thursday, as he suffered from a heart spasm, and was taken to Salmaniya Hospital for treatment, where he remained in the intensive care unit for several hours and then in the short intensive care unit.
When his condition got stable he was transferred to the Dry Dock Prison again. Hubail stayed in Salmaniya hospital complex for nearly 12 hours and was unconscious.
Hubail suffered several months ago from beams contraction of the heart muscle, shortness of breath, high blood pressure and fainted several times in prison. He told officials about his condition, but they largely ignored it for two months before they allowed his visit to the doctors at the Salmaniya Medical Complex for treatment.The prison administration don’t give him his medication to reduce blood pressure, which he needs once a day, but only once a week.
The regime use the lack of medical care to control the prisoners which has lead to a number of deaths. Hubail goes to court on January 27th and we would like to get him out on bail immediately.
We’re looking at precedents for release due to illness. Nabil Taman was released because of cancer, and Naser Bader El Raas, for his heart condition. Ali Al Awani was released today because of cancer also.
I’m contacting Irish and British medics to get support. Please contact your Congressman to take action for Hussain.
Bahrain accuses Tehran of training opposition militants
4 January, 2014 – The Peninsula
Protesters carrying Bahraini flags and photos of Shia scholar Isa Qassim march during an anti-government rally organised by main opposition group Al Wefaq in Budaiya, west of Manama, yesterday.
DUBAI: Bahrain accused Iran’s Revolutionary Guards yesterday of providing opposition militants with explosives training in order to carry out attacks in the Gulf kingdom, announcing that it had arrested five suspects.
Bahrain is ruled by a Sunni Muslim dynasty but has a population that is majority Shia. The government crushed a mostly Shia-led uprising in 2011 and has long accused predominantly Shiite Iran of meddling in its affairs.
Chief prosecutor Osama Al Oufi said the intelligence service reported last month that “Bahraini Ahmed Mahfuz Mussawi, currently living in Iran, had planned terrorist bombing operations targeting institutions and places vital to the sovereignty and security of the kingdom.”
Quoted by state news agency BNA, he added that five people had been arrested and “admitted joining a group to carry out terrorist attacks… and travelled to Iran to receive training in Revolutionary Guards camps and then received sums of money.”
On Monday, Bahraini authorities said they had seized a boat smuggling explosives made in Iran and Syria into the country.
Since the 2011 uprising, which called for democratic reforms, demonstrations have regularly been held in Shia villages around the capital, often sparking clashes with security forces. At least 89 people have been killed in Bahrain since the protests began, according to the International Federation for Human Rights.
Several bomb attacks have taken place in recent months, including one that targeted a Sunni mosque close to the royal court in July but caused no casualties.
Tensions escalated over the weekend as authorities interrogated top Shia opposition leader Ali Salman.
The head of the main Shia bloc Al Wefaq was released after a day of questioning, but was charged with incitement to religious hatred and spreading false news endangering national security. …more
Bahraini riot police attack on Imam Redha Mosque
5 January, 2014 – Shia Post
Security forces in Bahrain have attacked on a Shia Mosque and Hussainia in Sanabis village on Sunday evening, The Shia Post reported.
The extensive and persistent use of tear gas against civilians by Bahrain’s security forces since over two years was unprecedented in the 100-year history of its use throughout the world.
The Bahraini government has resorted to the policy of “collective punishment” of the nation by regular crack downs on the people who peacefully protest against government’s discriminatory policies.
Bahrainis have been staging demonstrations since mid-February 2011, calling for political reforms and a constitutional monarchy, a demand that later changed to an outright call for the ouster of the ruling Al Khalifa family following the regime’s brutal crackdown on popular protests.
Scores have been killed, many of them under torture while in custody, and thousands more detained since the popular uprising began in the Persian Gulf state.
Protesters say they will continue holding anti-regime demonstrations until their demands for the establishment of a democratically-elected government and an end to the rights violations are met. …more