ModernityBlog

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Posts Tagged ‘Bahrain

UN Hands Over Protesters To Bahrain.

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Officials at the UN offices in Manama, the capital city of Bahrain, have handed over human rights protesters to the Bahraini security forces according to information coming out of Twitter and Demotix:

“Three Bahrain women, Asma Darwish,Sawsan Jawad and Zainab Alkhawaja have been arrested as they began a hunger strike calling for immediate action to be taken by the UN, on political prisoners in Bahrain. “

So instead of helping the women, the UN officials hand them over to the very people they should be protecting them from. Despicable.

In Bahrain, The West’s Ally, Prosecutes Medical Staff.

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As the regime in Bahrain puts medical staff in the dock, they’ve managed to do what only the worst dictatorships, mad monarchs and authoritarians do, lock up a poet.

Reuters reports:

“MANAMA — A Bahraini court sentenced a young Shi’ite poet to one year in prison on Sunday for taking part in illegal protests and incitement against the Gulf state’s monarchy.

Ayat al-Qurmouzi, 20, was arrested after she recited a poem mocking the Bahraini king and demanding he step down, during protests led by the country’s Shi’ite majority that gripped the kingdom in February and March.

A relative confirmed her sentence, saying Qurmouzi’s family had feared for her safety in detention.

Bahrain, a U.S. ally that hosts the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, called in troops from its fellow Sunni-led Gulf neighbor Saudi Arabia to help it crush the pro-democracy protests in March.

Qurmouzi is one of about 400 people, most of them Shi’ites, who the Shi’ite opposition party Wefaq says have been put on trial for their roles in the protests.

Some 50 people have already been given sentences ranging from short prison terms to execution, the group says.

The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights said in a statement on Sunday that Qurmouzi and others had been ill-treated in custody. “

The Guardian covers it here.

On top of that, Bahrain’s rulers are prosecuting medical staff, in direct contravention of the Geneva Convention:

“Manama, Bahrain (CNN) — Dozens of doctors and nurses went on trial Monday in Bahrain, accused of taking control of a hospital during anti-government protests, storing weapons and keeping people prisoner.

The doctors, their lawyers and international human rights activists say the defendants were tortured to extract confessions against a background of demonstrations in the kingdom.

Eleven male doctors appeared in court Monday, their heads shaven, alongside at least five female doctors. They appeared stressed and anxious.

One of the doctors tried to tell the judge that his confession had been extracted under torture, but the judge told him to stop and that he would be able to give evidence later in the trial.

Human rights groups have accused the government of widespread attacks on doctors and other medical workers.

“We documented a systematic attack on medical staff in Bahrain including the beatings, torture and disappearances of more than 30 physicians,” said Richard Sollom, deputy director of Physicians for Human Rights.

“We found doctors were simply providing ethical and life-saving medical care to patients whom Bahraini security forces had shot, detained and tortured,” Sollom said.

Physicians for Human Rights, a group that shared the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to ban landmines, says it sent investigators to the Persian Gulf kingdom and interviewed 45 patients, doctors, nurses and witnesses.

The report details attacks on “physicians, medical staff, patients and unarmed civilians with the use of bird shot, physical beatings, rubber bullets, tear gas and unidentified chemical agents,” the group said in an April report.

Its report echoes those released earlier by Human Rights Watch and Doctors Without Borders.

Syria And Assorted News.

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The news coming out of Syria is terrible, Left Foot Forward covers it.

Amnesty International highlights the plight of medical staff in Bahrain that are scheduled to go on trial on Monday.

It seems that the Iranian state is getting people accustomed to the idea of a nuclear test, or at least that is one plausible reading coming out of this piece in the Guardian.

This extract is for Sally Hunt, UCU General Secretary lest she forget what institutional racism means. [Thanks to Flesh Is Grass.]

Apparently, a Tory MP has sexually assaulted a woman, and guess who he blames? The woman. Then he proceeds to cast doubt on the veracity of the victim’s account of the assault. I am sure if UCU members read the Indy article with a critical eye they will see a message there.

Another EDL thug.

An eyewitness account from Syria.

Finally, the Washington Post has a page on the Palin emails. I liked this bit, Sarah Palin emails hint at her governing style.

Western Interests And Bahrain.

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Outside of Government circles or some parts of the media it is fairly clear that the West has moderated and muted criticism of the repression going on in Bahrain, Reuters has a good piece on it:

“(Reuters) – The fate of Bahrain’s protest movement is a stark reminder of how Western and regional power politics can trump reformist yearnings, even in an Arab world convulsed by popular uprisings against entrenched autocrats.
Bahrain is not Libya or Syria, but Western tolerance of the Sunni monarchy’s crackdown suggests that interests such as the U.S. naval base in Manama, ties to oil giant Saudi Arabia and the need to contain neighboring Iran outweigh any sympathy with pro-democracy demonstrators mostly from the Shi’ite majority.

“The response from the West has been very timid and it shows the double standards in its foreign policy compared to Libya,” said Nabeel Rajab of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights.

“Saudi influence is so huge on Bahrain now and the West has not stood up to it, which has disappointed many. They’re losing the hearts and minds of the democrats in Bahrain.”

Iran has hardly been consistent either, fiercely criticizing Bahrain’s treatment of its Shi’ites, and praising Arab revolts elsewhere as “Islamic awakenings” — except the uprising in its lone Arab ally Syria, which it blames on a U.S.-Israeli plot.

Bahrain’s king said on Sunday a state of emergency, imposed in March after Saudi-led troops arrived to help crush protests, would be lifted on June 1, two weeks before it expires.

That would be two days before a deadline set by Formula One organizers for Bahrain to decide whether to reschedule a Grand Prix it was to have hosted on March 13. The motor race was postponed because of the unrest then shaking the Gulf island.

Bahrain is eager to prove that stability has returned after the upheaval in which at least 29 people, all but six of them Shi’ites, have been killed since protests erupted in February.

VERBAL SLAPS

Apart from verbal slaps on the wrist, the United States and its allies have stood by as Bahrain, egged on by Saudi Arabia, has pursued a punitive campaign that appears to target Shi’ites in general, not just the advocates of more political freedoms, a constitutional monarchy and an end to sectarian discrimination. ” [my emphasis.]

Bahrain: Medical Professionals On Trial.

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The Bahraini government has broken so many international conventions in terms of attacking civilians, putting down legitimate protests and quashing freedom of speech, now they are putting doctors and other medical professionals on trial, CNN reports:

“The justice ministry in Bahrain said 47 medical professionals will be tried for crimes that include incitement to overthrow the regime, deadly assault and refusal to help persons in need.

Twenty-four doctors and 23 nurses and paramedics have been charged.

During the protests in the Gulf kingdom, witnesses say security forces in Bahrain stormed the Salmaniya Medical Complex in Manama beating doctors and demonstrators. Bahraini officials deny those accounts.

Activists and human rights groups have alleged that medical personnel have been targeted by Bahraini officials for treating protestors. “

The Physicians for Human Rights report on Bahrain goes into greater detail:

“Thousands of protesters in the small island Kingdom of Bahrain in the Persian Gulf took to the streets calling for government reform in February and March 2011. The Government’s response was brutal and systematic: shoot civilian protesters, detain and torture them, and erase all evidence. On the frontline, treating hundreds of these wounded civilians, doctors had first-hand knowledge of government atrocities.

This report details systematic and targeted attacks against medical personnel, as a result of their efforts to provide unbiased care for wounded protestors. The assault on healthcare workers and their patients constitutes extreme violations of the principle of medical neutrality and are grave breaches of international law. Medical neutrality ensures

1. the protection of medical personnel, patients, facilities, and transport from attack or interference;
2. unhindered access to medical care and treatment;
3. the humane treatment of all civilians; and
4. nondiscriminatory treatment of the injured and sick.

While in Bahrain, PHR investigators spoke with several eyewitnesses of abducted physicians, some of whom were ripped from their homes in the middle of the night by masked security forces. For each doctor, nurse, or medic that the government disappears, many more civilians’ lives are impacted as patients go untreated.

Armed security forces abducted Dr. Ali El-Ekri from the operating room while he was performing surgery at Salmaniya Hospital on 17 March. Another doctor was abducted in the middle of the night from his home in front of his wife and three children. Police and masked men in civilian clothes stormed the home of Dr. Abdul Khaliq al-Oraibi on 1 April. The security forces dragged him out of bed, handcuffed, and then blindfolded him. They did not say where or why they were taking him. His family has not heard from him since.

Physicians for Human Rights uncovered egregious abuses against patients and detainees including torture, beating, verbal abuse, humiliation, and threats of rape and killing. For example, security forces shot Ali in the face and head at close range with birdshot. He woke up later in Salmaniya Hospital where he was held for five days. On his second day, three armed security forces handcuffed Ali and a dozen other wounded men behind their backs with plastic wrist ties and began to beat them. Then the security forces threw Ali and the other patients face first onto the floor and dragged them out into the hallway, leaving trails of blood on the floor. Interrogation, torture, and forced confessions followed. “

[My emphasis.]

The Lobbies, Rounding Up Before The Weekend.

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I shall be away for a good few days and thought that rounding up news worthy bits and my random thoughts might be easier.

I admit I can’t stand the NewStatesman, but if you have to read it then Kevin Maguire’s column is good and sharp on domestic British politics.

A pessimistic Yaacov Lozowick says Peace Impossible; Progress Needed:

“Compared to long periods of Jewish history, deligitimization is a reasonable problem to have. For that matter, deligitimization compounded with a low level of violence isn’t an existential threat, either. Yet Jews haven’t become one of history’s oldest living nations by passively suffering circumstances. They have always tried to improve their lot, often with surprising success; Zionism is merely one of the more spectacular improvements. The Zionist tradition of activism requires we confront the present threat, rather than wait. The way forward is to disable the weapons of our enemies. Since the single most potent weapon in their arsenal is our occupation of the Palestinians, we must do as much as we reasonably can to end it.

Ending the occupation as a maneuver in an ongoing conflict is not the same as making peace. Making peace requires that all side to the conflict accept mutually agreed terms. There’s a reason this hasn’t yet happened, namely that the two sides cannot agree; even if they could, however, no Palestinian government could reconcile all Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims to Jewish sovereignty, nor convince the western supporters of ongoing violence to desist from aiding and abetting it. The aim of ending the occupation is to severely weaken the enemies of Jewish sovereignty by reducing the wind which currently blows in their sails.”

I don’t agree with him on much but he too is worth a read.

Meanwhile in Bahrain:

“Bahraini opposition groups and rights organizations say hundreds of public employees were dismissed on the grounds that they took part in protests. Bahrain says it had taken steps only against those who committed crimes during the protests.”

The yearly Orwell Prize is upon us, and bloggers haven’t been forgotten. I do find the self-promotional nature of this event somewhat disappointing, you have to submit your own work, rather than someone proposing you. It seems that the Orwell Prize has become another major happening, where the middle classes slap each other on the back and say what jolly good chaps/chappettes they are. Is this what Eric Blair really wanted? The Metropolitan elites congratulating each other? Probably not.

Interested in the Middle East? Use Google’s Chrome and check out the BBC’s Arabic page, which Chrome will automatically translate into any appropriate language. It’s a good read and has a slightly different perspective than the English language one.

Donald Trump and the Birther idiocy has compelled President Obama to release his birth certificate, view as a PDF. Gary Younge was good on the issue about 2 years ago, not much has changed since then. This is the White House blog on it, and I didn’t know it existed!

Gulf leaders are worried about Egypt.

Searchlight on the BNP’s Young, angry and on the rise.

Howard Jacobson on Ofcom and The Promise, sharp as ever:

“In a morally intelligent world – that’s to say one in which, for starters, Jews are not judged more harshly than their fellows for having been despatched to concentration camps – The Promise would be seen for the ludicrous piece of brainwashed prejudice it is. Ofcom’s rejection of complaints about the drama’s partiality and inaccuracy was to be expected. You can’t expect a body as intellectually unsophisticated as Ofcom to adjudicate between claims of dramatic truth and truth of any other sort. And for that reason it should never have been appealed to. That said, its finding that The Promise was “serious television drama, not presented as a historical and faithful re-creation”, is a poor shot at making sense of anything. You can’t brush aside historical re-creation in a work of historical re-creation, nor can you assert a thing is “serious television” when its seriousness is what’s in question. A work isn’t serious by virtue of its thinking it is. Wherein lies the seriousness, one is entitled to ask, when the drama creaks with the bad faith of a made-up mind.

I’m an art man, myself. Aesthetics trump the lot. And “seriousness” is an aesthetic quality or it’s nothing. But you will usually find that bad intentions makes bad art, and bad art, while it might be solemn and self-righteous, forfeits the right to be called serious. From start to finish, The Promise was art with its trousers round its ankles. Yes, it looked expensive, took its time, was beautifully shot and well acted. But these are merely the superficies of art, and the more dangerously seductive for that. “Gosh, I never knew such and such had happened,” I heard people say after one or other simplifying episode, as though high production values guarantee veracity.”

The Obama administration and Syria, conflicting policies?

When people start shouting about Mosques, remember what company you’re in, BNP man arrested at mosque protest.

In Bahrain Tweeters get a warning from the State:

““Think twice before posting, forwarding, or reTweeting messages. Are they mere propaganda or could they be libelous? Think Twice before posting, forwarding or reTweeting images. Are they appropriate in their content? Are they likely to cause offense? Could they cause harm?” “

British Foreign secretaries are normally not that naive, but William Hague seems to think Bashar al-Assad is a reformer, even after 400+ Syrians were killed by the state security apparatus, police and army. Chronically stupid doesn’t even sum up Hague in this matter.

Remember 9/11? Imagine that you were one of the first people on the scene, that you risked your life to help people. How would you be treated by Congress? Pretty damn poorly, Medialite has more:

“Jon Stewart tonight tackled the absurdity of a provision in the recently passed 9/11 first responders bill that requires any potential beneficiaries to first have their name run through the FBI’s terrorism watch list before they could collect any money. Some commentators described it as “adding insult to injury,” but Stewart more bluntly called it Congress’ “final kick to the nuts” of the first responders.

This issue is somewhat personal to Stewart given that many credited him with helping to get public support for the bill’s passage. Yet Stewart went to town, lampooning anyone who could possibly think a terrorist’s grand scheme after all of these years was to trick the U.S. government into handing over money to now pay for their cancer treatment.”

HRW seems to think that Hamas will investigate itself concerning the death of Adel Razeq. Great idea, but it ain’t going to happen:

“(Jerusalem) – Hamas authorities in Gaza should order a criminal investigation into the death of a man whose body was returned to his family five days after Hamas security officials arrested him, Human Rights Watch said today.

Relatives of ‘Adel Razeq, a 52-year-old father of nine, told Human Rights Watch that when security officials arrested him on April 14, 2011, they did not present a warrant and took him away under false pretenses. Security officials would not tell his family where he was being held. When his brother examined the body, it was badly bruised and appeared to have broken bones, he told Human Rights Watch. That, if true, would cast doubt on a Hamas Interior Ministry statement that Razeq died of an unspecified illness. “

Finally to a Lobby, but not one that you’d expect, the Syrian Lobby, extracted from the WSJ:

“How does a small, energy-poor and serially misbehaving Middle Eastern regime always seem to get a Beltway pass? Conspiracy nuts and other tenured faculty would have us believe that country is Israel, though the Jewish state shares America’s enemies and our democratic values. But the question really applies to Syria, where the Assad regime is now showing its true nature.

Washington’s Syria Lobby is a bipartisan mindset. “The road to Damascus is a road to peace,” said Nancy Pelosi on a 2007 visit to Syria as House Speaker. Former Secretary of State James Baker is a longtime advocate of engagement with the House of Assad. So is Republican Chuck Hagel, who in 2008 co-wrote an op-ed with fellow Senator John Kerry in these pages titled “It’s Time to Talk to Syria.” The Massachusetts Democrat has visited Damascus five times in the past two years alone.

The argument made by the Syria Lobby runs briefly as follows: The Assad family is occasionally ruthless, especially when its survival is at stake, but it’s also secular and pragmatic. Though the regime is Iran’s closest ally in the Middle East, hosts terrorists in Damascus, champions Hezbollah in Lebanon and has funneled al Qaeda terrorists into Iraq, it will forgo those connections for the right price. Above all, it yearns for better treatment from Washington and the return of the Golan Heights, the strategic plateau held by Israel since 1967.

The Syria Lobby also claims that whoever succeeds Assad would probably be worse. The country is divided by sect and ethnicity, and the fall of the House of Assad could lead to bloodletting previously seen in Lebanon or Iraq. Some members of the Lobby go so far as to say that the regime remains broadly popular. “I think that President Assad is going to count on . . . majoritarian support within the country to support him in doing what he needs to do to restore order,” Flynt Leverett of the New America Foundation said recently on PBS’s NewsHour.

Now we are seeing what Mr. Leverett puts down merely to the business of “doing what he needs to do”: Video clips on YouTube of tanks rolling into Syrian cities and unarmed demonstrators being gunned down in the streets; reports of hundreds killed and widespread “disappearances.” Even the Obama Administration has belatedly criticized Assad, though so far President Obama has done no more than condemn his “outrageous human rights abuses.” ”

It is something to see, how tanks, snipers and the slaughter of civilians doesn’t to rile policy makers in DC, or political activists in Britain as witnessed by the non-existence demonstrations outside the Syrian embassy by the usual suspects! And that something that has struck me over the pass few weeks coverage of events in the Middle East, how little real indignation they invoked in the West.

Middle East Roll Up.

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There’s a lot of things going on, and normally I would like to do separate posts, but following Bob’s shining example, here is a slew of Middle East and related issues:

The Syrian President (and presumably many of his entourage) might end up at the International Criminal Court in the Hague, according to the Torygraph, for their murderous behaviour. Chance would be a fine thing. At latest count 350+ killed by the Syrian regime.

Meanwhile, the Gulf Daily News relates that in Saudi Arabia preparations are underway for a Royal visit to Bahrain and then presumably on to the Royal wedding in London, with blood still dripping from their fingers.

In Royal matters, numerous bloodsoaked dictators are coming over to meet the newly weds, share canopies and chat about how best to shoot the plebs, or whatever counts for small talk in royal circles nowadays. The Bahraini Crown Prince said, regrettably he couldn’t come as killing protesters was a more pressing matter at the moment, or something like that.

We shouldn’t forget that the Bahraini rulers are very close to the Royal family, particularly Charles.

They are very chummy with David Cameron too.

Elsewhere, forget Gaddafi’s “ceasefire” his forces are lobbing rockets into Misratah, killing civilians all over the place.

As Syrian Army tanks move in to slaughter the people of Daraa youths show their contempt by throwing rocks at the tanks.

Modern slavery exists, as Burmese workers are enslaved in the Thai fishing fleet.

Fawaz Turki on the intolerant streak continues to afflict Palestinian society.

We should not forget the revolts have spread from Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Syria, Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Algeria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iran and to Mauritania.

Reuters has more on events in Nouakchott:

“NOUAKCHOTT, April 25 (Reuters) – Security forces using teargas and batons dispersed several hundred anti-government protesters in the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott on Monday, the most serious clash in the West African state for nearly two months.

Inspired by uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, critics of President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz began street protests in late February in the poverty-stricken desert country, although their number has rarely risen above one thousand.

“Mauritanians are fed up with this regime, and it is time that we said it loud and clear,” Cheikh Ould Jiddou, a leader of the protest, told Reuters.”

Jeff Goldberg is good on the Mysteries of Richard Goldstone.

Oh, just in case anyone asked, the US already has sanctions on Syria,