Thursday, November 08, 2012

Bahrain Update

From Angry Arab's Bahrain correspondent:  "Three important updates concerning Bahrain:

1) Human rights activist Yousif AlMuhafdha has been arrested. He is the acting Vice President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. His boss, Nabeel Rajab is of course still in jail. AlMuhafdha's arrest came just three days after the center released its latest human rights report that hold the King responsible for the spread of a culture of impunity (see here: He is charged with illegally protesting. You can read more about him in this Washington Post Article: Of course his arrest is part of a targeted crackdown against human rights activists - they are going after them one by one.

2) Yesterday the regime announced that five bombs exploded in the capital Manama leading to the death of two migrant workers. The government never bothered releasing their names until now, after much criticism. In the beginning, they only referred to them as "Asians." The government is now blaming Hezbollah for the blasts, claiming that the four suspects it arrested were trained in Lebanon by Hezbollah:

Now whats interesting is that no one has claimed responsibility for the attack. The opposition condemned the attack and it seems like most anti-government Bahrainis are very skeptical about the attack, many claiming that they never heard the blasts. This reuters article by Andrew Hammound and an article by the Christian Science Monitor are the only two articles I have read that cast doubt on the government's version of what happened by showing both sides:

The problem here is that the truth is lost. How can I trust the governments version of events if it has consistently lied in the past? Obviously I am against the killing of civilians by anyone. The issue is who killed them? Neither Feb14 nor the opposition have claimed responsibility. Were they killed by a group of angry and frustrated protestors who targeted two migrant workers simply because they were easy to target? Did the government orchestrate the attack to justify a further crackdown and to shift international focus away from its decision to ban protests just a few days before? Both possibilities are plausible and unless an independent investigation is conducted, we will never know the truth. The regime is of course obsessed with bringing in "independent" foreign experts to train the police and the intelligence services but I doubt it will bring anyone from the outside to conduct an investigation. What is interesting is protestors have used violence in the past - but they have directed this violence towards the security forces, not towards civilians.

3) Now for the most worrisome development. The regime has stripped 31 Bahrainis of their nationality, including two members of AlWefaq of persian descent. It seems that most people on the list (and this is an educated guess.. I'm not 100% sure) are either Bahrainis living in exile or Bahrainis of Persian descent which we call Ajam. Many of the Ajam were like Kuwait Budoons for a while. Although they lived in Bahrain for generations they didn't have Bahraini citizenship. When the King came, he gave most of the persian budoon citizenship. I am really worried about the names I don't recognize - I understand why the government would target vocal activists. But what about those people that I've never heard of? Why were they targeted? Its absurd that the government can just strip a Bahraini of his or her nationality just because it feels like it. And what will those Bahrainis stripped of their nationality who are actually living in Bahrain do? Where will they go? Can they even leave the country? What is even more ridiculous is that that the twitter account @7areghum (cyber vigilante condemned in the Bassiouni report) tweeted the names of the 31 Bahrainis before the Bahrain News Agency did. This useful list created by the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights provides some information on who these 31 Bahrainis are: Here is the official press release:

I am not sure what the regime thinks it will achieve by stripping 31 Bahrainis of their citizenship. I suspect that it is trying to scare people but if some people are still speaking and protesting after the crackdown of March 2011, then they will still speak and protest after this. I suspect that the government is also trying to now go after the legal opposition and shut them up also. It has already banned protests (the protests conducted by Feb14 were always illegal so effectively it is banning protests lead by the legal opposition) and now it has stripped two prominent AlWefaq members of their citizenship. It is also planning to bring a case against Sh. Isa Qasim and have shut down the mosque that he gives his Friday sermons in.

I just can't get over the fact that my nationality means nothing and that I can be stripped of my citizenship arbitrarily. Apparently to be Bahraini you have to be loyal to the royal family. Being born in Bahrain is not relevant. Of course the government continues to practice political naturalization. I guess an ideal Bahrain for them would be a country of subjects loyal to the royal family."