News ID: 8693
Publish Date: 06 July 2012 - 05:48
Bahraini protesters have held a demonstration in the village of Ma’ameer to condemn the United States for supporting the Al Khalifa regime.
The demonstrators took to the streets in Ma’ameer, about 15 kilometers (9.5 miles) south of the capital, Manama, on Wednesday. On May 11, the US State Department said Washington will resume arms sales to Bahrain. Bahraini opposition groups and activists condemned the decision, saying it could encourage further human rights violations in the Persian Gulf country. 

We have conducted an interview with Nabeel Rajab, with the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, in Manama, to shed further light on the issue. What follows is an approximate transcript of the interview.

Q: For almost the past and a half year, we have been hearing of nothing but brutal crackdown and suppression of the protest movements that are rising up in Bahrain against the ruling Al Khalifa monarchy. As a human rights defender yourself, just walk us through the experiences you faced throughout this revolution.

Rajab: The government does not seem willing to change their attitude towards people fighting for democracy and justice in this part of the world, especially with the silence of the international community, with the silence of the European community and the United States government which is being seen here as a green signal, as a go-ahead signal in continuing violations and crimes against people.

Still the Bahraini government with all the crimes committed by the regime has not received any strong reaction from the international community for what they have been doing. That is why you see more arrests on a daily basis; people are still irritated, systematically tortured, houses are being raided; mosques are being destroyed and a lot of houses are being fired and burned down with tear gas, collective punishment against a lot of villages, checkpoints, humiliating people everywhere.

So it is the same thing that started a year and a half ago. The economy is almost collapsed in this country. Businesses are leaving or shutting down their businesses because of the political situation which does not seem … we do not see any signal or indication as of this moment that there will be a political solution.

The latest was of the Kuwaiti initiative by the Kuwaiti Emir to reconcile between the king of Bahrain and the people of Bahrain. But it seems that the king of Bahrain has rejected the Kuwaiti initiative in the past few days.

That leads us to believe that there is no hope that is expected in any time soon; we do not see an indication where the gap between the ruling elite and the people of Bahrain is getting wider and the crisis is getting deeper and the government of Bahrain still believes that with violence, with importing mercenaries from outside, with buying arms from the United States, they could solve the problems.

Although it did not silence the people in the past few months, but still the government of Bahrain believes that with violence, with killing people, with arresting people, they will have an end to the struggle of Bahrainis for freedom and democracy.

Q: Mr. Rajab, you yourself have been detained multiple times for the part you have played in this revolution. Tell us a bit more about the way you were dealt with by the regime forces for just voicing the need for democracy and equal rights in Bahrain.

Rajab: I spent most of my last two months in jail and I have five cases going on in the court now against me and all of them are about my tweets criticizing the prime minister, criticizing the king or calling for protests, empowering people to fight for their rights and this is the cost of people expressing their opinion in this part of the world.

I am one of many hundreds of people who have been detained and irritated just for the opinion they had, for the statements they have made, criticizing so and so person but there was one thing that I am sure of, that they will not silence me, they will not silence the people with this repression and I am continuing my work as thousands of people who have been in detention… they are continuing their work.

The government has to believe finally that violence, jail, torturing will not solve a political problem. Political crisis needs a political solution. Still we do not see any political will among the ruling family but what I am saying is that the Bahraini government will not end up the crisis with violence or with putting people in jail.

They have, after all, to find a political solution and that political solution should be there with the pressure from the international community which we have not seen yet.

Unfortunately, the double standard politics of many countries, many Western countries, have led the government to continue their violence and their violation against people. We urge the international community to act in equal manner towards all revolutions whether it is in Bahrain or Syria or Iraq or any other country.

Q: Mr. Rajab, the latest protests are calling on the US and Britain to stop supporting the monarchy in Bahrain. How much of this support that the monarchy has been receiving from the US and Britain and other countries as well has gone towards emboldening the regime and its forces in blatantly and brutally suppressing the revolution there?

Rajab: That protest you are talking about comes as a reaction to the UK and the United States position on the [UN] Human Rights Council. As you know, there was a resolution on the [UN] Human Rights Council two days ago and signed by 27 countries.

The UK and the United States which are considered to be the closest allies of Bahrain have refused to sign this resolution and unfortunately, the resolution that talks about democracy in many parts of the world, when it comes to Bahrain, they are reluctant to react to the violence, to the crimes committed by the Bahraini government.

That shows the double standards; that shows the hypocrisy of Western governments when it comes to democracy, when it comes to justice and that shows that those countries, when they talk about justice and democracy, they mean all those countries they have problem with but do not talk about their allies who are dictators, who are repressive regimes, who commit crimes against their own people.

Unfortunately, those countries that ask Russia to stop selling arms to repressive regimes and dictators, at the same time, they are selling arms to Bahrain government. This is hypocrisy; this is the double standards politics.

Unfortunately, our people are paying the price for their hypocrisy. This has to stop. The international community, people around the world, freedom fighters should fight the hypocrisy of the European governments and the United States government.

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