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Chan'ad Bahraini

(Scomberomorous maculatus Bahrainius)

Note: This page has moved to a new address. Please click on the following URL to get there: http://chanad.weblogs.us/index.php?s=This is kinda like what democracy looks like. Sorry for the trouble.

This is kinda like what democracy looks like

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

There was another demonstration today for the release of Abdulhadi Alkhawaja. This one took place on the section of Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Highway (ironically) that is adjacent to the Bahrain Mall, so they probably got more exposure than last time. However there were not as many demonstrators this time since it was a working day. I'm quite bad at estimating numbers, but I would guess there were no more than 200 people this time. Most of their signs were recycled from the last demonstration, so there isn't all that much for me to report to you.

But one interesting thing that happened was that 30 minutes into the protest, the police blocked the road at the point where the slip road into Sanabis starts. I'm not sure if you can see in the photo above, but there is a police car parked sideways blocking the road, stopping cars from driving past the protesters.

The demonstrators then decided to walk down and demonstrate where the road was being blocked. By the time they reached there, the police had driven away and traffic continued as normal. Asides from this small incident, did not interfere with protest at all, and stayed well away (in front of the Exhibition Centre) for the rest of the time.

So my general opinion of this all is that it is great that the people are voicing their concerns, and that the authorities are not interfering (except for that one incident). However, from a strategic point of view, I don't think it is smart to continue to demand the resignation of the Prime Minister. They should instead focus all of their efforts in securing the release of Alkhawaja, and rescinding the ban the BCHR. The problem is that the former issue is a political issue, and the latter is a human rights issue, and the two should not be confused. It is possible that there are some Bahrainis who do want Alkhawaja to be released but might not necessarily want the PM to resign -- so they would be unlikely to support the overall cause of the protesters. Furthermore, I'm sure there are also folks who don't want be seen in a demonstration carrying signs like "The Prime Minister is a symbol of evil and corruption", for fear of the repercussions this may have later on their social and business lives. If the protesters were to just focus on demanding the release of Alkhawaja I'm sure the support they receive would broaden considerably.

I'm not sure how this affair will end, but I would like to believe that the government is beginning to realize its folly, and will rectify its mistakes soon. Of course, it will try to do this without losing face, so when Alkhawaja does get released I would bet that the local newspapers will report it as being a great act of mercy and clemency on behalf of the ruling regime. But still, I (would like to) believe that the both the government and the opposition will walk away having learned something new about the politics of how to best deal with the enemy.

Anyways, I believe the next demonstration is planned for this Wednesday evening at 8pm in front of the Crowne Plaza hotel (formerly Holiday Inn) in the Diplomatic Area. Oh, and I almost forgot! To see the rest of my photos from today's demonstration, click here.

And three more kids:

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3 Responses to 'This is kinda like what democracy looks like'

Blogger Mahmood Al-Yousif says:

Again you "scooped" this news where none of the national press took up. Well done once again man. I wish I had your energy to go out and do the reporting that you are doing, so keep it up!    

Blogger jasra jedi says:

great job chan'ad ... thanks for putting these up .. and i agree with you - this is history in the making. a good opposition is fundamental to keeping government clean .. its just a question of how do both sides make place for the other in a manner than is ultimately productive and sustainable.

great journalism and reporting - i really enjoy reading ur comments and analysis ..    

Anonymous Anonymous says:

Thanks for the photos of the demo. While much has been achieved over the last few years, current events show there’s a lot more that needs to be done. Basically the PM seems to have succeeded in throwing a spanner in the reforms process, using Khawaja to show who’s in control and countering the new guard.

I don’t know how to read Majid Al Alawi’s threats – okay he’s the former leader of an Islamist organisation in London so his natural instincts are going to be authoritarian, in fact he’s about the last person you want regulating civil society since these guys have no commitment to the concept. He was continually threatening NGOs well before the BCHR’s closure, but now seems to have been let of the leash.    

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