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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=Repeal 56: Part 2. Sorry for the trouble.

Repeal 56: Part 2

Sunday, January 16, 2005

On Thursday, the National Committee for Martyrs and Victims of Torture held the second in their series of protests against government employed torturers. (Read about the first protest here). Their specific demands were:

  1. The annulment of Royal Decree 56 which in effect grants amnesty to all of the accused torturers.
  2. Compensation for the victims of torture and the families of the murdered.
  3. That those accused of torture be put on trial, and their files be made public.

Their specific hitlist included the following people:

  • Adel Flaifel
  • Shaikh Abdulaziz Atiyatallah Al-Khalifa (currently head of the national security agency)
  • Khalid Al-Wazzan
  • Khalid Al-Moawada
  • Adnan Al-Dhaen
  • Mahmood Al-Akoori
  • Abdulrahman bin Saqr

And although his name wasn't written on any of the placards, "Down down Henderson!" was chanted several times throughout the protest, obviously referring to the notorious Ian Henderson.

The turnout wasn't huge -- 250 people max I would say -- but it was significant. But the really interesting thing was that the protest was held right outside the Ministry of Interior Fort in Manama, home of the CID and all the accused torturers listed above. As far as I know, this was the first time that a protest has been held there. At first the protesters gathered on the opposite side of the roundabout outside the fort. But after about half an hour a group of protesters walked across the road and continued their demonstration on the pavement just outside the fort entrance.

Kudos to the cops for letting the protesters demonstrate so close to the entrance, and for limiting their own presence. The fact that people are allowed to publicly protest about the lack of democracy is, ironically, a sign that we actually do have some vestiges of democracy in Bahrain. Of course, we can't ignore the fact that Bahrain's torturers have been given complete amnesty. However, I think that allowing people to air their grievances freely is one step in the right direction towards the justice that the regime will inevitably have to face in the future. Many many more of such steps still need to be taken.

But one sneaky thing that the cops did was to block off the roads leading to the demonstration after about 45 minutes, thus limiting its exposure. I think the cops could have used the excuse that the protest was slowing down traffic at the roundabout to justify their action. (Yes, the protest did slow down traffic). So I think the activists need to reassess their methods of activism.

Holding demonstrations is a very useful tool, but that on its own does not achieve a great deal. The only people that see the protests are the people who actually drive by, and most of them don't have enough time to understand what's really going on. They probably just read a few signs and drive on (since the drivers behind them are honking to get them to speed up). And when the cops block the roads, as they did on Thursday, then the exposure is further limited. Asides from this, the only other coverage that such a protest will get is a paragraph in the local papers if they're lucky (and if they're really lucky, then maybe a short report from the international agencies). I'm sure that most people in the country weren't even aware that there was a protest on Thursday... or if they did know about it, then they probably forgot about the issue the next day.

So I think there is a need to complement the demonstrations with other methods of protest that can be sustained for longer than a couple of hours. Maybe something like a ribbon campaign, or small stickers for cars. Maybe they could try to purchase some newspaper space for an ad (okay, that's a tough one). Or anything that will attract attention and spark curiosity, that doesn't require too much effort, and does not hinder the desired audience from going about their business. A bit of imagination could go a long way.

Anyways, watch a video of Thursday's protest by clicking here (wmv 6.34MB)... you'll have to mentally filter out the Braveheart background music. And the next protest in this series is set for the 28th of Jan at 3.30pm, again outside the Ministry of Interior Fort.

And some photos of activist kids as usual:

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11 Responses to 'Repeal 56: Part 2'


Anonymous Anonymous says:

I'm sorry but I can't take seriously any campaign run by the National Committeee for Martyrs and Torture Victims because they're an arm of an extremist organisation which uses gangs of self appointed religious police to violently enforce its codes on concert goers or those eating in restaurants and whose leaders want to put third world labourers in caged barracks like animals.  

Posted by Anonymous    

Anonymous Anonymous says:

hahaha thats the funniest thing i've heard today. Thanks for that one anon.

Chan'ad: the Committee was given a behind-the-scenes offer to financially compensate the victims by the government, but apparantly they are adamant about seeking justice and punishment for the torturers. People are walking around Bahrain with blood on their hands, as others have had their dignity trodden on. So anonymous, if you haven't been arbitrarily arrested, punched, tied up, electrocuted, had cigarettes stubbed out in your ears, shot at, raped, then you can come and critisize the Campaign. 

Posted by Bahrania    

Anonymous Anonymous says:

Question de jour is Bahrania have you been arbitrarily arrested, punched, tied up, electrocuted, had cigarettes stubbed out in your ears, shot at, raped?

If someone does not like the campaign they have just as much right to critize it as you do. Or do you wish to stifle free speech? 

Posted by Anonymous    

Anonymous Anonymous says:
1/17/2005 07:30:00 pm

Chanad; I dont know if you have seen the video, but you can download it at www.asdbh.com.

there is going to be another demonstration at the same place on the 28th of jan 2005.

 

Posted by Bugs    

Anonymous Anonymous says:
1/17/2005 07:35:00 pm

Anon, I've heard those accusations before, but I would need more than just accusations and stories before I believe that the Committee actually had a hand in those incidents. So if you know something that I don't then please do share.

Even then, I think it's possible for me to fully support the stated goals of the Committee's campain to repeal Law 56, while at the same time condemning any of the Committee's crimes (if they can be proven). Supporting this campaign does not mean that I endorse the actions of all of the Committee's members. 

Posted by Chan'ad    

Anonymous Anonymous says:
1/17/2005 07:38:00 pm

I forgot about the video. Thanks for reminding me Bugs. 

Posted by Chan'ad    

Anonymous Anonymous says:
1/17/2005 08:32:00 pm

No one denies that the National Committee for Martyrs and Torture Victims is a front for Islamofascists Wefaq. 

Posted by Anonymous    

Anonymous Anonymous says:
1/17/2005 09:50:00 pm

Scorpio why are you hiding behind Anonymous? I can smell you a mile off. 

Posted by Bahrania    

Anonymous Anonymous says:
1/18/2005 01:54:00 am

I have to say I'm getting tired of these over simplifications of what's happening in the Bahraini political arena. This idea that Torture Committee/BCHR = Wefaq = Islamists = Evil fascists. (And also the parallel claim of King/PM/CP = Al Khalifa = Evil dictators).

I don't understand why we are so eager to dumb everything down to one meaningless generalization. The political players are not monoliths. The political arena is made up of several groups each with its own ideology, and each group is made of several different individuals who each have their own understanding of life. The final result is a very complex system. You do no justice to yourself if you lump everyone together and ignore the fact that each individual has had a different upbringing and education, has different political and personal goals, and faces a different set of constraints and pressures.

If you're just in the mood to call people names, then fine. But if we want to understand what's actually going on, we can't rely on our invented generalizations. 

Posted by Chan'ad    

Anonymous Anonymous says:
1/19/2005 05:35:00 pm

One of the people whose name appears on the placard of WANTED people (Abdulrahman bin Saqer) is already dead!  

Posted by sillybahrainigirl    

Anonymous Anonymous says:
1/21/2005 12:16:00 am

Salaams

I have linked one of your photos to my blog in order to broaden the exposure given to these protests.

May Allah protect and guide all those who seek justice.

Wasalaam

Yakoub, UK 

Posted by Yakoub    

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