HRW report damning to Al Khalifa regime: Activist

Press TV has conducted an interview with Saeed Shehabi, with the Bahrain Freedom Movement from London, about Human Rights Watch (HRW) blasting the Persian Gulf country of Bahrain for its severe punishment of peaceful protesters.

What follows is an approximate transcription of the interview.

Press TV: Please give us your thoughts on the recent findings by Human Rights Watch, and also tell us how far do you believe the Al Khalifa regime is willing to go in the crackdown on the demonstrators?

Shehabi: This document has proven beyond any reasonable doubt that the regime of the Al Khalifa cannot function as a system, as a political regime that maintains justice. 

In fact Joe Stork, the human rights director of the Middle East program said that the problem with Bahrain is not that it is just a system [that] is not working, it is not that it has a dysfunctional justice system but it has a highly functional injustice system. 

And of course the report also gives examples of how the judiciary would mete out harsh sentences against people who call for political change and the reports says that a person from the government who kills an individual, a protester, a detainee may get six months or two years jail sentence which may not be also put in action. While those who are calling for peaceful change, for democratic or a republic system will get life sentences. So he is just comparing the injustices in the country.

I think this document is very, very damning to the regime because if a regime cannot maintain justice, cannot uphold justice, then there is no purpose for it to remain.

Press TV: And what about the Western governments and their mainstream media, which seems to have forgotten about the uprising in Bahrain and the extent of the rights violations being carried out by the Saudi-backed security apparatus in the Persian Gulf kingdom?

Shehabi: Several points here. Number one, ignoring the Saudi occupation of Bahrain is in itself a crime because it is allowing a strong party to occupy another people’s land and this is against international law.

Number two, some of the Al Khalifa allies especially the UK is maintaining that the Bahraini government has undertaken a lot of reforms in its judiciary, in its judicial system. In fact this report will show the opposite that the regime has failed to undertake any reform. In fact if anything, the justice system has become highly unjust according to the report.

Number three, ignoring the ongoing revolution by the Western media is in itself unjust because the only functioning revolution in the Arab world now, the only remaining revolution is the Bahraini one because it has been going on day and night.

Every day there are demonstrations. There are thousands of prisoners and it is a functioning revolution. It is not just talking about a change but it is there, people are killed. Last week two people were killed by the regime and today and yesterday, others have been sentenced to harsh sentences, so ignoring this revolution is in itself unfortunate and also inhumane.

So I hope this report will find some space in the mainstream media to show that there are in this world, regimes that are outside the norms of democracy and are part of the old antiquated, non-functional systems which are based on hereditary dictatorships. 


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