1 thought on “Bahrain: a fine and a trial”

  1. I read your recent posting on Bahrain with interest. It raised issues that I felt required an official Bahraini response so passed it for comment to the Bahraini Ambassador in London, HE Sheikh Fawwaz bin Mohammed Al Khalifa. He writes as follows:
    “I would like to correct inaccuracies and factual errors in the article titled “Bahrain: a fine and a trial”.
    With regards to the issue of Mr Hasan Mushaima and his trial, while the article did reference the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry’s (BICI) report, it fails to follow-through on its findings, its recommendations and their implementation.
    One of those recommendations was to review all verdicts and trials that have occurred during the period of February and March 2011. That recommendation was implemented and a review of evidence, both in terms of admissibility and sufficiency of proof, was conducted. Mr. Hasan Mushaima exercised his right to appeal and his right to due process was guaranteed. Trials were open and observers, be they foreign diplomats or NGOs, have attended them.
    Mr. Mushaima has been found guilty of seeking to overthrow Bahrain’s current system and to abolish the constitution through violent means. The BICI report refers to “the general state of insecurity and the breakdown of law and order” that existed “for several days throughout Bahrain” (para 528). It has also been proven that during that period Mr. Mushaima actively called for and incited violent acts and criminal conduct that had an immediate effect on the ground. It must be stated that the 35 deaths cited by the article in the BICI report included among them police officers, expatriates, and by-standers. During 2011 and to this day, the region has seen many examples of the danger and calamity to which that conduct can lead, particularly during a period of high sectarian tensions and what the BICI described as a “gravely deteriorated state of law and order in Bahrain” (para 654).
    It must also be noted that the Government of Bahrain acknowledged the demands of non-violent elements and offered dialogue and reform. The report states that “If HRH the Crown Prince’s initiative to hold a national dialogue at the time had been accepted, it could have paved the way for significant constitutional and political reform in Bahrain” (672) and that the refusal by the opposition to accept was due mainly to “a belief in their ability to achieve greater political gains”.
    Bahrain continues to confront terrorism and extremism. Since 2011, there have been 22 police deaths and 3468 injuries, 115 of them life-changing. Over the last seven years, Bahrain’s security forces have uncovered an unprecedented amount of internationally-sourced explosives and bomb-making materials, intended for use in terror attacks such as Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), claymore mines, machine guns and grenades. In December last year the UK Parliament proscribed terrorist groups operating in Bahrain (the Al-Ashtar Brigades, the Wa’ad Allah Brigades, the Islamic Allah Brigades, the Imam al-Mahdi Brigades, Al Haydariyah Brigades and Al-Mukhtar Brigades groups) as terrorist organisations.
    With regards to Mr. Mushaima’s healthcare, access to healthcare and its provision is something that is taken very seriously in the Kingdom of Bahrain. So much so, it is a right guaranteed in article 8 of the constitution stating that “Every citizen is entitled to health care”. The constitution makes no distinction between any citizen and those in prison or detention in their right to healthcare.
    On the matter of citizenship revocations, the actions taken by the Kingdom of Bahrain have been taken in accordance with the law, and with the aim of preserving security and stability while countering threats of terrorism. Many among them belong to or are affiliated with ISIS. However, deportation has been implemented only in a very small minority of cases. Civil rights and public services are unaffected, neither are decisions extended to family and relatives. In cases where the Government has revoked the citizenship of an individual, that individual posed a serious threat to the security of Bahrain. Intelligence protocols do not allow the provision of additional information but each person is free to appeal the decision in a court of law. The government of Bahrain has taken issue with the alleged number of revocations published by Amnesty International.”
    I would add two brief points to the ambassador’s note.
    First, whilst this posting raised valid issues they do need to be seen in context. I feel you could helpfully balance your generally critical postings on Bahrain with recognition that it remains the most liberal and open of the Gulf states. It also deserves to be given credit for what it has achieved, not least by holding the BICI and the implementation of key recommendations such as the appointment of ombudsmen, and especially whilst facing a serious threat of internal violence with foreign support akin to that once posed to the UK by the IRA. The consequences of that violence can be seen not only in the quite appalling numbers of police suffering murder and injury in recent years but also in random disruption of daily life such as the widespread attacks on girls’ schools. The UK’s proscription of the Shi’a terrorist groups, heirs to al-Haq, that the ambassador lists, is a significant development and is, I think, relevant to your posting. It was heartening that the Home Secretary spoke warmly of HMG’s wish to continue its close cooperation with Bahrain in the field of security at a meeting with the Bahraini Interior Minister earlier this week.
    Secondly, the great majority of the Shi’a community, members of which hold ministerial positions and other senior appointments in government, are as opposed to the disruption and intimidation they suffer at the hands of the extremists as the rest of the population.

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