Nabeel Rajab: Bahraini king still plays sectarian card

Written by  Published by:Shiite News
Published in Middle East
Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Nabeel-RajabQ:  Let me begin with you Mr. Rajab, since you just came back from Bahrain. What can you tell us about what is happening over there?

It seems that the kingdom will not be intimidated by human rights groups. Will it continue its crackdown, do you think?

Rajab:  Well it does not seem that things [are] changing on the ground, although the report were out of Bassiouni and people thought that things are going to
look better and people will be released next day, specially when he says that most of the people who have been detained, are being tried in a court that does not meet international standard for fair trial or they were already arrested and tortured.

But still you see people in detention, still you see excessive use of force by the security institution, still people being tortured in jail, still villages and homes are raided in a daily basis.

So since Bassiouni started working we have approximately ten or more than ten people were killed so far.

So that shows government is not serious, government more they want to have a better image abroad. That is why they are employing more and more PR companies, than really want to change the actual situation in the ground.

That is why you do not see no changes, although Bahraini king going here and there, I mean a lot of ministers been visiting PR companies internationally because as you know their image has been damaged in the past month, due to the report been issued by the human right groups around the world.

Q:  The fact that Manama regime had hired experts, had a former police officer from Miami, another one from the UK Metropolitan Police, does it seem that they need more help in order to continue this crackdown on their people? Was the Persian Gulf Council not enough?

Rajab:  Well this is what the government try to pretend, try to convince the international community. All the human rights violation is due to lack of training police as not due to the policy of systematic violation and torture. And I think the whole international community are aware of the misleading policy of Bahrain government and now even those guys who have been brought by Bahrain government, they have a record also in the human rights violation. I mean at least in average in United States that the guy brought from United States, he had a bad record.

I do not think they need to that. I do not think they need to bring people from the United States or England. The problem is within the system, is within the government, is within the ruling ally. If the government is the member of ruling family, practicing torture by their own hand, bringing somebody from United States will not help that.

By now, the guy heading this state security apparatus who is the main responsible for most of the violation, when you upgrade him and award him a better job, that is not a good signal, does not send a good message to the people and will not get solved by bringing somebody from United States.

You have to repair your system, you have to repair your regime, you have to fix your own people and member of your own family who were committing torture, including the two sons of the king who were once committing torture about human rights defenders and politicians.

Q:  Now the fact people were looking hopefully at the Bassiouni report and what it can do and how it can change the stance, if we may say, of the kingdom. Do you think the fact that the Bassiouni report ruled out that Iran has any involvement inside Bahrain would make somewhat the stance of the kingdom somewhat moderate?

Rajab:  Well, I mean this is one thing that we have been always accused, Bahrain and Iran, Shiites in Iran and Bahrain government were smart in playing that, taking the advantage of the bad relation between the West and Iran from the other side and now you see the king again repeating the same thing against Syria which again he wants to play the same card but now taking the advantage of bad relation between the Western countries and Syria.

I mean this is the problem. That shows you these people are not going to change. They are using the same tools, using the same card, Shiite, Sunni, Iran, West, Syria, West; they do not admit that they have a problem. They do not admit they are the problem. They need to fix themselves.

That is why day and day, we believe it is very difficult for these people or those people to change themselves, very difficult. Because they are still playing with the same cards, still trying to put their problems with the others, Iran inside this and Syria inside that. They do not admit the problem is themselves, the problem is within their system. That has to be changed.

Q:  Mr. Rajab, the kingdom has used the sectarian card over and over again. Do you think it has been successful at least when it comes to other kingdoms and other states in the Persian Gulf?

Rajab: Well they have in fact always failed but certainly they could frighten some groups in the society that democracy might bring Shiites in power, Shiites in Iran and they tried to also mark this idea in the other [P]GCC countries.

But now as time pass by, people start to realize that Bahrain government is playing with this card for many years. They were playing with Iran card, now they are playing with sectarian card because people of Bahrain, they have the same demand, Shiites and Sunni.

There is nothing called sectarian demand. They want elected government, they want parliament that has power to legislate, to monitor; they want to have an end to the corruption and to the human rights violation. And all these demands, if it comes, it will apply [to] all Shiites and Sunni.

So government of Bahrain is still trying to play the same card but they are not as strong convincing as they do before.

Q: Do you think that the US or the West as a whole, fears that the loud voice, if we may say, of the revolution in Bahrain would extend onto other allies like Saudi Arabia, and that therefore they need to give them more support?

Rajab: Well you have to accept that Saudi Arabia is influential now with their wealth and money and oil. [P]GCC countries, [Persian] Gulf countries, they are influential now in the Western countries. They have a lot of media, that is why you have seen how much the Bahraini revolution were marginalized in the media and in the foreign policy.

The US also, they have exaggeration and fears. They have exaggerated of growing Islamism or extremism among Muslim and this is also what the [Persian] Gulf countries, at least a few leaders in the [Persian] Gulf countries, try to convince the Americans and some Western countries.

That is why they have created some fundamentalist group in their own country and whenever any democracy come into power, those people to come up to tell the West, see if we are not the one those groups, those fundamentalists are going to come and this is the problem in the Western counties.

But now you have to take it or leave it. Revolution is coming; changes are coming, people they want to change. Democracy started now from Tunisia as a snowball, you take it or you work with it or then you are going to have a conflict with it.

People of Bahrain when they started the revolution, they were not building on the American position, they were not building on the Iranian position, they were not building on the outside position.

They want to change. They want to have a better future, they want to have justice, democracy, human rights and they are going to do it, sooner or later. They are not going to stop, whether US to stand with them or tomorrow does not stand with them or any; they were not building on those support.

We are inside made revolution and we did not ask for an outside support, we will not ask for an outside support and for that reason I believe that we are going to win the battle.

Yes, it is costly. We lost a lot of lives, thousands of people were wounded, many people killed, tortured, fired from work, that is the cost of the change we are fighting for but I very much believe that we are going to win the battle.

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