Al Wefaq: regime working to dissolve dissent and besiege the opposition

Written by  Published by:Shiite News
Published in Bahrain
Wednesday, 01 January 2014

salman2Head of the Opposition Parties alliance al-Wefaq Hujjat ul Islam Sheikh Ali Salman has said that the Bahrain regime was trying hard to eliminate the remaining dissent besiege the opposition.

He spoke in detail about the peaceful revolution that began on February 14, 2011. What he said in his address at Imam

Sadiq Mosque and Seminary is:

Today, we will have a quick review on 2013 to shed light on the revolution that erupted on 14th February, 2011. We will go through the main issues related to the revolution: the media, human rights, political and regional aspects.

The media aspect, which is on two levels:

The local level: we have been left with only one newspaper that is officially allowed to cover the news, yet, under so many restrictions. It is trying hard to cope with and show its viewpoint within these restrictions. Except from this newspaper, all other local newspapers belong to the official state media or quasi-state media. The honest media remains more influential and owns more credibility than the state’s media which lacks credibility. The influential capability of the local media is very limited, not close to zero though, but it is very limited. Before and during the uprising, to date, this media has not shown any credibility, even in news, let alone analysis and articles. Therefore, readers and listeners no longer consider this media a source for the truth or information, let alone any influence. When regimes continuously choose to be against the reality, they eventually lose their credibility and their ability to influence. They rely on false information to influence, but with time, they will be in absolute loss of credibility. In this revolution, we don’t have a problem with the current state media, its performance adds nothing and changes nothing. It has no influential ability over the revolution or the citizens demanding democracy. If it is falsely accusing people and twisting facts that are so clear to the people, the people will certainly be more resolute and convinced that radical reform is needed and it is the right choice. However, I’m still satisfied, like I said before, that we shouldn’t read or interact with most of this media, and maybe all. The main reason I’m calling you to ignore this media, is to avoid the annoyance and frustration it causes you through its constant provocations and insults against the people and a particular sect and figures to avoid reading or listening to sectarian incitement. We can’t stop such insults now. But when you read them you will feel more irritated and you shouldn’t have to. We do not fear that this media can influence and change the peoples’ ideas. But it’s just to avoid being frustrated by the lowly language it uses. You don’t need to subscribe to any newspaper, or listen or watch any channel. Believe me, you won’t miss out on anything. I have a responsibility to follow everything in the news, yet, I have not needed to open these newspapers and still get to the truth. I can easily know what’s true and what’s not, what’s positive and what’s negative, without the hassle to open to refer to these newspapers. Now, the online media is a battlefield, the rivalry is boiling. The regime is making progress in website activation because it is financially more capable. The regime can hire one, ten or even a hundred for these jobs. You can refer to the announcements of the Ministry of Information in this. Nonetheless, you are the ones with a just cause.

Internationally, there are two points:

First point: the mostly read newspapers in America and Europe have continued to write about Bahrain. More than 90% of their coverage about Bahrain reflected the fact that there is an oppressive regime suppressing a people demanding democracy, which is something good. For political reasons, and because of the events that are happening across the region, the Bahraini issue is not being covered on a daily basis by Satellite channels. This issue is linked with political positions and the regional situation. Of course, blood attracts the media more. When there is an explosion in Beirut, which, by the way, we strongly condemn, it will take headlines in the news. We condemn violence whoever may be behind it, and we are totally concordant to this standard. The broad picture of the Bahraini issue in the international media is that the people are demanding democracy, freedom and essential political rights, and its demands are rightful. The world respects the people of Bahrain and shows more support to them day after day. On the contrary, there is a regime that suppresses these aspirations because it is an oppressive regime. This idea has become stronger year after year, and this is how the events of 2013 have been pictured in the international media.

Human rights aspect:

In 2013, Bahrain continued to be one of the worse countries in human rights in the world. This is the official accomplishment. The High Commissioner for Human Rights keeps mentioning Bahrain in her speeches. She is the most important person to talk about human rights. The HCHR even mentioned Bahrain in her speech in the UN Human Rights Council in a very important paragraph. For the past three years, Bahrain has maintained its position. It is mentioned in conjunction with the huge humanitarian and rights crisis in Syria. Numerous reports have been released about the rights situation in Bahrain by many international rights organizations and states and other parties, including the joint-statement by 47 countries. And we thank these countries here for following the Bahraini human rights situation.

The international community now considers Bahrain a rogue state. The Amnesty International report issued on 16th December about children in Bahrain said Bahrain does not commit to its pledges in human rights. This is how the international community deals with Bahrain.

Here we don’t need so much effort in the media, rights or even political aspect. We do not need to respond to every single statement made or released by officials. These statements are always outdated and it will be a waste of time to respond or comment. We respond if there is a real and challenging idea. You do not have to respond to an unelected prime ministers speaking about democracy while he has been in power for 43 years. Why should we comment? What is the point of commenting? Sadam Hussain used to preach about democracy and elections in Iraq though he was the only one running for presidency and used to win 100%, but at least that guy had put a ballot box, we don’t have a ballot box here, why shall we reply to him? Of course, nobody needs to prove that Sadam’s regime was a dictatorial one. There is no question and no discussion about that.

Now, there is an official who said, “Our response was so soft because we exaggerated in democracy”! What democracy is he talking about? Do we need to respond to such statements? International organizations, states and others, the whole world, is telling this regime you are repressive you need to listen to your people. Then we would hear an official talking about democracy and that the regime has been too soft.

That is why the Public Relations firms have failed to cover the real face of Bahrain. Instead, the repressive image of the regime remained as it continues to suppress basic legitimate demands which are freedom and equality and to respect the universal human rights standards. This image will stand bare and the regime will not be able to change it with money. It has lost and will lose. There are universal humanitarian changes on both the media and interest levels. This is why the regime’s approach is useless. That does not mean that we will stop working. We should work harder on the media aspect and on the rights aspect, we need to document things and send them to the concerned parties.

The political aspect:

The 2013 witnessed more political highlights to the Bahraini issue. The speech of President Obama before the General Assembly of the United Nations was considered one of the most important speeches there, and Bahrain was part of it. This was a clear indicator that Bahrain has a political problem. Furthermore, there are continuous statements from the whole world about the situation in Bahrain, recently from France, underlining the need of a political resolution which can be produced from a genuine dialogue process in which all aspirations of the people must be fulfilled. Mentioning the need of ‘genuine’ dialogue indicates that the world doesn’t believe the current dialogue is a genuine one. The popular aspirations can’t be fulfilled with the Shia community and opposition parties being targeted, crushed and subjected to persecution. The desired fulfillment means transiting the country from the tribal rule to a democratic rule where the people are the source of all powers. This is how the continuous international statements entrench the true scene of the issue in Bahrain that is a political problem.

Bahrain cannot be ruled by authoritarianism and absolutism any more. This is the meaning of all these statements. But, they fall short of our ambition and what our pro-democracy struggle deserves. However, it is a step forward in the international position to at least keep on this tone. Well, we can feel a slow progress when we meet with the diplomatic corps in Bahrain and outside. Away from camera lights and media, Bahrain is getting closer and closer to those tyrannical systems which prevailed and got extinct. This is how many political officials see it. Whether they are in official posts now or former officials, they know Bahrain’s repression, dictatorship and tyranny.

Yet, this is the official international position which steps closer to feel the rightful popular demands to support the people. But, interests do matter. Interests are still stronger than these statements and decisions. There is a undecided conflict but in it the dispute is ongoing. In the places of decision, there is always an objection to the taken positions towards the Bahraini issue: when are we going to take the right side of history and adhere to our humanitarian stance. Until when are we going to hesitate? This is being said more and more in the places of decision-making. However, interests remain stronger though things change quite slowly. Our people must remain steadfast and peaceful. Things develop gradually and on an accumulative basis. The peacefulness and steadfastness of the people of Bahrain has put pressure on the international community to be fair towards their cause. The struggle for democracy can go on for a long time. Take Ireland and South Africa for example.

The report of the British parliament indicates what I have pointed out here. It is one of the most important political reports issued about Bahrain. It says the regime is responsible for the crisis, the regime is not serious in reform, it does not respect human rights. The whole word is saying this to the regime. This is the slow and hard process I am talking about.

The people:

This comes in the end but it is the backbone and primary aspect:

Over the past three years, up till 2013, the regime has not been able to repress our will towards freedom, dignity, democracy and humanity. It has failed. It was not able to block the way on our aspirations, hopes, movement and will. It intensified repression, arrests, prosecutions and layoffs. There are more dismissals from jobs now than the previous periods we’ve been through. The regime also intensified and entrenched discrimination, naturalization, and repression tools. Torture increased in 2013 compared to 2012.

On the other hand, it has failed to achieve its goal from this escalation as we have not retreated. It will fail in 2014 as long as this fight for dignity, freedom and democracy continues. On the contrary, the people have succeeded despite their agonies. The people are still daily in streets, in several ways. We don’t have a permanent sit-in, but we have nightly peaceful marches. We have media activism, solidarity demonstrations and symposiums. We have human rights activism. We have huge gatherings at least once a week. This is all expressing the revolution, movement and demands of the people.

We are all called upon to continue our peaceful revolution through different methods that are in line with international covenants and standards in freedom of peaceful assembly. Every individual must respond to this call and participate in the revolution.

I would like to point out here the regime’s predicament with the people’s movement in its lack of legitimacy. Today, there is no title for legitimacy other than the people. This legitimacy comes from free ballot boxes that stand on equality between citizenships. If a regime lacks this title, it lacks its people’s legitimacy, and this makes a major problem within the regime and in dealing with others. When there isn’t refusal of an unelected leader, things would be covered. But, when there is refusal of any unelected leader, he can’t save his face. Like a child that has done something wrong, you can see it in his face. This is how the regime meets the world. The regime is unable to face any free press conference, being inside Bahrain or abroad. It is having a really tough time in meeting others in the world because it is not welcomed. This is diplomacy. The Syrian regime is present in the United Nations despite the international position, but it is having a hard time. There is no solution for this predicament other than real ballot boxes that produce legislative and executive powers that can then contribute to forming the judicial power. This is the solution. Resorting to repression, lies and sham institutions is no solution and it has and will fail. One reason why this approach keeps failing is because the world has developed. The other reason depends on us. We must say that these institutions are fake, and present the truth to the world through our movement, and thus, the regime will fail in what it is seeking.

Let’s widen the regime’s predicament, let’s widen our boycott to this tyrannical regime through various peaceful methods. Let is understand that it is a regime that faces refusal in everything, in every aspect, big or small. Except those who need to. This is part of entrenching a peaceful civil disobedience to refuse any legitimization of the tyranny and any acceptance of it as a natural situation. This contributes to the demands movement towards change. I don’t take part in any polishing opening or dance or any sham events such as sham elections until the whole regime respects us as a people, as the source of all powers. Then, we will interact. Now, there is a boycott to demonstrate that the regime lacks the people’s legitimacy. We won’t give it our legitimacy, and let the world understand that checkpoints and security patrols are in streets, people are not satisfied.

As political parties, we will do whatever we can. We will revise our plans and mistakes. As individuals, we must be responsible. All sides take responsibility to be active parts. We cannot give up because of the long period and rest. You cannot rest after all the pains and agonies you have gone through.

Our biggest success is that the violent reactions to the State’s violence are limited. We have to work to further eliminate these violent reactions, and continue to develop nonviolent actions and reactions. We must work to maintain our peaceful framework. This was our choice in 2013, 2012, 2011 and is our choice for 2014. We can win this fight. There is a big ability to win this fight, and this tremendously depends on the people’s steadfastness. Repression cannot silent a lively people. The number of detainees has doubled to 3000. We don’t want another detainee, but we are prepared to be part of 10,000 detainees, even 20,000, but we will not give up. Peaceful resistance does not fear arrest, it does not stop because of arrests and harassments.

We, in Al-Wefaq, have a harsh daily review for every event, every issue, and our steps are taken in light of this review. One program may be approved, another may disappear, a new program may arise. I have always called here for a complete adherence to peaceful methods and to work to develop and increase these methods. Violence does not bring any positive result. Violence is a reaction to the regime’s repression. Had there been no repression from the regime, there would not have been any violent reactions. We understand the reasons, but this is part of the challenge; how do we reach our benefit rather than express our anger. Violence costs us injuries and arrests.

The regional scene:

The panicky situations in Tunis and Egypt, and till now in Yemen and Libya, had negative impact on the Arabic region, including Bahrain. Regrettably, the Arabic revolutions have not calmed to produce stable democratic systems. This lessened the enthusiasm of other Arab nations to change tyrannical regimes, and so the counter-revolutions were able to slow down the democratic progress. Yes, it has not succeeded to totally end it but it did slow it down. This democratic progress could have served all the Arab nations in easier democratic transitions.

The continued Syrian crisis is dominating international news headlines and politics. For us, this isn’t good. If 100,000 march in a protest, it will not get to the news when there is a bombardment in Syria and a battle here or there, Syria will take 4 news stories. So this crisis affected our portion in news coverage and politics. When we come to cold evaluations, we say a certain administration is talking about the Syrian issue. The Bahraini issue is present, but under the Syrian one that is taking the entire table.

The détente in Western-Iranian relations was a positive change. I think this change will strongly work in 2014. It could be reflected on all issues, we don’t know, but it is possible. I think its reflection on Bahrain will a positive one because it provides the ground for a fair political solution.

International stances are slowly changing from the stalling and diplomatic speech stage towards a stage where steps and decisions are taken, or stricter language is used with the regime. Right now, we are in a stage between compliment towards the regime and the change in positions. We don’t think that the international community will support the repressive regime. This is not how we envision it. It is possible that the international community will shift from its flattery stage to a clearer language towards Bahrain and will then act. This comes as a result of the people’s struggles and the pure blood of the martyrs.

2014, a brief outlook:

The sufferings of our people commenced in the 1783, it then intensified after the independence in 1971. We then entered an intense crisis and our agonies became much worse on 14th February, 2011. This is the history of our struggle.

The core of this struggle is the marginalization of the people and deprivation from exercising right of decision making in politics and economics. This has largely affected their freedom, dignity and resources. As a result, poverty has widely spread among citizens as basic services have been so much affected despite the fact Bahrain is rich in its natural resources such as oil, agriculture and sea resources and was one of the richest countries in the area apart from the eastern province of Saudi Arabia. Before the oil era, people used to leave the desert and migrate to Bahrain. People only left Bahrain at times of suppression, not because of a lack in natural resources. The natural resources of the country were adequate for the people at that time. Then oil was discovered in 1932 and we could have lived in prosperity, without the need for any financial aids, and still save much wealth for our next generations, if we had found more substitute resources. What do you think saved Kuwait from Iraq’s invasion? Kuwait has billions of investments that bring more earnings than its oil. So it spent some and faced the Iraqi regime. If we invest our surpluses, their revenues will exceed our revenue from oil. If we had found real industrial, sea and agricultural substitutes, we won’t need to say that we have an economic problem. We won’t need this public debt and we wouldn’t have had this housing crisis. These are results of this problem.

In 2014, we will not retreat, we need to constantly progress. Let 2014 be the year of the continuation of the peaceful popular struggle through various methods. Everyone has a responsibility, all groups must be responsible enough to co-operate and integrate and pull together to reach our legitimate rights.

Our aim is to make Bahrain a stable country heading towards a humanitarian and democratic country that equally embraces all factions so we can build our future together; this is the aim of our revolution.

The regime is suffering from an irrational fear that is illustrated in several places. Al-Barbaghi mosque is one of the oldest mosques in Bahrain, it was built over 400 years ago. This mosque is an irrational fear to the regime because the regime is 230 years old which is less than the age of a 400-year-old mosque. This adds to the fact that it is located on a highway. The regime has a strategy to hide all Shiite landmarks in this country as much as possible. It will not allow Shiites to build the grand mosque which is planned to be built by landlord Haji Hassan because it does not want show any marks that belong to Shiites. It will not allow Shhites to build religious places in Hamad Town so they would not appear to passersby from the highways, inner roads are fine. On the contrary, the regime builds respectable grand mosques of our Sunni brothers on main roads. Now, we do not have any problem with that, but this is a sick mentality. This mosque has been in that location before the regime came to this land and this a big issue for them and they see that they have to relocate it to inner roads. Anything has to be built in its original land to prevent passersby from seeing it. What kind of mentality is this?

You can’t eradicate history, people have memories. You can’t falsify history anymore. Here, we had Shiite clerics who follow the family of Prophet Mohammed since the first century of Islam. Sa’sa’h Ibn Sawhan is a follower of this belief, our heritage have been preserved to date. There is Shaikh Amir Zayd ( Sa’sa’h Ibs Sawhan’s son), Sayed Hashim, Shaikh Maytham, the followers of this belief were in this region since the early years of Islam until now. Every stone marks this fact, even if you have removed a stone from Al-Khamis ancient mosque.

The grave of Imam Hussain faced the same scenario, there have been many attempts throughout history to demolish it and remove it from the ground, but because it represents right and justice, it is a humanitarian issue something that is connected to God, it has been reconstructed to be much bigger and higher than it used to be. We can’t be uprooted from history, we are part of the people of Bahrain and won’t be uprooted by demolishing a mosque and constructing a street.

This is a joke. We had bought a land to construct a building for Al-Wefaq near the Isa Town intersection. But the sick doctrine refused to give permission. Some could not accept the idea that Al-Wefaq’s building would be seen by everyone passing by, especially that the Saudi causeway leads to this intersection. So they told us the land in front is private property although it wasn’t and we had bought the land from the constructor. But the big fuss was that Al-Wefaq’s building would be in a main and apparent location.

Finally, I’d like to address parents to urge their children to pay much effort to their studies in the coming few days as the final exams are approaching.

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