It has been more than 7 months now that Al Khalifa regime in Bahrain has imposed a siege on Diraz village where top religious figure Sheikh Isa Qassim is residing; moreover, a recent execution of three young Bahrainis drew much criticisms toward the tough response the country has had through 6 years of peaceful protests.
As the intense situation and oppressive measures of the regime in Bahrain isincreasing in recent days, we have talked to the Irish human rights activist and CEO of Human Rights Sentinel Tara Reynor O'Grady to shed more light on the issue. Here is out conversation:
How do you see protest movement in Bahrain against Al Khalifah regime? Do you suppose it a violent movement or it seeks its goals peacefully?
The people know that the regime wants to incite violence so that they can be justified in cracking down on them. It is against their ethos and their best interest to rise in that manner. This is why the opposition have been exhausting every effort to engage through using internationally accepted methods of diplomacy. However, there is no will from the regime to commit to meaningful dialogue.
The youth are understandably frustrated and have no way to express themselves in order to be heard, this is one of the reasons for burning tyres. The forces patrol the villages with malevolence and seek opportunities for reprisals against protestors. Protecting the villages from these raids coupled with an element of enraged retaliation affords the opportunity for skirmishes to break out. But the weapons are one sided. Considering the absolute enormity of the protests it is clear that if the people were indeed given to rebellion... there would be a blood bath.
What is Bahraini regime’s goal from trial of Bahrain's senior Shia Cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim after execution of three young political activists? And why Bahraini authorities postponed the trial?
Sheikh Issa Qassim is the most senior and most highly respected holy man in the country, this means that the Shia community are his flock and that in actuality he has more 'power' over them than the Al Khalifas ever possibly could. They fear his voice and want to silence him, similar to the authorities in Eastern Qattif who wanted to remove Sheikh Nimr Al-Nimr (God rest his soul).
One would hope that the postponement of the trial is due to some rational thinking on the part of someone in the authorities or a small group of voices with common sense. However, the regime does not care about their international reputation because they have not listened to the many loud calls for human rights to be observed by NGOs, the UN and many governments who have expressed profound concern over the crisis. The recent executions reflect how they have been emboldened to by their strange military and economic relationships with America and the UK and the familial support they enjoy from Saudi.
What’s your comment –as a human right defender- on preventing people from practicing their religious rituals? Is that illegal accord to UN charter?
I believe in plurality and fostering respect for one another’s faith. It is a heinous thing to prevent someone from practicing their method of prayer, to demolish their holy places, to arrest clerics and to kill people while they are congregating.
Why western states always ignore some Arab regimes crimes and continue arming these totalitarian governments?
Follow the money, the weapons and the power. The war machine must be fed.
Why don’t we consider a strong reaction from international society to crimes of Bahrain government, in comparison with their propaganda against Syrian state? While we see Syrian rebels are armed but Bahraini protestors are unarmed?
We actually DO see a strong reaction from international society. Everyone knows what’s happening in Bahrain. It is a high agenda topic in Brussels at EU Parliament and Geneva at the UN, for many concerned NGOs, for the Trade Unions and others. But because the USA, KSA and UK have such powerful influence on the island and are already very comfortably in bed with the authorities there is little fear of a mass spill over to negatively impact profitability. A 'stronger' reaction would be economic sanctions, removing privileges from the elite who try to whitewash their activities by hosting science fairs or racing horses and cars, and preventing their children from attending private schools and colleges in countries that are willing to do more than just lend oral solidarity to those suffering under this tyrannical regime.
Interview by: Mohammad Mazhari