Peter Clifford Online


TIMELINE – 24th February 2012

Things started off well this week in Manama when some wag involved with the organising of “Bahrain – Arab Capital of Culture 2012″ festivities debuted the opening of the Open Air Cinema with a film entitled “Hamad and The Pirates”.
This visionary film was made by Walt Disney in 1971, little knowing then that the “chief pirate”, Prime Minister Khalifah ibn Sulman al-Khalifah, would still be in power almost 41 years later.
The movie climaxes with Hamad, the hero, getting his hands on lots of treasure.  Some stories just never change much, do they?

Showing At a Cinema Near You - "Hamad and the Pirates"

It is rumoured that some members from the Opposition parties in Bahrain are working on a remake of the 1971 Disney classic -  same title but a different ending.
It was also another very busy and gruelling week for King Hamad shuffling important paperwork it seems.
The King started his week, eventually, on Tuesday by sending a “cable of congratulations” to the organisers of the “Al Fateh” pro-government rally that took place at the Grand Mosque.
Al Wefaq, who currently hold the Guinness Book of Records entry for the largest number of rallies ever held in Bahrain, are still waiting to receive their own congratulatory cable from the King, but hopefully it will arrive some day soon.
On Wednesday the King’s time was taken up devising a cable to send to St. Lucia (Where is that, you might ask? A very, very small island in the Caribbean) on the occasion of their Independence Anniversary.
Things really hotted up later in the day when the King issued 3 laws and 2 decrees.
One of these decrees appointed the new Chief Executive of the Electricity and Water Authority. Much to everyone’s surprise he was called Sheikh Al Khalifa (Nawaf bin Ebrahim bin Hamad).
King Hamad also sent a cable of thanks to the head of the Koh-Kae Wun Federation which granted him his Black Belt Dan-9.  How the King managed to fit the rigorous training for this award into his busy schedule is hard to imagine. But well done your majesty!
Apparently the King’s “thank you” letter will be displayed at the Koh-Kae Museum in Korea in Arabic, English and Korean.  They will probably have to import some riot police from Bahrain to subdue the massive crowds wanting to read it.
On Thursday King Hamad dispatched a cable to “Guiana” (Where is that, you might ask? A small country of 770,000 on the northern coast of South America) congratulating them on their Independence Day.  Hopefully the cable arrived as the country, formerly known as “British Guiana” has been called the Co-operative Republic of Guyana since 1970.
Flagging a bit the King had to call in the other two members of  “the wise leadership”, the Prime Minister and the Crown Prince,  in order to send an Independence Day cable to the Sultan of Brunei ( a very small kingdom in South – East Asia on the island of Borneo, population 402,000).
Today Friday, the King is reported to have ended his week with another congratulatory cable sent to Estonia (Where is that, you might ask? Small Baltic country in northern Europe, formerly part of the Soviet Union but now in the EU.)
Hopefully the King is now enjoying a well deserved rest before he commences another demanding schedule next week.
(EDITOR: My thanks to the English version of the official Government website Bahrain News Agency (BNA) for providing me with such an endless supply of fascinating and important material.  “BNA – mesmerising the people of Bahrain”.)
While the King is really busy trying to keep his mind on the important problems of his kingdom, let us not forget the people languishing in his prisons who really matter.

Abdulhadi AlKhawaja - Hunger Strike "Freedom or Death" - BCHR

The BICI report recommended that all political prisoners in Bahrain should be freed and while the end of the period in which all the recommendations would, according to the King, be implemented “in their entirety”  by the end of February is rapidly approaching, there is still no sign that this will happen.
A number of Bahrain’s political prisoners have been on hunger strike to publicise their cases, many of which involve 15 years in prison on trumped up charges and even terms of life imprisonment.
One of the life prisoners is Abdulhadi AlKhawaja, a Danish citizen of Bahraini origin who has campaigned most of his life for human rights and democracy.
Abdulhadi is currently in the 16th day of a “freedom or death” hunger strike, despite pleas from his supporters to end it.
Visiting him on Wednesday, his lawyer, Mohamed AlJishi, reported that he was looking tired and pale and had lost a lot of weight – but still holding his head high and smiling.
A urine check had revealed traces of blood and he is now drinking juice in order to avoid kidney failure.
From Jaw prison he released this statement: “I thank who ever stand in solidarity with me and people of Bahrain outside and inside the country. The case is not only about me. It’s about all wrongfully detainees in Bahrain. My hunger strike is a part of my Human rights defence inside jail. It’s very important to focus on all detainees as I’m just a part of them. I will continue with my hunger strike till I reach my demands despite the consequences. I’m aware that freedom is expensive and we must sacrifice to gain it.”
At a sit-in protest outside the UN offices in Bahrain on Wednesday opposition supporters met to condemn the international silence ignoring the abuse of human rights in Bahrain and some of those present wore T-shirts with Abdulhadi AlKhawaja’s picture.

In Support of AlKhawaja Outside the UN Office, Manama

Sanad Mohammed speaking on behalf of Bahrain’s Opposition parties stressed the fact that no dialogue with the Government will be valid until the people’s demands are listened to, the current government resigns, all political prisoners are released, political naturalization stops (importing foreign migrants and giving them automatic Bahraini citizenship) and those responsible for corruption, brutality, torture and other crimes are held accountable.
Abdulhadi AlKhawaja is a gentle, considerate and brave man who is risking his life for the human rights of all those in Bharain.  Discuss his case with your friends, mention it on FaceBook and Tweet #FreeAlkhawaja and make it Trend. There is much at stake. You can read more HERE:
“Batty” Bernie Ecclestone is at it again. Ecclestone, the head of Formula One Management, the multi-million dollar company that runs F1 Grand Prix, announced to the media yesterday that, despite concerns expressed by some teams and drivers about running F1 in Bahrain:
“Nobody is saying we’re not going or we don’t want to go or anything. Everybody is quite positive. I’ve told all the teams there’s no problem at all. I’m absolutely 100% sure we’ll go there and there will be no problem.”
But Ecclestone did say that Bahraini Government officials had assured him that “extra precautions” would be taken to ensure the safety of everyone involved with Formula One.
This could mean a massive security clampdown on a similar scale to the uprising anniversary period around February 14th 2012, when police prevented opposition supporters both leaving their villages and reaching the symbolic Pearl Roundabout area.
Sounding rather nervous and repeating himself, Ecclestone said further about the Bahraini security forces, “I am sure the people there will make sure, just in case there’s a problem. I am sure there won’t be a problem”.  
Nervous he might well be, as Opposition groups, if the Grand Prix goes ahead, are sure to demonstrate their objections to the international community via F1 condoning repression and human rights violations in Bahrain.