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Thursday, June 23, 2011

The horrible spectacle of false justice in Bahrain

It’s overwhelming sometimes. Despite the ongoing brutal violence taking place in Syria, Libya and Yemen, sometimes the flagrant abuse of power that hides itself in the guise of law is harder to stomach. Today in Bahrain, eight activists were sentenced to life in prison on false charges.

Life

In prison

I don’t really have a whole lot to say about it. To call it a travesty of justice is an understatement.

Outside of Bahrain the outrage seems muted – the size of the situations elsewhere are so much bigger, while Bahrain is so small that the scale gets lost in the mix (not to mention the ancient law of journalism – if it bleeds it leads), but per capita, Bahrain is suffering on a level that no other middle eastern country is right now.

Rather than simply restate the details (you can read more here), I have excerpted a section of yesterday’s twitterfeed by Zainab Alkhawaja, a Bahraini blogger who posts under the name @angryarabiya

Her father is one of the eight who were sentenced to life in prison today.

***

On my way to military court, to witness the sentencing of my father
and 20 other activists & leaders.

Hello all, tweeting from a prison called Bahrain. Where all Bahrainis
have been serving a life-sentence under the oppression of the regime.

Today, my father, prominent human rights activist, Abdulhadi
Alkhawaja, has been sentenced to life in prison.

My father is a just man, & as Thoreau wrote "Under a gov which
imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a
prison"

After the sentence was read, my father raised his fist & shouted "WE
SHALL CONTINUE ON THE PATH OF PEACEFUL RESISTANCE!"

they started violently shoving my father out of the court room. All I
could think was "God is greater than these oppressors", so I said so

as my brothers have been doing from their rooftops every night, I
shouted "Allahu Akbar", until my mouth was covered by a military
policeman

I was pulled out of court with my mouth covered, then taken to a room
where i got handcuffed with my hands behind my back

with me in the room was Jalila, teacher who has been imprisoned for
being a part of the teachers association. Her trial was be4 my fathers

Jalila hadn't seen her children for 68 days, the youngest is a 5 year
old. Today she saw them for the 1st time since her arrest

We looked @ each other & smiled, couldn't speak with all the military
police in the room

A military policeman came into the room, walking directly towards me
and spat in my face. I looked away and smiled. Jalila looked v. upset

Another policeman came in & started shouting "IF ONLY WE WERE IN
TEHRAN WE COULD HAVE HANGED YOU A LONG TIME AGO!"

Jalila quietly whispered "Are u Zainab", I nodded. I fely very bad for
her, not seeing her children for that long broke my heart :(

policeman started wagging his finger in my face "Today I used my hand
to cover your mouth, next time I'll use something else to shut u up"

I looked away from him, & did not respond, #Sharp writes to overcome
fear we must understand it. I breathed deeply to get my heart rate
down

The policeman cntnd "If u dare show ur face @ the appeal, I will show
u wat i can do to you" I noticed his hands were trembling...

I cant say I wasn't afraid but with help of God I became v. calm &
relaxed. I smiled alot with Jalila to let her know I'm ok.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to see our hero Ayat Alqurmuzi, but even
hearing her name put a smile on my face & made me even more calm

My father & those with him might be behind bars, but they are more
free in spirit and mind than any of us. I am so proud of our
activists.

as AlSingace always tells us, "We will be released!". I dont believe
for a second that my dad & the others will spend their lives in prison

the Bahraini ppl wont allow it. Becuz we will all "continue on the
path of peaceful resistance"

***

For a bit more background, I also recommend Zainab's letter to Barack Obama. I don't always agree with her, but I have a tremendous amount of respect for her and her family.

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