'KSA, US hindering democracy in Bahrain'
Tue Sep 6, 2011 4:34PM
An exclusive interview with Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahraini Center for Human Rights, from Manama
Saudi Arabia leverages its influence on the United States and European countries in order to stop the spread of democracy in the Middle East, particularly in neighboring Bahrain.
In an exclusive interview with Press TV, Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahraini Center for Human Rights, tells us that Bahraini citizens deserve to have a country where people live in equality, and a system exists with fair distribution of wealth and power.
Press TV: About 12 doctors out of 47 who were detained, that includes some nurses, have gone on hunger strikes, some in a coma because of it, with more detainees joining it - about 200 based on the latest reports, including opposition movement member like Abduljalil al-Singace, and prominent human rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja. Give us your reaction to this, please, and anymore explanations to this you can give.
Rajab: As you know, it started by the doctors and joined by the politicians and human rights defenders who are in prison. Now, almost all the prisoners in the dry dock prisons are on hunger strike. Many of these soldiers and policemen who are in detention, along with their families including their kids, are joining the hunger strike.
At least 120 people tonight among those people who are on a hunger strike have protested in front of the Bahrain mall, one of the biggest Bahraini shopping malls. The moment they started their hunger strike, they were attacked by tear gas, rubber bullets and sound bombs.
The situation is deteriorating as some of those doctors are being transferred to the hospital. Efforts are deteriorating due to this hunger strike.
The children members of the doctors' families are joining this hunger strike. It is a few days now.
It is worrying, the health condition of those people, but, unfortunately, there is not a civilized government which considers the lives of its own citizens. The Bahraini government is ignoring the courts, the recommendation of all human rights organizations that it's said for weeks and months.
I don't think the Bahraini government will transfer the cases from the military court to the civilian court. As you know, the reason of this protest, this hunger strike is because they've been tried before the military courts.
Human rights organizations, all international human rights communities think that civilian people should be tried before a civilian court and not a military court. But the Bahrain government, and because of the Saudi support by military and political means, think they could do anything they want to do.
They think they can violate and commit crimes against humanity, and nobody is going to talk to them as far the Saudis are behind them. This is what we are witnessing at this moment.
Press TV: Pointblank, you have Saudi Arabia, on the one hand, as part of the [P]GCC, Persian Gulf Cooperation Council. Then you have the UK and the US, the US with its Fifth Fleet, on the other hand. By some accounts, a change in Bahrain many are saying is doomed not to happen because these countries. My question is how far will these countries go to stop and crush the revolution in Bahrain?
Rajab: Well, you have to take something into consideration. Any democracy in Bahrain will have an impact in Saudi Arabia. And democracy in Saudi Arabia is something that they don't want to see.
Iraq becoming a democracy is a threat, which is not as close as Bahrain. Now, in Bahrain, which is walking distance from Saudi Arabia, democracy is reaching a close distance and is very dangerous to the Saudis. This is how they view it.
From the other side, you have to take something else into consideration, that we have realized those revolutions in the Arab Spring, that the Saudis influence in some European countries and the United States is more than the influence of those European countries and the United States on Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region.
That's why we have seen how much Saudi Arabia could silence, and the Americans could silence some of the European countries into saying anything or taking any strong decision on the Bahraini situation.
We have seen how much crime is being committed by specific countries and ignored by other countries. Unfortunately, we have realized that democracy in the United States and some European countries are important only to those countries they have a problem with, but not to those dictators whom they have a good relationship with, like Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
See how much Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries come when the American president speaks and criticizes the situation in the Arab region when he talks about democracy, human rights, values and principles.
Saudi Arabia is always ignored, although Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest human rights violators in the region. But it is almost always ignored. Why? Because of the Saudi influence.
Unfortunately, the Saudi influence is very strong in the United States. It's very strong in Europe. That's why they could silence those countries in criticizing Bahrain. That's why for many months people were killed, a thousand people were fired, mosques were being demolished, people were arrested, systematic torture, houses being robbed by the army...in complete silence from the Western countries and the United States. Unfortunately, this is something you have to take into consideration.
I know my people in Bahrain. I know we have young people here, and when they started their uprising, when they started their revolution, they have not depended on the Americans, they have not depended on the Western powers; they have not depended on their neighboring countries.
They have depended on themselves and their beliefs. And they justified their beliefs that they must have a democracy. They deserve to live like any other European countries which have a right to elections, that have elected a parliament, that have elected a government which a prime minister can be changed before an audience, people live in equality, fair distribution of wealth, a fair distribution of power...this is what people are fighting for. We are depending on ourselves.
Unfortunately, yes, we tried to get help, political support, moral support of international communities, and if it comes then thank you very much. If it comes, it doesn't matter much. We know the complications of the international communities. We know their interests. We know the economic influence. We know the American presence here is serving the dictators but this is the situation that we have to deal with and we are dealing with.