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'Bahrain is a police state'
Thu, 28 Apr 2011 18:31:34 GMT
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Saudi forces have continued to oppress the peaceful protesters in Bahrain while promoting discrimination against Shia Muslims and issuing death sentences through military court.

Press TV interviewed Bahrain activist Ali al-Faraj about discrimination in Bahrain and the popular revolution there.

Press TV: Our other guest was talking about Shias in Bahrain and how they are being discriminated against to say the least. Of course we have had statements coming from our critics where they are accusing this regime in Bahrain of sectarian separation, and of a sectarian purge.

Tell us what that means and what are the consequences not only from the Bahraini regime backed by Saudi forces, but also the silence from the United States in particular, and countries that are agreeing to this targeting of Shias.

Faraj: The demands of the Bahraini people have been there for the last several decades. If there was no discrimination in Bahrain and everything was fantastic, we wouldn't have had the revolution on the 14th of February. Even the Sunni citizens are also living in poverty. Obviously discrimination is much more against the Shia population. But Sunnis do not have freedom of speech and there is a lot of poverty. The whole population suffers and the wealth is taken by a minority in the country.

There is no freedom of speech. We had like only one or two years after the National Charter when the political prisoners were released. These violations of human rights have been there for the last few decades. Obviously, they have intensified after the revolution, and after the severe crackdown of the protesters. With regards to the silence, unfortunately the Bahraini regime has been backed by the US administration. They have supported the crackdown on the revolution.

The revolution has been peaceful. In fact, when the revolution started, the protesters were giving out roses and flowers to the riot police. Unfortunately, they were treated with brutality. Now there are around 1,000 political prisoners, and many people have been dismissed from their jobs. Many college students have been stopped, and mosques have been demolished.

So, all these violations of civilian rights indicate that this regime has gone too far actually with the crackdown. It's not just about the political agenda of slowing down the revolution or preventing people from protesting. In addition, it's a sort of revenge. So we hope the US administration will change their position and stand for the people. This has not been the case.

Press TV: Please tell us about Saudi Arabia, as the most recent development was the news that the Saudi King was to visit Bahrain today. However, he canceled just 24 hours before coming. Some say he is afraid.

If that is indeed true, tell us your reflection on that piece of news, and the role they are really exercising in Bahrain when it comes to what is going down on the streets.

Faraj: We don't know the agenda or reason for the visit. However, the role of the Saudi troops in Bahrain is obviously not what they declared, such as safeguarding the infrastructure. Nothing has been attacked by protesters. The protests and demonstrations have all been peaceful. They might have blocked some roads or something like that, but this is the nature of any demonstration.

None of the buildings have been harmed by the protesters. In fact, what we have witnessed and seen is that it's the riot police that is demolishing buildings and attacking cars, etc.

Obviously the Saudi troops do not know Bahrain very well. All that they do in Bahrain is being guided by the Bahraini regime because the Bahraini regime knows the villages and places where demonstrations occur. They know all the details. It's a police state, so obviously the intelligence is very active. This has been true for several decades.

Press TV: When Saudi Arabia came to Bahrain, roughly six weeks ago, I can almost be assured that according to observers they did not anticipate to be in Bahrain for this length of time.

Do you agree with that? Do you think Saudi Arabia thought they could quell the violence in a matter of weeks? Right now we are looking at six weeks. How much longer are they going to stay there? Is it indefinite? and what is the stance that Saudi Arabia has?

Faraj: Well, there are no signs that they are withdrawing at all in the near future. In fact, there have been leaks about an agreement being done between the Bahraini regime and the Saudi regime. They will stay as long as they want and might even have military bases. So there are no signs they are going to withdraw. We want them to withdraw as soon as possible for Bahraini people because their presence is causing terror and fear among the Bahraini citizens.

Imagine living in a small country like Bahrain and traveling just for a mile and going through several checkpoints. People are humiliated and treated badly in these checkpoints, and are asked where do they come from and what they are doing, whether they are Shia or Sunni and have demonstrated or not.

These are silly questions and hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated in the Pearl Roundabout. So, are they going to detain hundreds of thousands of people? We demand them to withdraw as soon as possible.

In the long term, it would be a burden to the Bahraini regime than a help. This way is not for the long term benefit of the people or the Bahraini regime.

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