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'Bahrain regime at war with own people'
Fri, 29 Apr 2011 07:45:51 GMT
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Bahraini authorities have sentenced four anti-government protesters to death after a military court found them guilty over the killing of two policemen in recent protests.

Press TV interviewed Dr. Hesham Tillawi, the host of Current Issues TV and Radio, regarding the death sentences and what lies ahead for anti-government protesters who have been since mid-February calling for an end to the al-Khalifa dynasty's 40-year rule.

The following is the rough transcription of the interview supported by other guests:

Press TV: How did you react when you heard about this news that four men have been given death sentences by a military court? How do you feel about these proceedings?

Tillawi: I don't really have any problem with the law taking its course in any country but I do have a problem when the authority and the government in that country considers itself at war with its people. Now if you are trying your people in a military court, you are looking at them as combatants and then we will faced with a question of legitimacy: is the government representing its people or is the government in foreign occupation? So I am very disturbed to hear that.

I don't have any problem with trying these four people in an open court where they will have access to due process of the law being present there but military court NO. I believe what we should be looking at in Bahrain and throughout the Arab world is that people don't realize that what is happening in Bahrain is not something new; it didn't start with Tunisia and it didn't start with Egypt. It started a long time ago; people have been struggling for their rights in Bahrain. I came to the US back in 1978 and I worked with Bahrain students and they have told us, as Palestinian students [have], and we understood their plight in Bahrain.

To tell you the truth, I am very disturbed by what is going on and people don't know that the struggle in Bahrain has been there for 30 or 40 years except that the media is not really covering what is going on in Bahrain like they did in Syria, Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia and throughout the Arab world.

Press TV: Obviously, in the range of things, this may seem unimportant to many people but it certainly does send a message at the very least that this man [ King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa] who many say is responsible for torture and human rights violations for many years in Bahrain is attending this royal weeding. Does it in a way send a message that the monarchy in the UK is standing by the Bahrain monarchy?

Tillawi: lets' not forget who put the Bahrain monarchy in its place. Really, his attending or not attending the royal wedding is not going to change very much on the ground and we should not be emphasizing on these little things that might seem of course a large things for many people but the British government isn't actually much better than the Bahrain government because we understand what the British government has done in Iraq and in other places and they are the are responsible for all these royal families throughout the [Persian] Gulf so they are not inviting the Bahraini government, they are very much inviting one of their agents

Sometimes we lose at the bigger picture when we start looking at these little things and if they didn't want Bahrainis to attend they would have told them to stay home or do something else but we really should be looking at the larger picture of what is going on and we should not take Bahrain out of the formula of what is happening. If Bahrain had been on the other side around Syria or if it had been around Yemen or if it had been in Africa, I think we would have seen much better response to what is happening but Bahrain is part of the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council which is a protected territory, it is more like a reservation for the Arabs while the other part of the Arab world be sent into chaos.

Right now they just want the [Persian] Gulf area to be as stable as possible until such a time they are finished with the rest of the Arab world then they will be revisiting the area in the [Persian] Gulf. At this point the strategy is try to maintain the stability in the [Persian] Gulf area so that you can maintain stability in the oil market and just finished with the others and then come back and revisit.

Press TV: Does Bahrain, in your mind, stand apart from these other uprisings and revolutions considering the fact that the government has been using the issue of religion and sectarian divisions, etc as a propaganda weapon and it is being used a lot obviously. On Bahrain state TV a lot of things media have been said which many media worldwide would be unwilling to say or allowed to say on their channels. How do you feel about this factor and how destabilizing it can be for the region?

Tillawi: Of course this thing started back in 2003 when the US attacked Iraq and they have inflamed the sectarian hatred among Sunnis and Shias in Iraq, even though for hundreds of years Sunnis and Shias have lived with each other peacefully: they have intermarried... You cannot find a house in Iraq that doesn't have Sunnis and Shias in the same family but now we see Sunnis and Shias are the problem and it was inflamed by the Zionists and the US. What we are witnessing in Bahrain unfortunately, if this thing would have taken place, let's say before 2003, we would probably see people being more sympathetic with the people of Bahrain. The majority in Bahrain is Shia; I don't know the figures are 70, 75 or 80 percent Shia. Now with what took place in Iraq it has affected the way people look at Bahrain. I am Sunni but unfortunately what I see in Bahrain is that the people in Bahrain are paying the price of the hatred that was inflamed by the US and by Israel.

But let's not forget that is exactly what they said they would do. We are back in the 1970s, they have written this, they said they would send this area into chaos. The Shias problem is not the only one there are many factors that they said they would use: ethnicity and religion or religious affiliations. They have taken every country and they analyzed it: how many Christians, how many Muslims, are they these Muslims Sunnis or Shias? Are they Wahabbis or whatever? They are working on these differences, even though for hundreds of years they have lived together. I want to live in relative peace and respect.

Where is Aljazeera? Why isn't Aljazeera in Bahrain? Why isn't Al Arabiya in Bahrain? Why are they only listening to CNN and FOX. These channels are exactly in the same place where these people are. That is the bigger question: what kind of game is being played on the Arab people and what the end game is going to be. These revolutions are supposed to have a particular aim. Unfortunately, none of these revolutions has a particular aim, I might add probably except the one in Bahrain which has a huge aim.

Unfortunately in Bahrain, if they had started this [revolution] just 2 years ago, it would have had a much bigger impact, if only they would have come out a couple of years ago or even a year ago before Tunisians and Egyptians. But let's remember it has been there for many years but the media actually didn't concentrate on it. And where is the US to worry about civilians in Bahrain if they are so concerned about civilians in Libya and Syria?

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