and the Ambassador of Bahrain in Washington

The Ruling Regime in Bahrain Stabilizes itself as a Model for “Sectarian apartheid and Systematic Discrimination"

The Bahraini Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa

10 June 2010

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights is deeply concerned and disturbed by the fraud, distortion and stimulating hatred campaign led by the ruling regime abroad, especially in the United States of America. This campaign is led by the Bahraini embassy in Washington, and Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, the Bahraini Crown Prince, participated in the campaign which aimed at distorting and scorning the Shiite sect and its beliefs, accusing this vital segment and main component of the Bahraini community with ignorance and backwardness and loyalty to the outside.

In a reception celebration held by Bahrain's embassy in Washington in honour of one of the Arab-American organizations[1] in the U.S. on June 4, 2010, a group of Bahraini's residing in the U.S and some supporters of the human rights cases in Bahrain protested [2] outside the embassy [3] at the invitation of one of the American societies [4] in protest against the Bahraini Authorities policy in: sectarian discrimination, political naturalization, changing the social fabric, the continue of torture in the Bahraini prisons, and the policy of creating a sectarian split among the Sunni and Shiite citizens. This demonstration led many of the participants in the embassy's celebration to question the truth about the claim and demands of these protestors especially that the guests of the celebration belong to an institute that operates against discrimination in the United States.

The Protest Rally outside the Bahraini Embassy in Washington

Due to the confusion resulting from those protests and the embassy's guests questioning what is taking place outside, the Bahrain ambassador in Washington Mrs. Huda Azra Nono cancelled her speech which she was supposed to deliver in the celebration, and was replaced with a leaflet of two page[5] distributed among the participants containing the Bahraini embassy's responses to the claims of the protestors outside the embassy. One of the embassy's employees, Khalid Al-Jalahma, distributed the leaflet among the participants in the celebration. What is disturbing and concerning is what was contained in the leaflet, and which included many fallacies and serious falsification of facts and deliberated distort of the image of the people of Bahrain, and especially the Shiite sect.

Copy of the two page leaflet - click to enlarge

Among the fallacies put forward by the offending leaflet:

1. In an indication and denial of the fact that Shiite are the majority of the population in Bahrain, the leaflet mentions that there is no official numbers of the sects of Bahrain population– (this piece of information contradicts what the leaflet later narrates about the size of Shiites in the various ministries).

2. The majority of representative members in the 2 houses are Shiite (the fact is that the Shiite are not a majority [6] in the mentioned council, although they are appointed according to their loyalty to the ruling regime).

3. The majority in the Ministry of Interior are Shiite, and they are a majority in several government ministries, among them the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education (while the BCHR statistical report notes a decline in the number of Shiites in senior State posts to 13%, and this percentage is declining in the dominating ministries to less than 2%, as is the case in the Ministry of Interior[7]).

4. The citizenship provided to Shiite exceeds that provided to Sunni’s (the reality is that the Authorities granted the earned citizenship – according to the Bahraini citizenship law and according to the requirements of international human rights law – to several hundreds of Shiite families who have been deprived of the citizenship, but on the other hand it took advantage of the exceptional power granted to the King to naturalize tens of thousands of non-Shiite foreigners in order to change the sectarian demography of the country for political purposes and interests).

5. The sect is not a factor when considering scholarships; however, competency is. and the majority of these scholarships are awarded to Shiites. (This is completely inconsistent with reality, and which is the deprivation of the Shiite sect of the equal right in obtaining scholarships, especially in the significant majors and Western countries, the government even lately attempted at choosing the scholarships of the American and European embassies with sectarian standard [8] ).

6. Some of the Shiite groups in Bahrain have ties to Iran – as the international community stand on one side against the policy of the Iranian regime, these groups try to hide this link and tie themselves with Iraqis (and these are false accusations, which the government could not present any evidence of, and the government itself maintains close diplomatic ties with the Iranian government).

7. The leaflet, in an indication to the Bahraini Shiite villagers, questions dealing with burned tires on a highway or burned down a school (they should have searched for the reasons behind the continuous and escalating protests in these villages and the methods of dealing with them within the framework of human rights and social justice.

8. The reasons for the low level of living [9] and poverty [10] in the Bahraini villages is due to the large size of their families, consisting of 12 individuals which results from lack of social awareness and early marriages and marrying more than one wife, and some religious belief in the necessity of increasing the size of the family, which is the reason behind them getting unskilled jobs (the average rate of the Bahraini families rarely exceeds five people, and the statistical report of the BCHR proves that the percentage of those outstanding students in the Bahraini schools and universities corresponds with their percentage of the total population).

9. The cost of university education in Bahrain is less than $300 per year, and there is no homelessness in Bahrain (this cost is in the University of Bahrain, which only absorbs a small proportion of graduates, while the cost of private universities are very high and is more than ten times this amount, and the low and middle waged cannot meet those costs. Government statistics themselves indicate that there are 60 thousand families waiting for housing loans for periods exceeding 18 years).

The participants while leaving the embassy carrying in their hands the (anti-Shia) leaflet

The BCHR is sorry for this narration that is misleading to reality and truth, and for this provocative sectarian approach against the country's population of the Shiite sect, and the outspoken advocacy of hatred and degrading their dignity, and beliefs in this campaign led by Bahrain's embassy in Washington, which is supposed to have a national representation of all Bahrainis with their various sects or ethnic origins, and it is the embassy that has no single employee of Shiite origins. The BCHR believes that this campaign is an escape of the questioning and sources of concern raised by the international organizations regarding the deteriorating human rights condition, and systematic sectarian discrimination in Bahrain.

What increases the degree of seriousness and gravity of this campaign is the contribution of the Bahraini Crown Prince, who is the second man ranking at the top of the pyramid system of the government, and he is Sheikh Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, and his adoption of the same inciting approach especially in his last visit to the U.S. on 20 May 2010, which is the visit that followed the hearing session held on 27 April 2010 in the U.S. Congress in regards to the human rights conditions in Bahrain, where he met the American vice-president [11] and the Defense Secretary [12] and the security adviser to the U.S. president. He also met a group of members of Congress who sponsored or participated in the "hearing session" which discussed the torture file in Bahrain [13] and especially the report Torture Redux [14] released by the Human Rights Watch, and they are the members who urged the U.S. government to take advantage of its special relations with the government of Bahrain to offer it advice in order to improve the human rights conditions. The message of the Crown Prince and the accompanying delegation to those members is to suggest that the "Shiite yearn to gain control of the governance in Bahrain and that having them reach governance is dangerous to the U.S. interests in the area, and the fall of Bahrain which is considered the gateway to the rest of the Arabian Gulf is the fall of the Gulf in the hands of Iran, where the Shiite's loyalty is to Iran and not to their countries". The same messages has been brought to some of the Western countries, or its embassies in Bahrain and the area, as well as the other Gulf countries, in order to justify the continuous protests of people in Bahrain, due to the wrong policies of the regime, especially after his Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa came to the throne. This organized campaign to distort the image of Shiite and to make them look as traitors, and tie them to Iran expresses the deterioration and the level of bad relationship between the ruling institution and the country's population.

The president of the BCHR, Nabeel Rajab, commented on these developments, "It is a shame that the relation between the ruling regime and the people of this country reach this level of deterioration, it is clear to the entire population of Bahrain of the Shiite sect that the ruling regime is targeting them and is working on isolating them on all cultural, social, educational, economic and living levels, and in addition to that seeks to distort their reputation abroad. What is surprising is that at a time when the ruling regime is committing these sectarian and racist practices, we find it questioning the lack of trust and loyalty of its citizens towards it", Rajab added, "it is known that the loyalty and respect towards ruling regimes is not granted for free, yet it should be combined with granting the people their rights and respecting their human dignity, which is the thing that is missing here".

The Bahraini authorities pursue a discriminatory policy and isolation against the people of the Shiite sect in improving its image to the outside world. It signed a deal with the U.S. lobby group known as (Patton Boggs) which specializes in the field of pressure and public relations in order to improve its image in the U.S [15], especially after its name appeared as a violator of human rights in many international reports, and that its policy has been found to be based on isolating, spreading ignorance and impoverishing the citizens, especially the Shiite sect.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights finds the following:

1. To immediately stop the campaign of distorting the reputation, led by the authority and with the participation of the Crown Prince of Bahrain, and the Bahraini embassy in Washington against the Shiite sect.

2. To stop doubting the loyalty of the original citizens of the country, and to stop casting the name of Iran in the internal political disputes.

3. To have a neutral, impartial and transparent investigation in the reality behind the existence of organized policies practiced by the ruling regime against the people of the country who belong to the Shiite sect, among that what was mentioned in the reports of the national and international human rights organizations in this regards, and what was stated in the report of the former government adviser Dr. Salah Al-Bandar.

4. To launch a program to amend the damages that happened to individuals, groups and areas that were subjected to the policy of discrimination and marginalization on all levels due to their sectarian belonging.

Sources:

[1]The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) [2]Video of the protest events [3] Photos of the protest outside the embassy [4] Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain [5] First page of the leaflet and Second page pf the leaflet [6]Shiites accounts for two thirds of Bahrain's population, but they are represented by 17 out of 40 MPs due to the unfair distribution of electoral districts, and in the appointed Council they are represented by 19 members out of 40 which is equal to 48% Check BCHR report on Human Rights in Bahrain 2008 [7] BCHR report which was presented in the American congress seminar on the Religious Freedoms in Bahrain [8] In BCHR 2008 report on discrimination it was mentioned that Shiite students accounts for about 70% of best grades students in Bahrain schools [9] Al-Jazeera video report o poverty in Bahrain, May 2010 [10] CNN video report on poverty in Bahrain [11] BNA news article of the meeting with the American Vice President [12] BNA news article of the meeting with the Defense Secretary [13] Summary of the seminar on torture in Bahrain [14] HRW Torture Redux Report [15] Bahraini authorities conclude a contract with American pressure groups to avoid condemnation for its policies of the sectarian discrimination