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Al Khalifah must recognize people’s right to protest: Pundit


Press TV has conducted an interview with Nabil Mikhail, a lecturer at George Washington University, to further discuss human rights violations by the Al Khalifah regime in Bahrain.

Here is a rough transcription of the interview:

Press TV: The majority of Bahrainis are against the way the Al Khalifah family governs the country and when they hold these peaceful rallies to voice their dissent, they’d be shot, incarcerated, have their citizenship revoked, or disappear. Yet five years on [since the start of the popular uprising], protesters are still showing up practically every day to slam their marginalization. Your thoughts on their plight and the resolve they have shown over these years?

Mikhail: There is definitely a democracy deficit in Bahrain since this is a genuine and domestic protest and I will put emphasis on the word domestic. Everything in politics is domestic. So, these are the concerns of people and they feel that their conditions should improve and I would not bet on the fact that their conditions improve. So, I think they have the right to protest. Everything is protestable. They have the right to air their messages. They have the right to explain why they have grievings. They also have the right to question why they are not basically enjoying the basics of the administration of justice in terms of arrest, in terms of intimidation, in terms of the right to publish. So, I think their condition could be chronic unless a serious effort is being made to address their complaints and the things that you have submitted. I’m quite sure that their views are known. It is not something new. So, I call on the Bahraini authorities to listen to them, to treat them better, to see how they can be the citizens of the kingdom of Bahrain. If they are seeking fair treatment, they should get fair treatment.

Press TV: Many critics feel that had Manama not been allied with Western governments, perhaps Bahraini rulers would have been sanctioned long ago for the mistreatment of their own citizens. Do you agree with that?

Mikhail: This is to a large extent true. But what is new in the whole situation in the Middle East is that we’re seeing very serious violations of human rights. Syria is a real tragedy. Iraq of course. There is violence and there are serious misgivings about human rights. Yemen also is a case of serious violation of human rights.

So, actually that does not help the people of Bahrain, because basically there is now an equality of grievances. There is basically a common denominator sweeping over the Middle East that people want justice. In fact even the whole area of North Africa. I wonder what would happen in Algeria and Morocco and Tunisia and Libya and Mauritania. Because people there are also seeking justice and democracy.

Press TV: With regard to these 3 countries that you mentioned, all of them are going through some kind of conflict or internal struggle. But Bahrain is supposed to be [going through] a time of peace right now and there is no foreign force, no invasion. There is no excuse to marginalize these people for such a long time. I mean it’s just getting played out for way too long. Your thoughts on that?

Mikhail: It is like I say studying political science or peace does not mean tranquility. Peace is a value and is a virtue because it depends on how much you enjoy peace. So, the question, as I said earlier, [is] everything is domestic. There is a segment in the population of Bahrain who does not enjoy that peace.

So, the element of equilibrium in the society, tranquility in the relations among the people, is still lacking. There has to be a serious addressing of that problem void of any military option or violence. And as I said, the biggest right here in human rights is the right to complain. If anyone, whether in Bahrain or anywhere else, cannot complain, this is basically dehumanization of the individual who is the creature of God. So, you have to solve this problem. You have to realize that peace is only one element of the political body. But justice, fairness, equality, confidence, respect – all these values could be missing.

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