Bahraini dictatorship’s African sportspeople, propaganda props


This video is called Bahrain: mercenaries shooting tear gas inside a home in Aali – 27/5/2012.

English translation from As-Safir (Lebanon):

Outsourcing Its Security, Gulf Shows Fear of Public

By: Abd-al-Hadi Khalaf

posted on Thursday, Sep 13, 2012

On Jan. 4, 2007, Bahraini runner Mushir Salem Jawhar won a marathon in Israel, thus becoming the first athlete from an Arab country to participate in an Israeli sports tournament. The Bahrainis were not happy to see one of their nationals raising their country‘s flag in the Tiberias Sports Stadium. [The incident] was met with a wave of condemnation.

As a result, the Bahraini Athletics Federation removed Jawhar’s name from the federation’s lists, and the authorities decided to confiscate his passport and strip him of his Bahraini [citizenship]. The poor guy returned to Kenya, his country of origin, and to his real name, Leonard Moshiromaina, by which he was known in sports stadiums before he was brought to Bahrain as part of a campaign that aims to naturalize foreign athletes.

The “scandal” of the Kenyan/Bahraini runner did not put an end to the policy of athlete naturalization in Bahrain or other Gulf Arab states. Apart from requiring new naturalized athletes to not participate in sports competitions in Israel, Bahrain has not stopped the naturalization of athletes.

As we have seen in the London Olympics recently, 10 out of 13 male and female participants representing Bahrain were Kenyans and Ethiopians. To Bahraini sports officials, these athletes are the fastest and probably the cheapest way to raise the country’s flag in international arenas. As long as it is possible to obtain athletes from Africa and Asia, Bahraini officials will find no reason to provide the necessary infrastructure, services and training plans to prepare local athletes.

Bahraini officials perhaps also found it to be a prudent approach to rely on foreign athletes when they saw most Bahraini football players and other Bahraini athletes take part in the protests that swept the country at the height of the Pearl Roundabout uprising.

Athlete naturalization is offset by a more prevalent and dangerous [phenomenon] in the social fabric and political future of the Gulf countries: security naturalization. This is represented by granting Gulf citizenship to foreigners after they are recruiting into the armed forces, security services and police.

Traditionally, by virtue of relations that had developed during the era of the British protectorate, Pakistan and the Punjab region of India were the main exporters of security personnel to the Gulf countries, except Saudi Arabia. However, in recent years Yemen has had a growing role as an exporter of the human resources needed for the expansion of the armed forces and security services in all countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Although security personnel are brought from several countries, each Gulf regime has its own preferences. In Bahrain, for example, Pakistanis — Pashtuns and Balochis — constitute the majority of security and police personnel. The Bahrain Defense Force relies on Yemenis and Syrians, while the National Guard relies on Moroccans and Pakistanis from Punjab.

The justification routinely given by the government regarding the naturalization of security personnel is the small population base. But this justification is not convincing if closely scrutinized, especially in the case of Bahrain, which suffers from chronic unemployment among young people. Yet the government imposes a strict ban on recruiting Shiite citizens in the armed forces and security services.

The security obsession in Bahrain explains part of the behavior of the [Al-Khalifa] ruling family, which considers the country as booty it acquired by the sword. Despite the passage of more than two centuries since the “conquest” [of Bahrain], the authorities are still acting as conquerors who fear that the people may turn against them. Therefore, the Al-Khalifa family believes that in order to retain its financial, social and political privileges, it must rely on foreign recruits and maintain the barrier it has built between it and the majority of the people.

It is not enough to point to the security mania and fear of the majority of the population to explain the prevalence of the same phenomenon in the remaining GCC countries. The ruling families in these countries act out of conviction that they own these countries — as exclusive and private properties — have the sole right to handle their affairs and are solely responsible for their security and protection.

This conviction is reflected in the practices witnessed in countries throughout the region — since the establishment of the administrative bodies necessary for regulating the export of oil seven decades ago — which made the chieftains of powerful tribes governors of states, but prevented their subjects from becoming citizens.

As the financial resources and political capacities of the ruling families increased since the oil boom in the 1970s, so did their efforts to keep their subjects as mere subjects, who receive [royal] donations but have no right to take part in decisions made by the ruling families, not to mention holding them accountable. Thus, we find that all the ruling families in the Gulf tighten their direct control on the financial resources, as well as the security and military capabilities, of their countries. In this context, security naturalization plays a key role in enabling the ruling families to do so without relying on their subjects.

The effectiveness of naturalized security personnel beyond the task of domestic repression has not yet been tested. No major military conflicts requiring the intervention of forces composed of foreign recruits have yet taken place in the Gulf region. Thus, the future security of the Gulf region remains uncertain.

There is no plausible reason why it should not be assumed that naturalized security personnel may [one day] take unexpected actions, as a naturalized athlete did five years ago by carrying the Bahraini flag in a sports stadium in Israel.

Bahrain: Grave concerns about teacher unionists in detention: here.

2 thoughts on “Bahraini dictatorship’s African sportspeople, propaganda props

  1. UN faults 16 gov’ts for reprisals against critics

    By JOHN HEILPRIN, Associated Press – 2 hours ago

    GENEVA (AP) — The United Nations has singled out 16 nations for cracking down on critics, saying most of those countries’ governments are going unpunished for their acts of reprisal.

    U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told a special session of the Human Rights Council that the 16 nations detailed in a new report “have been far from sufficient” in preventing members of their own governments from resorting to intimidation and attacks on various activists.

    “Reprisals and intimidation against individuals continue to be reported,” she told the 47-nation council. “People may be threatened or harassed by government officials, including through public statements by high-level authorities. Associations and NGOs may see their activities monitored or restricted. Smear campaigns against those who cooperate with the U.N. may be organized. Threats may be made via phone calls, text messages or even direct contacts. People may also be arrested, beaten or tortured and even killed.”

    Pillay said there also has been a “lack of accountability in relation to the majority of reported cases of reprisals.”

    The report to the Geneva-based council for its session this month details alleged cases of killings, beatings, torture, arrests, threats, harassment and smear campaigns against human rights defenders, some arising out of backlash from the Arab Spring last year. The report covers mid-June 2011 to mid-July 2012 and cites cases in Algeria, Bahrain, Belarus, China, Colombia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Lebanon, Malawi, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Uzbekistan and Venezuela.

    A Colombian man who reportedly witnessed the execution of several civilians said, for example, that he was subjected to death threats and beatings after reporting it to U.N. officials, and then was threatened on a street in Baranquilla in May a day after he met with a UN official.

    “What were you doing with the U.N. woman yesterday?” the man said he was asked.

    One activist, Mohammed Al-Maskati, told the council Thursday that as president of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights he had “received more than a dozen anonymous phone calls threatening my life and the safety of my family” during the previous three days because he tweeted that he would be attending the council session.

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  2. Bahrain jails bodybuilding champion, other sportsmen

    DUBAI | Sun Dec 4, 2011 3:44pm IST

    (Reuters) – A military court in Bahrain has sentenced three sportsmen to one year in prison for taking part in pro-democracy protests that the Gulf Arab state crushed earlier this year, a lawyer said.

    The three, all members of Bahrain’s majority Shi’ite community, are bodybuilder Tareq al-Fursani, a gold medallist in several Asian championships, Ali Said, a goalkeeper in the national soccer team, and Mohammed Hassan al-Dirazi, a member of the national basketball team, said lawyer Mohsen al-Alawi, who was in court when the verdicts were read on Sunday.

    The men, who are not in detention and can appeal against their convictions, were tried in a military court because they are employees of the Bahrain Defence Forces. They were found guilty of illegal congregation, inciting hatred for the system, and not obeying orders regarding involvement in politics.

    Inspired by revolts in Tunisia and Egypt, thousands of Bahrainis took to the streets in February and March to demand an end to control of the government by the al Khalifa family.

    The government, which hosts the U.S. Fifth Fleet, said the protests were driven by Shi’ite sectarian motives and fomented by Shi’ite power Iran. Iran denied involvement.

    The government cracked down on the protests by imposing martial law for nearly three months, sacking some 2,000 people from government jobs, detaining some 3,000 people and ordering military trials for several hundred. Alawi said 64 athletes are among those put on trial.

    King Hamad has moved the trials to civilian courts and promised to implement the recommendations of a fact-finding commission headed by international rights lawyers who said detainees had suffered systematic abuse during the crackdown.

    The commission found that there was no official policy to abuse protesters, but that five people had been tortured to death and other detainees had suffered electric shocks and beatings with rubber hoses and wires.

    (Writing by Andrew Hammond; Editing by Tim Pearce)

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