Bahrain regime detains United States journalist

From Mediaite in the USA:

NYT‘s Nicholas Kristof Detained At Bahrain Airport, Live-Tweets It

by Josh Feldman | 7:59 pm, December 17th, 2012

New York Times writer Nicholas Kristof flew into Bahrain today to do a report on government repression, but he was denied entry into the country and detained at the airport for a few hours. Kristof went on Twitter to complain about his detainment by going after the country’s human rights abuses and pointing out that reality show star Kim Kardashian was allowed passage into the country mere weeks ago. Kristof at one point suggested creating a Kardashian-style sex tape to gain entry to Bahrain.

RELATED: Report: CBS Radio Reporter Shot At In Bahrain

After arriving at the airport in Bahrain, Kristof was detained and tweeted out the following message:

Kristof Bahrain tweet

Kristof explained that Bahraini officials informed him he was on a government blacklist that prevented him from entering the country. He said the government isn’t letting him in the country because they do not want “witnesses to its nightly repression in Shia villages.”

But Kristof kept his little plight in perspective, pointing out in a number of tweets that Bahraini citizens are subject to worse punishments than getting held up at the airport. At one point, he remarked that people are “feeling way too sorry for me,” since he’s not being arrested or anything, he’s just stuck at the airport and tweeting from a Starbucks.

Kristof found it amusing that he was denied access to the country while Kim Kardashian was welcomed into Bahrain, tweeting this tongue-in-cheek message to his followers:

Kristof Bahraini tweet

And a few minutes ago, Kristof tweeted that he’s on the plane to be deported out of the country, apologizing for not being able to do his intended report on human rights abuses in Bahrain.

See also here.

Bahrain Feature: The Story of Taqi Abdulla, a US Citizen Detained by the Regime: here.

Protesters Arrested after Rocky Weekend in Bahrain: here. And here.

Bahrain: Child held without charge in adult prison: here.

Meanwhile, United States extreme Rightist Pamela Geller declares her support for the Bahraini dictatorship. No, I am not going to link to her site, which also considers French anti-Semite Brigitte Bardot to be an ally of its Islamophobia. Ms Geller depicts any United States secular Muslim who goes to a mosque once a year as a terrible terrorist danger. But she does not mind the Bahraini royal torturing dictatorship; propped up against its own people by the army of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the main source of really extreme Islam in the world. And propped up in its puppet parliament by salafists, the Sunni sectarian fifth column of the Saudi royals.

Bahrain dictatorship paying Kim Kardashian?

CNN media corporation in the USA and the armed forces in Britain seem to be not the only ones bribed by the absolute monarchy of Bahrain

This video from the USA says about itself:

Kim Kardashian Paid To Like Bahrain?

Dec 5, 2012 by TheYoungTurks

“If you follow Kim Kardashian on Twitter — or if you follow people who troll her relentlessly in the name of comedy, as I do — you know that she’s spent the past few days singing the praises of the Middle East, specifically the country of Bahrain, which she called “the prettiest place on Earth.”

Why the hell a) is Kim Kardashian in Bahrain and b) why the hell is she relentlessly extolling its virtues on Twitter? More than likely, Kardashian is being paid to do so by the brutal dictatorship there, because that’s what Kim Kardashian does, you see, and Bahrain’s ruler recently launched an ambitious worldwide PR campaign to try to enhance the country’s image. The evidence is circumstantial, obviously, but the dots are obvious enough for a fool to connect them.”

Is Kim Kardashian being paid to promote tourism in Bahrain, the place of a brutal uprising not too long ago? Did she accept money to promote a country run by a monarchal regime known for numerous human rights violations and deaths? Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian discuss the very real possibility that this is true.

Kim Kardashian’s Bahrain milkshake diplomacy leaves a bad taste: here.

Kim Kardashian: Guilty of Dictator PR: here.

Read more here.

Kim Kardashian, Bahrain torture, and cigarettes

This video is called Al-Khalifah’s Bahrain: shooting and torturing women and children.

By Sara Lepley in the USA:

December 4, 2012

Kardashian makes controversial visit to Bahrain

Kim Kardashian’s gushing tweets that all Americans should visit the Kingdom of Bahrain is akin to celebrities endorsing cigarettes.

Just as celebrities are not excused when promoting a cancer-causing product because they are unaware of the harmful effects of smoking, Kardashian’s ignorance cannot excuse her from promoting a country that teargases and tortures its own people.

Yet, during her recent visit to the country, she tweeted that she is “in love with the Kingdom of Bahrain,” despite news concerning the country’s crimes against humanity.

According to the Washington Post, Bahrain has ceaselessly sought “international approval and the appearance of normality.” The country has been under keen scrutiny for maliciously trespassing on basic human rights. Not only has the regime teargased any protestors calling for human rights and democracy, but it has also tortured doctors attempting to treat these victims. In fact, during Kardashian’s trip alone, fifty protestors whose signs simply read, “God is great” were teargased by the government.

Media reports describe these fifty protesters as orthodox (Sunni) Muslims. Hard-line ultra-pious Muslims, similar to the Saudi state religion, are a minority in Bahrain, often supporting the monarchy. However, the regime bans all protests, not only against its own dictatorial rule; or against the recent Gaza war; but also of fifty people exercising their right of free speech against Ms Kardashian’s choice of clothes.

Kardashian’s visit and clear approval allots Bahrain a refreshed image, portraying it as beautiful,

In Bahrain, birds, the human rights movement, and other things are beautiful. The torturing dictatorial government is not.

ignoring its violations against human rights. This not only counters international attempts to expose the true Bahrain, but also completely undermines the severe offenses against its people.

All is not lost, however. The media and the American government can use the coverage as a way to reestablish the atrocities and generate aid to the people of Bahrain.

If that would happen, then it would be an improvement indeed. But it would be against what the United States government has done so far: selling weapons to the Bahraini absolute monarchy. And against what much of the (corporate) media has done so far: taking hush money from the Bahraini regime.

Kim Kardashian, torture, teargas in Bahrain

From the Washington Post in the USA:

Why people are so upset about Kim Kardashian’s odd visit to Bahrain

Posted by Max Fisher on December 3, 2012 at 3:26 pm

A Bahraini man walks off after having his picture taken with TV star Kim Kardashian in Riffa, Bahrain. (Hasan Jamali/Associated Press)

About a month before Kim Kardashian flew to the Middle Eastern island nation of Bahrain this weekend, 28 of the country’s medics and doctors were assembled before a courtroom. They had been charged after treating some of the protesters who have been rallying now for over a year, calling for democracy and for improved human rights. An ear, nose, and throat specialist named Nabeel Tammam, one of the defendants, raised his hand. The judge had just dismissed a defense attorney’s claim that his clients had been tortured, and Tammam had something to say. “My name is Nabeel Tammam,” he said when the judge acknowledged him, apparently mistaking him for a lawyer. “I am one of the medics, and I was tortured.” The judge closed the hearing.

That vision of Bahrain, relayed by Human Rights First President Elisa Massimino in a recent op-ed in The Post, is very different than the version Kardashian showed the world. Her trip to open and generate publicity for a Millions of Milkshakes chain, and her gushing tweets (“I’m in love with The Kingdom of Bahrain”), drew wide mockery and criticism for the celebrity’s lack of awareness of or ambivalence toward Bahrain’s crisis.

So how bad was the trip really? The case against it is straightforward. As Foreign Policy’s Marc Lynch explains: Kardashian’s visit “generates positive publicity for a Bahraini regime which carried out an unspeakably brutal crackdown last year, continues a fierce campaign of repression and has been utterly unrepentant.” The monarchy has aggressively courted international approval and the appearance of normality, apparently as a means to downplay its crackdown, so Kardashian’s visit would seem to be a significant victory. She released this video of her visit, laden with dance beats and screaming fans. “Everyone from the States has to come and visit,” she urges:

Bahrain: Teachers face further jail time after ‘nightmare’ verdict: here.

Bahraini activists have not been as critical as have foreign Middle East-watchers and human rights advocates. Maryam Al-Khawaja, a prominent Bahraini activist sent into exile after her father was beaten and imprisoned, posted an open letter thanking Kardashian for her visit and encouraging her to meet with human rights leaders. “Given your fame, it is impossible for your trip to remain apolitical,” she wrote.

It turns out that Al-Khawaja was right. During Kardashian’s visit, about 50 protesters showed. They didn’t appear related to the political strife that has killed dozens of protesters and sent a number of activists to jail – the AP described them as “hardline Islamic,” and their only sign read “God is Great” – except that security forces, as has increasingly been their habit, dispersed them with teargas. What would have otherwise  been a minor sideshow became a reminder of the teargas and protests that have marked Bahrain, if under very different circumstances.

Americans, for whom Kardashian probably carries greater name recognition than the Bahraini nation, which is a close U.S. ally, couldn’t help but notice a quirky story about the scandal-prone reality TV star somehow involved in a Middle East teargassing. This ABC News report somewhat exacerbates the problem by treating the story as a silly celebrity gaffe rather than an issue of potentially abetting a regime that commits human rights abuses, but maybe the point here is that the words “Bahrain” and “teargas” made it into the news:

It would seem things have gotten so bad in Bahrain that even something as potentially regime-friendly as a big American celebrity’s high-profile visit and glowing praise can’t be covered without some mention, however passing, of the crisis. ABC News briefly flashes, without explanation, a tweet from Reza Aslan referencing the imprisonment and alleged torture of doctors who treat wounded protesters – doctors like Nabeel Tammam.

Maybe this incident suggests that Bahrain can only sweep its problems under the rug for so long. Lynch writes, “That protests and tear gas disrupted the international media coverage of [Kardashian’s] visit as well is therefore in some ways a promising sign that the reality of Bahrain’s ongoing repression and failure to deal honestly with its recent past has not yet been washed away.”

Brian Dooley, a Human Rights First director who has spent much of the last two years focusing on Bahrain, told me he thought the country’s public relations efforts might be starting to backfire. “I’m not sure the Kardashian visit really was a net gain for Bahrain’s government,” he said. “Much of the coverage simply refocused attention on the human rights crisis they’re trying to deny.”

Perhaps bringing a glimmer of international attention to Bahrain’s crisis, however unintentionally, is the best that the country’s besieged Shia majority could hope for. Wafa Alsayed, a Bahraini political analyst, joked on Twitter, “No offense, but asking Kim Kardashian 2 comment on the political situation in Bahrain is like asking a chipmunk 2 prepare a 3 course dinner.” Maybe she didn’t need to comment on the situation, or even be aware of it, after all.

Kim Kardashian and Bahrain human rights violations

One of the Bahraini children killed during a protest last year

Kim Kardashian in Santa Monica, California on May 13, 2009 at Maxim's 10th Annual Hot 100 Celebration

From the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights:

Bahrain: Open Letter to Mrs. Kim Kardashian

29th November 2012

Dear Ms. Kardashian,

My name is Maryam Alkhawaja, and I am writing in my capacity as the Acting President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) [our work has been recognized by a number of international human rights bodies over the last few years- see below]. I am pleased that you’ll be visiting Bahrain, and that you’re interested in using your celebrity to “raise awareness about important issues in the area”. It is admirable that you will take time to meet with local leaders during your busy trip. International human rights organizations have only faced difficulties in entering Bahrain, and since you have listed this as a priority, we’d like to extend an invitation to you to meet with local human rights defenders, who have been documenting Bahrain’s deplorable human rights violations since the unrest started two years ago.

The revolution in Bahrain began on 14 February 2011, and for the past two years the struggle for human rights and dignity has been faced with a violent crackdown. Although not everyone may have heard of the revolution, Bahrain is well known for its Grand Prix and the Bahrain International Air Show. This is because the government of Bahrain want you to believe that the country is merely the home of exciting business opportunities and a modern, new Middle East. No matter how they spin it, Bahrain has had at least 84 people killed since February 2011 and more than 80 children arrested in just the past several months. People have even been arrested for things they’ve said on Twitter. I don’t know about you, but I’d hardly call that modern.

If you are, as was reported, planning to meet with ‘local leaders’, we hope that you take time during your trip to learn about abuses that have largely been ignored by the international community. Given your fame, it is impossible for your trip to remain apolitical. This is because it will be used to demonstrate to the international community that everything in Bahrain is fine. We can assure you that unfortunately everything is not fine, and that your celebrity status is likely to be used in order to distract the global public from Bahrain’s human rights violations. We are delighted to hear you will be meeting local leaders, and the BCHR would be happy to help arrange those for you.

For more information on human rights abuses in Bahrain, please visit our website and our latest report. If you’re interested in arranging meetings, please let me know.

Best regards,

Maryam Al-Khawaja

Acting President – BCHR

BCHR and its staff have been the recipients of:

The Woodrow Wilson Award, Freedom House’s Freedom Award, the Baldwin Medal, the Martin Ennals Shortlist, the Stieg Larsson Prize, the Index on Censorship Award for Advocacy.

Bahrain: call for release of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and 12 other jailed activists: here.

From Education International:

Bahrain: Trade unionist released from prison (29 November 2012)

EI welcomed the release from prison of Jalila Al-Salman, the acting President of the Bahraini Teachers’ Association (BTA), on 25 November.
BTU President Mahdi Abu Dheeb

Her colleague, Mahdi Abu Dheeb, the BTA President, is nevertheless still serving five years in the Jaw prison.

Mahdi and Jalila were condemned, respectively, to 10 and three years in prison by a military court in September 2011. The verdict was upheld by the Manama Court on 21 October, but the sentences were reduced to five years and six months respectively.

Jalila had been unjustly detained on false charges, for simply exercising her right to freedom of assembly and demanding reforms in the educational system in Bahrain.

Rights violations

Many serious human and trade union rights issues remain to be tackled in Bahrain, and violations of basic trade union rights need to be addressed.

EI deeply regrets that Jalila’s time in prison occurred under difficult conditions.

In addition, Mahdi was denied medical treatment required by his doctor, as well as medical tools provided by his family following doctors’ orders. As a result, his back and knees are in a bad and worsening condition.

EI: Fight continues

“While EI cautiously welcomes Jalila’s release, it reminds us that we still have to fight hard for Mahdi to assume his rightful place as a leader of the Bahraini Teachers’ Association,” said EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen.

“While welcoming this important step forward, EI, on behalf of its member organisations around the world, once again calls on Bahraini authorities to immediately and unconditionally set Mahdi free,” he added.

This release is the result of international pressure exerted by EI and its affiliates worldwide, a clear signal that international solidarity is crucial to help Mahdi, unjustly detained, be released.

EI encourages its affiliates and concerned citizens to continue giving visibility to both appeals on the EI and Labour start websites.