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Al-Khawaja Reveals a Failed Deal for their Release

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Published as received - 

In the context of discussing the struggle of the African leader Nelson Mandela, and as an example of the double standards of some of those who celebrate him these days, the human rights activist AbdulhadiAl-Khawaja revealed the attempts of Bahraini diplomats and officials to urge him and his fellow prisoners to declare that they condemn violence as a means to be released, and as a contribution in solving the crisis in Bahrain.

This happened – according to Al-Khawaja – since the beginning of the current year 2013, where the same question was repeatedly conveyed by diplomats representing major Western countries whether he and the other prisoners with him were ready to condemn violence. This happened again directly by the EU Commissioner for Human Rights when he was visiting Al-Khawaja in prison 27 June 2013.

Al-Khawaja’s response was a definitive refusal to compromise their freedom in this manner, which the Authority aims to use as a means for holding them responsible for the crisis in the country, although it had tacitly accepted that it is the one that holds that responsibility after acknowledging the results of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) and which concluded that what took place in February 2011 was a result of the accumulation of injustices and violations, and the protestors raising their level of demands, and the polarization that took place after that is a result of the violence and suppression used by the Authority against those protests.

Al-Khawaja expressed in his response great astonishment that representatives of Western countries who carry slogans of justice and human rights would come forth with such a faulty and unjust proposition towards well-known human rights activists and politicians who have been subjected to arbitrary arrest, physical torture and unjust trials as part of the procedures carried out by the Authority to suppress public protests. This has been documented in details in the BICI report formed by the Authority itself. Reports and statements have also been released by the UN and other international organizations and American and European bodies that demand their release since they are prisoners of conscious and not advocates of violence and terrorism as the Authority claimed without any evidence.

Al-Khawaja informed those “mediators” that he speaks for himself only, however he does not think that any of the other political prisoners would accept such a malicious and unjust compromise on their freedom and demands, and in a manner that the Authority can use against them or against any escalating public movement.

He explained that if the Authority was serious in emitting the security congestion and preventing the outbreak of violence in the country, it would have taken serious measures that guarantee launching public liberties, suspending unjust laws, withdrawing the special security forces from areas of protests, stop the excessive use of force and besieging areas and raiding homes, and the arbitrary arrests and unjust trials, and releasing all prisoners and implementing the BICI and UN Human Rights Council recommendations through independent mechanisms that are accepted by all parties, especially the victims of violations and not through mechanisms and institutes that stem from the Executive, Legislative and Judicial Authority that are implicated in those violations. If serious action was taken towards this approach it will pave the way for a comprehensive treatment of the situation through real representatives of the people and its different segments who are elected freely and impartially.

Al-Khawaja noted in his speech about those “mediators”, that the embassy of Denmark has never mentioned such a compromise, although it is directly and continuously in contact with the Bahraini Authorities – as he holds a Danish citizenship – and that Denmark has carried out unremitting efforts in his case.

Mandela… who refused to renounce violence:

Despite the vast difference between the leaders of the imprisoned public movement in Bahrain – who adopted peaceful protest – and the African leader Nelson Mandela who established the military wing and adopted the strategy of sabotage and armed struggle, Mandela refused the entire period of his imprisonment to succumb to any pressures to renounce violence as a price for his freedom, and despite that, the entire world is celebrating him as a hero and freedom fighter. As follows are details of the aforementioned which were included in his memoir “Long Walk to Freedom”:

  • On 31 January 1985, the president of South Africa announced that Mandela and all the other political prisoners will be released if they declared condemning violence as a political tool… the president added that this proposition shows that what stands in the way of Mandela’s freedom is not the government, but he, himself (pg. 713).
  • On 10 February 1995, Mandela replied in a public speech read by his daughter, he said, “We resorted to armed struggled only when all means of other resistance was shut in our faces... the regime itself should renounce violence… and release all prisoners… and guarantee the freedom of political work where the people decide who governs them… I will not make any pledge at a time where you and I are not free…” (pg. 716)
  • In his meetings with the secret government committee during 1988, Mandela replied to the demands for him to renounce violence by saying that the state is responsible for the violence and that the unjust ruler is the one that imposes on those oppressed their method of struggle, if the ruler uses violence, the oppressed would have no other choice but to respond with violence. (pg. 737)
  • Mandela mentioned that the African National Congress had declared in its recent conferences the escalation of armed struggle until the government is ready to negotiate, and that the Congress is unwilling to negotiate until all leaders of the Congress are released. (pg. 739)
  • In the first press conference that was held after his release in February 1990, Mandela stated to the journalists that there is no conflict between his continuous support of armed struggle and the call for negotiations. Since the reality on ground and the pressure of armed struggle is what made the government approach the negotiations.

 

Note: the page numbers mentioned are from the English paperback edition published by Back Bay Books.

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