The following is excerpted from part one of a two part Skype interview/conversation between the London based Iraqi blogger and democracy activist Moezx and two Bahraini democracy activists whose identities must be concealed as they are presently evading arrest by the Bahrain security forces acting under the state of martial law.
The interview is conducted on behalf of Human Solidarity, Justice for Bahrain and Rawlinsview Blog. The full text is available on request as are references. The names and specific location of the interviewees must be kept confidential in order to protect their safety.
Excerpts from the second part will be published here tomorrow.
The men agreed to be interviewed by Moezx. I am giving them the names Malcolm and Walter.
The text below is excerpted from the interview conducted April 6, 2011.
Moezx: Have you got any photos of the protests
Malcolm: I have so many pictures its not even funny, everyday i used to go Maidan (Pearl Roundabout)I was taking a lot of pictures. I even have pictures of the political prisoners they released that night and you will see they’re all children
Malcolm: Yea they are all kids, they were called political prisoners, i mean that’s just ridiculous.
Moezx: How many of them were there?
Malcolm: They only released 200
Moezx: Only 200? 200 is a lot, are there more of them in prison?
Malcolm: Oh my god yea, Up until today they arrested 458 people
Moezx: i have got the list from Nabeel Rajab [from the Bahrain Center for Human Rights], But are there more that we don’t know of?
Malcolm: Yes there are but they’re missing. No body knows where they are. There were a lot of incidents that happened in the last few days, One of my (deleted) friends was going to work two days ago in the morning, she’s 19 or 20 years old. They stopped her at a checkpoint and they grabbed her out of the car, they beat her, they ripped the hijab of her head, they made her get down on the floor and wipe their shoes with her hijab [Muslim head scarf]
Moezx: We have heard of sexual assults on women by the security forces. We have seen a video on an australian news channel [SBS Dateline] showing this woman, a wife of a detainee… [http://www.sbs.com.au/dateline/story/watch/id/601061/n/Bahrain-s-Dark-Secret]
Malcolm: Yes Zahra …(names deleted)… this is true
Malcolm: …Normally the way the procedure goes is that they look at you, When your going to these checkpoints they are wearing masks, the only thing you can see is their eyes, and they have guns in their hands. They’ll come up to the car with the gun, they’ll hit the window to bring the window down, and they’ll just look at you. If they get suspicious that you are Shia, they’ll ask you to talk, they’ll ask where you from and where your going? They will also ask are you Shia or are you Sunni? And depending on what they feel on the answer then they pretty much do what ever they want with you
Moezx: We actually seen some footage, am sure you have too, where people are taken out of the car and beaten up, really roughed up before they are taken away in the police cars, there was one video that showed 3 young men being beaten to the ground..
Malcolm: Yes we actually saw that this morning
Moezx: Does this happen often?
Malcolm: Yes it happens often at checkpoints but more so it happens in the middle of the night when nobody can see anything. Basically what they do is they just barge into the house, they take the men, they beat them, Its a routine now. They break in, they beat you and they blind fold the family so they don’t see who it is. Then they take you out of the house put you in a jeep and take you away and you won’t know where.
Moezx: This all happens in the early hours of the morning?
Malcolm: No this happens, starting at 10:30 or 11 oclock at night all the way to 3:30 sometimes 4 in the morning. Last night in Manama They desecrated and destroyed 18, ma’atams [Ma’atams are Shia ceremonial gathering houses][There have been many reports surfacing of the willful destruction of things and places of symbolic significance to the Bahraini Shia on the part of the al-Kalifa monarchy’s security forces]
Moezx: Really? 18? i heard it was 5.
Moezx: Do you know their names?
Malcolm: I can give you a few of them, Ma’atam Qassab, Ma’atam bin zabir, Ma’atam Madan, Ma’atam ajmal kabeer, Ma’atam wali al asir…
The interview is interrupted by humor regarding the propagandistic and possibly fabricated nature of news reporting on Bahrain TV and Another man “Walter” joins the conversation.
Walter: When the first crackdown started, on the 17th, the protests were still fresh. It was only three days so the whole country sympathised. The crown prince of the country actually had the dialogue initiative. He came on TV and asked for dialogue between both sides, and the thing is that the day before the second crackdown happened, He had actually accepted all the conditions that the protesters had (set for the discussion) he said “there’s no limits, we can discuss everything”, and the opposition agreed to the dialogue.
But what happened instead, is they released what we call baltagia (Thugs)[Vigilantees], So these thugs who came out, they didnt just attack the Shia areas, they attacked the sunni areas also so the Sunnies would think that these are Shia thugs attacking their villages and the Shia would think that these are Sunni thugs attacking their villages. (It was) Just to create sort of chaos and havoc in the whole region and play the sectarian card so the dialogue initiative failed. The next day they brought in the army because obviously people were then scared there’s thugs running around in their neighbourhoods even in the Sunni side, and they are shooting at people and hitting people with bats sticks and whatever. And these thugs these are all military personnel dressed as thugs. The protesters actually caught a few of them, and I am sure you must have seen pictures of their ID cards.
Moezx: I think i have seen one or 2 of them but if you could clarify that would be great.
Walter: Yea basically these guys have ministry of interior cards, they have military cards and obviiously their personal Bahraini ID cards. Everyone has a normal ID card, CPI which we call it, But ministry of interior cards are only for these Military personnel.
Moezx: Its very similar to what we saw in Egypt when these beltagia came out and they started attacking people. They claimed to be either on this side or that side but when they were cought they had police badges on them.
Walter: Yea exactly the same situation, except they played it smarter, and they actually went and attacked the sunnies and the shia. So they were trying to play people off against eachother. Create this chaos and make the people want to bring the army in. And that was the strategy they played and thats why the dialogue failed and thats why the army came in. But this was all pre planned.
Walter: Absolutely, we got numerous proof of this, obviously not mainstream stuff that we can talk about but we know 100% that these baltagia were cops.
The second excerpt will be published tomorrow.