(2) Judiciary and terrorism pretexts: every protest is a terrorist act

2014-06-28 - 1:00 ص

Yasser Khamdan, from Manama, was sentenced on 16 May 2013 to 10 years in prison. What is Khamdan's charge? The answer: Arson. What was the arson done by Khamdan? Yasser burnt a big water tank!!!

The case was adjusted to try Khamdan pursuant to the terrorism act instead of that of normal riots and demonstrations. How? This is what we will try to present in details in this part.

Demonstrations and Riots

,Article 178 of demonstrations and riot law stipulates that "Every person who takes part in a demonstration in a public place where at least five persons have assembled with the aim of committing crimes or acts intended to prepare or facilitate the commission of such a crime or aimed at undermining public security, even though for the realization of a legitimate objective, shall be liable for imprisonment for a period of no more than two years and a fine not exceeding BD200, or either penalty."

Moreover, article 179 of the same law stipulates that "If one demonstrator or several demonstrators attempt to use violence for the realization of a purpose for which they have assembled, their action shall be deemed as a riot. The penalty for each person who knowingly takes part in such riot shall be a prison sentence and a fine not exceeding BD500, or either penalty."

The beginning of adjusting

With the beginning of the trials of 2011 events, (most) of the cases in which the arrested protestors were tried for were classified as misdemeanor cases and dealt with according to the demonstrations and riots law: walking unlicensed marches, burning tires, blocking streets and using Molotov bombs. Protestors in Bahrain are convicted in general for to these types of cases. Due to the large number of these cases which showered the misdemeanor court, the Lower Courttrial cases increased from 6 courts before 2011 events to become 10 at the end of 2011.

The first case that was dealt with as a felony was when a group of youth from Manama dared to approach to a close distance from the Ministry of Interior's entrance, burnt tires and blocked the main street facing the Ministry on16 May 2012. The accused were sentenced to 3 years in prison. Then, the provision escalating for such type of protests continued, and they started adjusting the law to make the jurisdictions, which do not exceed the 2 years in prison according to the demonstrations and riots laws harsher. How did this adjusting take place?

Types of riots and protests

The unjustified suppression of the authority often leads the protestors to clashes with the security forces. In general, riot actions come from individuals who feel marginalized and excluded from the fair and equal participation in the economic, political and social life. These individuals feel that the government, its bodies and officials abuse them. "They feel annoyed for they cannot take major decisions that influence them and their society as well. Usually people of neglected iniquities unite and their feelings may blow at any time".
Riot is classified into 2 types: Purposive and Symbolic.

The Purposive type is related to the majority of riot actions in history. It happens due to opposing a regime, situation, or bad law and struggles for reforming or changing them. Thus, there is an intention or a goal the protestors are aiming at achieving or pressing for by the end of their movement.

As for the Symbolic type; it happens when individuals of the same group of people use violence to express their anger and dissatisfaction with a regime, situation, law or an incident. The situation is often related to their life, existence and recognition. The authority uses excessive force and a large number of its security forces to confront riots; which make the riots more violent.

These are the aims of the protests in general although sometimes they may develop to become riots and violent acts. In Bahrain we have both of the types; the purposive and the symbolic. The protests aim at pressing on the authority to reform the political situation which was decomposed by corruption, tyranny, individuality of political decisions, discrimination, marginalizing and tribalism (purposive riot). On the other hand we face forms of symbolic riots expressing the anger of the people for the deteriorating of the status quo and the intransigence of authority in not responding to any of the democratic and legitimate people's demands (symbolic riot).

Falsifying the objectives

What did the Bahraini authority do to change the natural character of the street daily protests and entitle them with the terrorist character? Briefly, it falsified the demands of the protests. How?

The authority polluted the protests through falsifying their demands. It attributed the demands of stopping violations and arrests, reforming the deteriorating political situation, bringing the corrupts to account, empowering people to participate in the political decisions and giving people the religious and political freedoms to other demands: terrorist demands.

The authority also matched each protest to a terrorist demand: "burning tires to intimidate and terrorize the citizens", "owning Molotov bombs to kill policemen". Moreover, the authority called the Molotov bombs used by protestors worldwide an exaggerated name such as "locally made bombs for terrorist use" and used another purpose related to people, like "endangering people's lives and properties", "assaulting personal freedoms of citizens and harming the national unity" and "suspending the law". In addition, it used terms considered weird for Bahrainis such as "bombed cars" to describe acts of unknown sources resembled in bombing cars in empty and open places with no injuries to mention. All similar cases were altered from misdemeanor to felonies under the terrorism act directly.

Lawsuit of the objectives

We will mention here a number of trials that happened in 2013 only and we will expose some of the public prosecution's statements to notice how the authority used the "aim" or "demand" goal to arrest the protestors and try them under the terrorism act instead of that of protests and riots.

On 22 March 16 citizens were sentenced to 15 years in prison. The authority claimed that these accused were convicted with the charge of "committing terrorist acts". However, the Northern Governorate's prosecution attorney said that these 16 citizens were convicted for "intending to kill a number of policemen during their job, burning a car which is owned by the Ministry of Interior, participating in a protest in a public place where more than five people assembled with an aim of undermining the public security, assaulting the policemen and obtaining flammable canisters".

On 2nd April the accused were sentenced to 15 years in prison and 9 others from BaniJamraregion were sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. The authority claimed that the convicted were charged for the intention to kill policemen and obtaining of bombs for terrorist uses and aims.
Two clergymen, Sayed Ahmed Al Majed and another, were sentenced to 15 years imprisonment on May 20. Moreover, 7 accused were also sentenced to 10 years. The authority claimed-charge was establishing a group with an intention to "suspend the law"!

On 3rd June, a verdict was issued against 3 Bahrainis. These 3 were sentenced to 5-10 years in prison. Their claimed charge was "the intention of killing an official officer during doing his job and obtaining flammable substances." Adding that, "these 3 along with unknown others also participated in assembling in a public place with an aim of undermining the public security. They used violence to achieve their goal they had assembled to achieve and had flammable materials which they aimed to use for putting the lives and properties of people to danger".

On 3 and 4 October citizens from Dair city were sentenced to life imprisonment for manufacturing a local bomb on 17 March the last, in Dair city, claimed the authority. Bahrain News Agency (BNA) quoted the secretariat of the Muhaaraq prosecution manager, Abdullah Al Dossari, "the accused aimed at and intended to target policemen and the inhabitants through preparing a metal tubed shaped locally-made bomb". The latter mentioned that the public prosecution charged the accused for "intending to kill the victim and policemen, bombing to intimidate the citizens and manufacturing and obtaining a bomb to commit a terrorist act".

On 23 October 6 citizens were sentenced to 10 years in prison. The authority claimed that they "intended to kill security men, burn a patrol car and assemble" next to Jidhafs and facing the Seef Bridge. The public prosecution announced that, "according to the statements, the incident resulted from an agreement between the suspects and other unknown people to attack police patrols localized near Jidhafs and facing the Seefbridge, aiming at killing police officers".

5 Bahrainis were sentenced to 15 years-to life imprisonment on 19 November for bombing a car in Riffa. Although the bomb happened to be in an empty area and did not cause any damage, as the authority claimed, the prosecution charged the suspected with a package of charges: establishing an illegal group with an aim to obstruct the law,preventing the state institutions from excising their jobs,assaulting the citizens' personal freedoms, endangering the national unity and intimidating the citizens for terrorist aims. The prosecution said that these 5 "intentionally used the bombs to put people's lives to danger, obtained bombs "the explosive" without a license from a competent authority for a terrorist aim and trained to use weapons and bombs to commit terrorist crimes".

The aforementioned cases are samples of 2013 provisions; however, we still face hundreds of similar cases daily. We noticed how the "aim", "goal", "target" or "objective" was the one to be falsified to change the protests to a terrorist crime in order to make the provisions issued against the protestors harsher. Implementing this edit, the authority believes it would put an end to the protests.

In the next part, how did "terrorism" become a title for all kinds of protests in Bahrain; including the opponents, protestors and opposition political associations that emphasize their peaceful choice?



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