Bahrain’s special security tribunal handling the appeals of 21 opposition leaders convicted of ‘plotting against the state’ has adjourned the hearing until September.Meanwhile, Bahrain’s regime says it is going to launch reconciliation talks with the opposition but most opposition leaders have rejected to join the talks.
We have interviewed Dr. Saeed al-Shehabi, from the Bahrain Freedom Movement, to ask for his insight into the latest developments regarding Bahrain.
Q: Bahrain’s ruler has said he would set up an independent committee to investigate the bloody crackdown during anti-regime protests. He could have done it before the opposition leaders were sentenced to life in prison. Is it too late too little?
Shehabi: I think the formation of this committee is self-defeating because how you can look into the crimes of the person who has appointed you. I think the main person who is accused of these atrocities, who is in charge of all these crimes, the torture, extra-judicial killings, the destruction of the mosques is the dictator, the ruler himself, so how he can be at the helm of this committee and how he can form it and then ask them to determine whether he is a criminal or a good man.
So, I think it is really a joke and mockery of justice, especially in the fact that our friends who are in prison, the leadership of the revolution, are languishing in jail. So how can you have reconciliation when you are still torturing people? Only last week, these 21 people who were imprisoned after the court, immediately after they were sentenced to life imprisonment, they were severely tortured, one of them was thrown on the ground, kicked in the face and in the mouth, he was bleeding everywhere. That happened immediately after the sentence had been passed. What sort of reconciliation are we talking about?
Q: The speech came ahead of the monarch’s appeal for a national dialogue on Saturday. With most of the opposition leaders behind bars, is the King’s announcement enough to launch the talks?
Shehabi: Well, he doesn’t want to talk to anyone. He has refused to talk to people. We have to understand that the essence of the problem is between the al-Khalifa and the people. The people don’t want the al-Khalifa. They have been telling repeatedly over the past four months that they don’t want this regime, it has to go. He [Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa] is at the center of the problem.
For him to come and say that I am not going to talk to you, I will send one of my servants to speak to you, this is what he has done, he has appointed one of his to oversee a public meeting, it is not a dialogue, how can you have a dialogue with three hundred people around you? Several political parties are represented by five people each, so 35 out of 300, 10 percent of them are from the opposition, 90 percent of them are the agents of the regimes. So what sort of order is that?
Interview with Saeed al-Shehabi, Bahrain Freedom Movement, London