September 28, 2011

BBC: Khalil Marzooq & Samira Rajab

Transcript translated by me into English: 
"Elections meant to reflect the power's efforts to carry on what it calls "the reform choice" , but it seems that it opened a door of complexity that adds to the current crisis. We will discuss this in detail  following this report.

Elections aimed to confirm that things have returned to normality in Bahrain but it has opened a wide door for controversy. The race was to fill 18 parliamentary seats abandoned by the resignation of Alwefaq society's representatives, the biggest anti-government movements, who resigned in protest against what they considered to be oppression of the protest movement tha thte country has been witnessing since the middle of March, 2011. The percentage of participation in these elections, as stated by the Minister of Justice, to have reached 51%, when the opposition who has boycutted the elections assumes fabrications of the percentage.

Abduljalil Khalil, president of the resigned Alwefaq parliamentary body: After the scandal that occured yesterday, the day of elections, there has been a correction and rectifying by the Radio and TV Broadcasting 
that the Minister of Justice did not mean that the 51 percentage is of the participation yesterday but that this percentage is meant to be of the current parliament with its 22 representatives with the 18 electoral constituency which means that the percentage of participation yesterday does not exceed 10%.

On another note, Rueters has reported from government resources that participation has reached 17% only. The dispute regarding the participation in these elections reflects the bitterness of the conflict between a government  that wants to promotes its reform project pertaining wide popularity and and opposition that wants to unveil a systems that, it views, has lost legitimacy. Regardless that Alwefaq claims that that it still seeks dialogue as a means, there are who seeks other more radical means.

Saeed Alshebi: We do not call for participation nor do we acknowledge these elections not this system. We call fall overthrowing the regime as is the people of Bahrain for years as this is not a new matter.

Bahrain has endured very hard month ever since protests broke out, demonstrations, protests, killed and murdered, emergencies and gulf militaries, confrontations, considerable civil silence, then elections. And breaths are held anticipating what the next station hides for this small kingdom." Asadallah Alsawi, BBC.

For more with us today in the studio the writer, journalist and Shura member Mrs. Sameera Rajab and Khalil Marzooq the former deputy chairman of Representative Council in Bahrain.

I will start with you Mrs. Rajab. Elections but with variation in the numbers or percentages of those who casted their votes today which range between 17% and 51% as stared by the government agencies. The 51% was measured according to 18 constituencies, the number of eligible votes in 18 constituencies. More impractically it is not 18 but 14 constituencies after 4 have won by acclamation. And what is said about the 17% , this is a discussion that takes place concerning the entire electoral bloc generally in the country which is 144,000 elector.

Interviewer: What is the size or representation that this 17.5 percentage reflects?

Mrs. Rajab: I do not know the measurement nor on what basis this number was established. They talk.. Interviewer:

Interviewer: This number is from Bahrain's website

Mrs. Rajab: It is Alwefaq society. There is no website. It comes with numbers and percentages as it wishes and publishes these news and the media like BBC and others take this figure and it is circulated.

Interviewer: This is why I am inquiring from you.

Mrs. Rajab: The correct and official figure that was mentioned by the official resources is that there is an election bloc for 14 constituencies of which participated 51.2% and not of the entire election bloc of the whole country of Bahrain. this is the figure.

Interviewer: Regardless these numbers Khalila Marzooq, if we directly address the core of the issue, some considers holdign these elections is extends the dialogue to return to the democratic parliamentary life through the parliament and that those elected will replace and fill he seats of those who resigned from the Representatives Council.

Mr. Marzooq: Pythagoras and tal-Khwarizm, I think, have established the basics of mathmatics and if we assume that 14 constituencies have 144,000  electors approximately, and those who voted cumalatively are 25,000 electors only then it is obvious that 25,000 over 144,000 does nto equal 51%. This is cumilitively. Those who won, with 11,000 in the first places, does not approch 17%. Unless that you and I and who si with is today in the studio need to go for a lesson in mathmatics again this is another topic.

Interviewer: What are the implications of that to those who entered the parliament?

Mr. Marzooq: These numbers is the legitimacy that this current representation in the parliament. What the minister of Justice has attempted to do by mentioning the 51% is to state that there is legitemacy with 51%. Normally, the election process is legitimate past 51%. When there is no legitimacy and statign the 71% then the legitimacy does not exist. We say since we resigned with the absence of 46% of the participating mass, it has lost its legitimacy. Today, it is confirmed, as you mentioned in the report, that there is a real crisis for the government. No legitimacy for this representation, no  legitimacy for these decisions. The steps that the regime will follow is the last political cards and there will fall one after the other and the regime will not remain without any real reform.

Interviewer: I will take a response from Mrs. Rajab. It seems that Bahrain is heading towards another crisis. A crisis has ended a lot of people or at least some hope were hoping to be resolved through the complementary elections. Now you are facing a new dilemma.

Mrs. Rajab: It is a real dilemma when a country is trying to follow the path of democracy and create a democratic opposition so that this opposition rises to become a violent constant rejection. Opposition in any democratic system, or democratic transition, requires that it is part of this transformation to move into working in a democratic manner. There aren't any demands that are accomplished by force. If we agree on reform then we are are approaching reform. But when a segment comes and emphasizes its demands forcefully then this is an absolute violation to the rights of a society. This is the essential dilemma that we are discussing. If the opposition wants to control this society within visions based on religious leadership within a liberal society that wants to be Islamic with this modern and civil culture, this will not be accomplished especially in Bahrain. Then, this is the dilemma that we suffer today. The opposition walks within its own vision outside the visions of the society generally. There is a rejection in the society for a huge attitude that the opposition entertains. Today, a huge mass of people went out today to attend the elections to express this rejection.

Interviewer: From some of what the opposition called for is the boycott of the elections which isolates it from the other segments of the society in Bahrain. The opposition must take part in this game one way or the other, why is the persistence of this boycott and the questioning in any reform step and these elections?

Mr. Marzooq: Well the opposition is violent because it enlisted the Peninsula Defense Forces, jailed women, 45 women were arrested today, held military trials, we jailed, tortured and arrested. This is all done by the opposition. But the calls in the streets and the peaceful protests this is all by the government and its followers. We state that there is a struggle between democratic concepts known by all the world; an elected government, a parliament with its complete power, just constituencies, independent judiciary, these are the demands of the opposition and the movement of the opposition is a voice not a tanker or bullets. The Tunisian people, the Egyptian people, the Yemeni people did not rise through the parliament and Iran did not intervene.

The Interviewer interrupts several times but this is the jest of his wordings: And Iran did not intervene in the progress of these revolutions? It is said that Iran intervened. This scares a segment of the people in Bahrain.

Mr. Marzooq: How did Iran intervene in Bahrain? What are the evidences? Who claims that Iran has intervened, I say bring me the evidence. There is no Irani presence in reality unless in the imagination of those who attempt to identify this movement to be secterian or supported by Iran. What has Iran to do with an elected government? Why does some insist that the Prime Minister remains for forty years? And what has Iran to do with supporting that the prime minister should be elected and not last forty years?

Interviewer: I will return to you in the last point concerning the solution out of this crisis. You wanted to comments Mrs. Sameera?

Mrs. Rajab: Yes, I will give you the latest proof which was released as a statement of those who work in the streets and practice violence in the streets. A long statement calling of following AlKhamenei revolution and what it has achieved.

Interviewer: Isn't this just a part of the opposition and not the whole opposition?

Mrs. Rajab: This is what happens in the streets. This is who holds the mark of violence and riot in the streets. And those who entered the malls yesterday and terrified the people and attempted to disrupt traffic in the business area. It was supposed that before showing the elections report that you show these acts of violence that occurred on 23 and 24 of September synchronized with the elections to terrify people.

Interviewer: We are noe facing a new reality in Bahrain that is there is this new group of representative that will join the parliament in Bahrain. Khalil Marzooq what is next?

Mr. Marzooq: These people do not represent the Bahraini people with the current constituencies and the government ten years ago had 98.4% of the people from these exact constituencies who voted for the National Action Charter. Today, 17% from the same constituencies.  Today you ask me what is the solution, the real solution, which she claims to be AlKhamenei revolutions, I tell you it is an elected government. Is she willing to say that we go as a Bahraini people to the solution of an elected government, a parliament with its complete power without having to share that power with the appointed council, and a just judiciary, these are the demands of Bahrain. When she critisizes that statement, let us agree on these principles. Who contends and states that there are demands, mandate of the Faqih, Iran and so on. There are international concepts for democracy, come and let's agree on them. You state that you are a majority of the people, then let us go to an establishing council that can form a constitution. Then you state otherwise and that you are a majority and fear us but then revoke that and state that the majority does not want these demands. How is it at the time of our demands you state that you fear you and you abduct the country when we tell you let's go to an establishment committee and a referendum, you refuse it.

Interviewer: You raised several point. Khalil Marzooq, you have a perspective. Mrs. Sameera Rajab, everyone acknowledges what Khalil Marzooq has states and maybe many find a good arguement.

Mrs. Rajab: Yes, there are those who call for democracy which is recognized as "real" democracy to them, Westminster democracy that is. They call for Westminster democracy or the French democracy or the Belgium democracy.

Interviewer: You mean it took centuries.

Mrs. Rajab: This is the word of the Secretary General of Alwefaq society only two days ago. He demands the democracy of Westminster when her resides as an opposition leader under the guardianship of religious leader. He is controlled by a religious leader and wants a Westminster democracy. This is dangerous. How do we give our society and country to this type of democracy. It is called Westminster democracy but practices the role of pre-democracy.

Mr. Marzooq interrupts: We want to know what democracy she wants.

Mrs. Rajab: The Belgium democracy that was mentioned in the Secretary General punishes those who boycott the elections within the law. There are sanctions for those who boycott the elections within the law. Bahrain is following the process of democracy.

Mr. Marzooq interrupts: Whose democracy?

Mrs. Rajab: The democracy of Bahrain with principles, separation of powers, freedom of speech with the highest levels, just judiciary, just constituencies which will be fixed and improved based on the demographic changes in Bahrain through honest elections. These are the democratic methods.

Interviewer: A very slow democratic method according to many.

Mrs. Rajab: Why is it slow? What is slow about it? With what criteria is it slow?

Interviewer: There is a changing situation Mrs. Sameera Rajab in the Arab world, upheavals as we saw in Egypt and what is happening in Syria and Yemen.

Mrs. Rajab: We are not Saudi Arabia nor Egypt. The Bahraini society is an open society since before the transformation of democracy. Democracy is progressing in good steps in Bahrain. We cannot skip these steps. There are demands called for by the opposition in the National Dialogue that will enter in constitutional amendments that will take place in the next parliament.

The interviewer: This is a picture of democracy that should be built on, isn't that right

Mr. Marzooq: A young open-minded and aware youth and doesn't deserve an elected government. An open-minded and aware people and doesn't deserve an appointed government for decades. This is the democracy that she talks about and this is the democracy of Bahrain. There is a clear concept of democracy, pluralism and peaceful transfer of power. If you don't achieve that then we do not have a democracy.

Thank you Khalil Marzooq the former deputy chairman of Representative Council in Bahrain and Mrs. Sameera Rajab writer, journalist and Shura member in Bahrain.

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A powerful interview, if you ask me, and definitely a must-watch one!

The arguments raised by Mrs. Rajab are inconsistent as it is the case for most pro-government debates over the legitemacy of the protests and the simmering uprising, especially when it comes to the general realities, not only the details.

I do not follow Alwefaq society as I personally and politically have reservations but throughout the time of the struggle they have had some reasonable and national demands that, to me, avoided the focus of the society which is recognized to be a Shiite religious institute. On the other hand, I even more strongly have reservations over a Shura Council member who claims that this Bahraini system is a good one seeking the good of the people when this council itself is the epidomy of Absolute Monarchy which if wasn't for the royal family would turn into a dictatorship some day.

The Bahraini system form of democracy is based on the form rather than the function. Yes, we have the obvious elements of democracy but that only because this guards the country against international organizations, the United Nations in specific, and keeps the system as it is. Mrs. Rajab has pointed out several realities which I highlited above "separation of powers, freedom of speech with the highest levels, just judiciary, just constituencies" are not of effect solely because they are not implemented. The powers are separated so we have the Executive, Legislative an Judiciary branches which all go back to the main branch of power, King Haman Alkhalifa; he has the ultimate power in the Executive branch, he appoints all judges in the Judiciary and he appoints half of the Legislative as Mrs. Rajab is a living example of people who owe allegiance and loyalty to the king as he blessed them with this source of income that tasks them to only implement the orders of the king rather than argue. And let's not get in the debate over the weak parliament as the representative simply meet to discuss rather than pass laws and approve legislation which can always be revoked with the Shura standing int he way, the restricting mechanisms and the appointed Head of both councils. Freedom of speech is not existent as of 2011, I need not prove this. The Judiciary system is not just at all and the trials that are ongoing prove that, as have the experiences of both myself and those I have known who have suffered the simplest deprivations of simple rights acknowledges by Sharia Law in Bahrain. Constituencies and tampered with rather than improved and the more political naturalization we have, the more flawed of a system it is as the government is manipulating the demographic composition of the country.
Mrs. Rajab goes on stating that these "will be fixed and improved based on the demographic changes in Bahrain through honest elections." No, they will not. Not with the current system of government, not with this regime and not under this constitution. This has been the case since 1975 when the firs parliament was dissolved by our current king's father because it jeopardized his interests and as the parliament has started to get great support. This has been the case since people were threatened, prosecuted and exiled in the 1970s  and the pardoned in 2001 and now again prosecuted in 2011. This will not change with Alkhalifa being in such constant refusal of real reform rather than cosmetic change.

There is so much to debate in this but I will be addressing more issues next week. But in this I wanted to reject the view that Mrs. Rajab attempted to sell her story. But please remember that the opposition is not ONLY Alwefaq society, it is no predominantly Shiite, I am an opposition member and I am by your standards Sunni, opposition is not created by the government as you stated above, and a liberal society cannot be Islamic if Bahrain really wants to embrace its diversity as we have minorities that will suffer tomorrow what the government has established as a system in the country. And please do not refer to the street so generally unless you have participated in calling for your demands on the streets as well.

Lesson of this piece: If you want to learn, abandon your beliefs and read all the news you can find everywhere and not only Bahrain TV as we know where its loyalties lie along with the local newspapers. My saying this is not based on the events this year, they go back to Albandar report in 2006 written by Dr. Salah Albandar, former adviser to the Cabinet Affairs ministry who was then exiled from the country as newspapers in Bahrain were prohibited from wiring about.

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