In an interview with Khamenei.ir, former Bahraini Member of Parliament Mr. Jawad Fairooz says that the Bahraini regime’s move to strip Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim from his citizenship will no question lead to his forcible deportation.
“If the government will try to detain the opposition key figures just like they already did with Sheikh Ali Salman and now the nationality stripping of Sheikh Isa Qassim and the attempt to deport him, I don’t think that the people will remain patient and continue their peaceful struggle. Anything might happen and if it does the blame falls on the shoulders of the regime like a diversion in the peaceful protests into violent resistance by the people,” Fairooz told Khamenei.ir in an interview conducted by Marwa Osman, freelance journalist based in Beirut.
Former Bahraini Member of Parliament Mr. Jawad Fairooz himself was stripped from his Bahraini nationality back in 2013. Mr. Fairroz had also spent 3 months in prison, where he was subjected to a horrific program of torture. In 2010 Mr. Fairooz was the elected Member of Parliament for Bahrain’s Northern Governorate, District 8. Now he resides in the United Kingdom.
The following is a transcript of the recorded interview with Mr. Jawad Fairooz exclusively for the Khamenei.ir.
Khamenei.ir: Let us begin with the latest development in Bahrain where the Bahraini regime on Monday June 20 stripped Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim from citizenship in a clear escalation against Shia clerics in Bahrain. Can this move be considered a preliminary one to detain Sheikh Isa Qassim? And if so where does that put the peaceful protests in Bahrain?
Jawad Fairooz: The actions taken by the Bahraini regime against Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim are definitely alerting and very dangerous and it crossed the red lines. No one was expecting that instead of finding political solutions or opening channels for dialogue with the Bahraini people, this regime is instead continuing to attack and dared to strike at Sheikh Isa Qassim with lies and false accusations which lead to them stripping him from his nationality. This move will no question lead to his forcible deportation. It is not a surprise that they found Sheikh Isa Qassim remained strong and steadfast siding with the people’s demands as he always has been. Sheikh Qassim will never compromise the people’s basic demands and I think the regime has already reached a point of realization that the opposition in general will never agree on any side issue before finding solutions for the righteous demands of the Bahraini public by reaching the right way to reach serious reform leading to a true democratic state. We think this approach by the government is very dangerous but the people of Bahrain showed strong reaction by gathering in front of Sheikh Isa Qassim’s house as we speak in Daraz although the area is being blocked by the police who are preventing people from reaching the house using wire barricades which makes the conditions worrying and at high tension right now.
Khamenei.ir: The latest move by the Al Khalifah regime against Sheikh Qassim came less than a week after the Bahraini Justice Ministry suspended all activities of al-Wefaq National Islamic Society which is the main opposition group in the country. The regime is clearly crushing the will of the people in Bahrain, however what choices do the Bahrainis have besides peaceful protests?
Jawad Fairooz: At the beginning let us make it clear that protesting is the only way to demand the people’s rights. The Bahraini people are demanding their rights be met through peaceful struggle which is costing them a high price but they are willing to give more for it. They have already given their best since mid-February 2011 onward. We think that in the end the regime cannot continue in this way by crushing its citizens and cracking down on them using a strong fist by detaining everyone, deporting them and stripping them off their nationalities and continuously violating human rights. However, we believe the people’s resistance is the key element here. People will obviously not leave the streets. They will continue with their demonstrations but using violence against the government is not a choice at the moment according to the leaders of the opposition lie Sheikh Ali Salman, Al Wefaq party and the rest of the opposition leaders and above them Sheikh Isa Qassim himself who on so many occasions insisted on the peaceful struggle. But if the government will try to detain the opposition key figures just like they already did with Sheikh Ali Salman and now the nationality stripping of Sheikh Isa Qassim and the attempt to deport him, I don’t think that the people will remain patient and continue their peaceful struggle. Anything might happen and if it does, the blame falls on the shoulders of the regime like a diversion in the peaceful protests into violent resistance by the people. Civil disobedience is one choice but we cannot guarantee what other options and tactics different opposition groups will follow to face this type of severe prosecution and severe human rights violations by taking their basic rights. I think no nation would accept to live under such slavery which Al Khalifa wants the public to live under.
Khamenei.ir: Al Khalifah regime has been engaged in a harsh crackdown on dissent and widespread discrimination against the country's Shia majority since mid-February 2011. Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of others injured or arrested in the island state. Where is the UN and the international community from all this?
Jawad Fairooz: Unfortunately the positions and reaction are not based on the morals and ethics, it is rather based on the mutual interest, petrodollar and how they [international community] can expand their influence inside of Bahrain. There is a lot of hypocritical diplomacy going in concerning Bahrain. Although many nations like the US, UK and European states that are fighting to build democratic systems within their own countries and yet they back and support dictatorships like the Al Khalifa regime and the Al Saud monarchy. The international community in general issued good statements but they should shift and divert the content of their statements into real actions. There are many international bodies like human rights councils and NGOs that are upset because their recommendations are not being implemented inside of Bahrain but the mechanism they have is weak and they don’t have the power to impose their recommendations. The impose should come from the Unites Nations and from the superpowers that control the UN so we think that if there is going to be a serious will then it should be directed towards the UK and the US because they consider themselves partners of the Bahraini regime. They keep saying that they want to enforce reforms but what we see is that they are enforcing the dictatorship and the human rights violations more than the reform.
Khamenei.ir: The US has the Naval Support Activity Bahrain (or NSA Bahrain) which is a United States Navy base, situated in Bahrain and is home to U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and United States Fifth Fleet. Having such a power inside your country, don’t the Americans have the power to impose reform on the Al Khalifa monarchy?
Jawad Fairooz: We have noticed some sort of a diversion between the positions of the American administration and the pentagon. The pentagon wants to strengthen their military existence in the Persian Gulf region and they want to have better cooperation with this dictatorship regime as long as they are providing them with military bases and helping them expand it. However, the American administration, Obama’s government, they are calling for more room for democracy. There is a dispute between these two institutions but we are at the moment in a critical history of the United States because of the upcoming presidential elections are underway so the government inside the US is currently preoccupied with internal issues.
Khamenei.ir: Saudi Arabia's senior council of religious leaders welcomed the actions taken by the Bahraini regime. It is no secret that Saudi Arabia had also led Persian Gulf troops on to the island to back the government’s brutal put-down of the peaceful protests. How do you anticipate the authoritarian regime’s move in the KSA will be in the event of wider scale demonstrations against the ruling Al Khalfa monarchy in Bahrain?
Jawad Fairooz: Saudi troops entered Bahrain exactly on March 14, 2011 and on that date Bahrain lost their independence and their sovereignty over their land and from then on no governmental decision has been taken neither in Al Rafa or in Manama rather the decisions are being made in Riyadh and implemented by the Bahraini regime inside of Bahrain. I am not talking here about the Bahraini foreign policy but also the internal policy. I don’t think that this escalation towards more sectarianism and crackdown is only a Bahraini decision, it is also a Saudi decision backed by the UAE as well. These countries are deeply involved inside of Bahrain. They are deeply on the ground and it is safe to say that Bahrain is actually under the occupation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They are not only financially controlling Bahrain, they are doing so military wise, security wise and policy wise and so on. The Al Khalifa family has given the full decision to the Saudis since the beginning of the uprising in Bahrain where the Saudi have the final say in everything. In the end I think this process will not work since the Saudi foreign policy in the region is obviously failing. Look what is happening in Iraq and Syria and now what is happening in Yemen as well where they did not meet any of their goals from the war they are waging against the people of Yemen. I think the same thing is happening in Bahrain where the people of Bahrain will get their demands met by defeating the Bahraini regime.
Khamenei.ir: Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has condemned the Al Khalifa decision as “a Saudi plot,” saying it will fuel the flames of “Bahrain’s Islamic Revolution” against the ruling family. Is that an open letter sent by the IRGC that they will no longer sit there and watch the Bahraini people suffer? If so how will the oppressed Bahrainis receive this letter?
Jawad Fairooz: At the beginning let me be clear that in Bahrain we prefer to solve our own problems without any interference from any outside power, but unfortunately this chance has been lost because of the Al Kahlifa regime. They had many chances to solve this and they threw them away. When the crowned prince of Bahrain launched an initiative to start a dialogue, he was hastily ordered to end the initiative. Later on they appointed an independent committee to make inquiries where good recommendation resulted from these independent committees, but unfortunately these recommendations known as the BICI (Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry) recommendations report were not implemented and now they are targeting the highest scholar of Shia followers in Bahrain in addition to all the human rights violations it is very obvious that they are giving the chance for foreign countries and forces to try to protect Bahrain from all these violations. As we discussed earlier, I highly doubt that the people of Bahrain will keep their patience much longer when they see that their honorable leaders are being detained, stripped off their nationalities and possibly deported out of their country they will just stand there and watch, on the contrary they will find a way to end this unjustified prosecution and oppression So in the end we do not prefer any intervention from any outside forces but it is the regime to be blamed for preparing the grounds in the first place for foreign intervention whether in support of the Bahraini people or against them.
Khamenei.ir: Ending off our interview with Sheikh Isa Qassim, ironically Sheikh Qassim in 1973 was in the constituent assembly that drafted the Bahraini constitution and now he is being stripped off his nationality for simply demanding civil rights and liberties; now as a former member of Parliament Mr. Jawad Fairooz, I am sure you have friends inside the Bahraini parliament who are not Shias, what do they tell you about the situation within the government? Do they support such oppressive decisions or are they not allowed to voice their discontent with it?
Jawad Fairooz: Let me first say that the roots of Sheikh Isa Qassim are deeper in Bahrain and go back farther than all of the Al Khalifa family. None of the ancestors of Al Khalifa are actually buried inside of Bahrain before 240 years back contrary to Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim whose great grand fathers are buried inside of Bahrain. The Bahrainis know very well who came from Zubara and Qatar to Bahrain 240 years ago and unlawfully claimed the rule inside of Bahrain. However, there are so many elites and activists in Bahrain who are very upset with the decisions and actions of the Al Khalifa monarchy but they are fully aware that anyone who voices discontent with the Bahraini regime or criticizes the ruling family will face detention and prosecution and end up in jail. It is enough to write a tweet or an article or give a speech you will simply end up in jail with the charges already set, they will either accuse you of being connected to some foreign countries or planning to overthrow the government or spreading hatred. All these accusations are always ready and enough to silent anyone, that is why many people are a little cautious to give out an open opinion in support of Sheikh Isa Qassim and the opposition movement. However, we know that if a little bit of freedom is given to the people we will see not only the majority but almost 80% of the people will take to the streets to protest the current oppressive Bahraini regime.