Press TV has conducted an interview with Colin Cavell, a former lecturer at University of Bahrain from West Virginia, to discuss the recent clashes between security forces in Bahrain and protesters angry with the regime’s revocation of the citizenship of top Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim.
A rough transcription of the interview appears below.
Press TV: Now we have more clashes in Bahrain and now it seems an escalation is in the making. Why do you think this rise in tensions is taking place after years of peaceful protests?
Cavell: The revocation of the citizenship of this prominent cleric in Bahrain, Sheikh Isa Qassim, has rippled across by Bahrain and across the Middle East because he’s well known as an advocate of peaceful resolution of problems. And by revoking his citizenship they are forcing him either into exile or as a pretense to put him in jail to get rid of him like they’ve got rid of all of the opposition leaders in Bahrain. And using this what people are referring to as the Egyptian strategy to clamp down on all opposition in Bahrain to put all opposition leaders in jail, to shut down all opposition political parties to prevent any type of freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of association, the king is acting illegally and against the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. And so the opposition now has to decide: are they going to allow all of their political rights to be taken away or they are going to change their peaceful strategy that they have adopted so far.
Press TV: It’s interesting you say that. Many have echoed your exact sentiment that Manama has been making a huge misstep by targeting these respected opposition leaders like Sheikh Ali Salman, like Sheikh Isa Qassim. Your thoughts on Al Khalifa regime going after this respected head of peaceful dissent and how this might actually lead to human rights and international governmental bodies being more vocal about the atrocities in Bahrain. Do you think this is the beginning of some kind of possible pressure in the form of sanctions on the Al Khalifa regime to bring about some kind of change finally or no?
Cavell: Well, you’re absolutely correct. Amnesty International and the European Union parliament have called for the release of Nabeel Rajab and a relaxation of the tensions in Bahrain. And last week, the State Department finally issued its report on Bahrain which had criticism of the regime. Now as usual, the hegemon – the United States – had muted criticism of the actions of the Al khalifa but just this past weekend, Vice President Biden called the king to talk with them about this harsh crackdown and they’re concerned that this may lead to extremist actions by the opposition. But Bahrain is taking a cue from General Sisi in Egypt who has put hundreds of journalists, lawyers, advocates of human rights in jail, sentenced many of them to death and the United States and the Western media have been absolutely silent about what is going on in Egypt. And so, Saudi Arabia which is funding both the crackdown in Egypt and also the crackdown in Bahrain has urged the Al Khalifa to do the same thing in Bahrain. Crack down and we’ll just see if the United States says anything about it and so far the United States has been absolutely silent. They are hypocritical to the extent that they are violating the basic principles of concern for democracy and human rights.