Al-Eker: City under siege? Al-Wefaq issued a statement calling for the world to intervene to “save the lives of Bahrainis in Al-Eker”, a town which they said was subject to “official systematic terrorism”, “collective punishment” and “besieged from all-sides”. Citizens for Bahrain visited Al-Eker to discover the truth….
22nd Oct, 2012 –
The main routes into the Al-Eker area are off the Sheikh Jabir Highway. The Al-Eker stretch of highway is one of the most prestigious parts of Manama, with Lamborghini garages, expensive showrooms and glistening shop fronts.
When we arrived on Monday 22 October, at the height of the “siege” each of the entrances to Al-Eker had a police presence, but they did little more than nod and smile at us as we swept past. The main Al-Eker shopping street seemed relatively quiet, but nothing out of the ordinary. The vast majority of shops are Shia businesses and around three-quarters of them were open; although we were told that some shop keepers had stayed away on the instruction that things shouldn’t be “business as usual”.
“Schools were open as normal and people were going about their business.”
By far the largest industry in Al-Eker is the cement factory, part of the AMA business empire of the Shia magnate Ahmed Mansoor al-Aali. AMA’s lorries make several hundred journeys per day and indeed nothing was slowing them down. The same was the case for various other major businesses that we visited, like a metals plant, a water pumping and purifying plant and horticultural areas – all going about their work unimpeded. Employees seemed relaxed, friendly and not particularly curious about why we were nosing around.
The remarkable thing was how quiet the area was. The time was midday and most of the men had left for work, schools were open as normal and people were going about their business.
In the Shia parts of town most people were rather tight-lipped about political developments. However, in the predominantly Sunni west of Al-Eker, people were at pains to note that life was going on as normal and anyone who was recognized as being a local was allowed to go in or out of the town as they pleased.
“It was difficult to match the reality we found with the apocalyptical descriptions of ‘besieged Al-Eker’”
The far side of Al-Eker is coastline, so as we sat watching flocks of long-legged flamingoes paddling about in the shallows and shoals of young fish just beneath the surface being eyed by a number of heron; it was difficult to match the reality we found with the apocalyptical descriptions of “besieged Al-Eker” being peddled by Al-Wefaq.
This is a small area of a few hundred people where everybody knows everybody. Respected Sunni and Shia figures frequently meet to diffuse tensions and ensure the mutual wellbeing of the people in the area; and the local troublemakers – including the youths going out night after night to throw firebombs and scribble graffiti – are well known.
We drove past the dusty open area where policeman Imran Ahmed Mohammed lost his life in a bomb attack a few days before and it looked like nothing had ever happened there. We were aware that Al-Wefaq had threatened to lead thousands of people to the area to “liberate Al-Eker” so we took our opportunity and left – leaving a somewhat tense and watchful, but nevertheless sleepy and eerily quiet town behind us. We passed once again the Lamborghini showrooms with several people inside ogling the merchandise; apparently blissfully ignorant that they were yards away from a major political flashpoint.
Al-Wefaq’s lies concerning the murder of a policeman
As the family of Imran Ahmed Mohammed mourn the death of the third policeman in their family in under two years; instead of condemning this bomb attack against the police, Al-Wefaq and their Iranian cheerleaders are busy exploiting Imran’s death to score cheap propaganda points. Al-Wefaq issued a statement calling on organizations around the world to engage in “swift action to save the lives of Bahrainis in Al-Eker”, the village where Imran was killed and claiming that “Al-Eker is subjected to an official systematic terrorism”.
If you visited Al-Eker over recent days or live in Al-Eker, an area of both Sunni and Shia communities; you’ll find that there are police check-points. However, although people may be asked to show their CPR cards, they are allowed to move in or out freely. The attack was videoed so police know very well who they are looking for. This was the third explosive device used in this locality in recent days, so understandably police want to locate the source of these devices and prevent their removal; and the removal of evidence, from the area.
Let’s look at Al-Wefaq’s lies one by one from its hysterical and ridiculous statement regarding the situation in Al-Eker:
“Al-Eker is subjected to an official systematic terrorism” – Protecting the general public from bomb attacks is called counterterrorism. Al-Wefaq are confusing the perpetrator and the victim.
“Forces are implementing a collective punishment policy against Al-Eker.” – Residents who have nothing to hide will understand that if they don’t want their area to be used for storing or manufacturing bombs – which could explode at any time and cause substantial loss of life – the police need to be allowed to do their jobs. Sunnis and Shia alike have been subject to checks, but as much as possible ordinary life is continuing as normal.
“Al-Eker area is completely besieged from all sides. No one is allowed to enter or go out… Residents in Al-Eker have been banned from going to work.” – Residents report that they have been going to work as normal and school busses arrived to take children to school.
“Regime forces prevented the people from going to the mosques.” – People are free to come and go if they show their CPR card. Al-Wefaq shouldn’t be trying to imply that there is some form of religious discrimination or oppression at play.
“People can’t have bread, drinks or food from outside. The cleaning services are stopped.” – Although there may be checks, all necessary goods are allowed to enter. Regarding cleaning services, we would be very sorry to hear if Al-Wefaq officials had been put to any inconvenience because cleaning staff, servants or providers of other exclusive services had difficulty reaching their luxury villas.
“Seven citizens have been arbitrarily arrested and the number is increasing” – There is nothing arbitrary about this. Al-Eker is a tiny area and those who are carrying out the attacks are well known. Although the youths who regularly throw Molotovs and ambush the police are all familiar to the police, it is important to identify those who are behind these youngsters, inciting violence and providing them with more deadly and sophisticated materials.
“Civilian cars hired for the regime forces are attempting to run over any person tries to walk out of his/her houses.” – Come on, be serious!
“Many have been tortured and severely beaten.” – Presumably such serious allegations will be backed up with evidence?
“Many women are reported to have fainted and collapsed. Three of them are elderly who fainted during their homes were barbarically raided [sic]”. – Al-Wefaq talks about torture and then the most serious examples they can cite are a couple of women having a rush of blood to the head!
“Home raids are arbitrary, vindictive and without a judicial warrant.” – Searches for bombs, bomb-making equipment, and those people identified as being responsible are carried out according to the rule of law and due process.
“The Ministry of Interior is not eligible to conduct any investigation.” – This is where Al-Wefaq loses all touch with its claims to support reform though political means. Here Al-Wefaq is refusing to recognize the legitimacy of the Bahraini authorities, like more militant elements which called for forcible removal of the Monarchy and the establishment of an Islamic republic.
“The Ministry of Interior allegedly announced the murder of a policeman in an incident that the MOI broadcasted a controversial video about it.” – Far from condemning the killing of Imran Mohammed, Al-Wefaq is simultaneously trying to cast doubt on his killing, while trying to discredit the video which shows Imran being murdered by opposition terrorists.
Finally, why are Al-Wefaq using Iranian media outlets and news agencies to publicize their statements? Could Al-Wefaq please clarify the nature of its relationship with these entities and why it allowing itself to be used by Iranian bodies in this way to further a hostile Iranian agenda for Bahrain?
Citizens for Bahrain condemns fatal bomb attack against police
The 19 October bomb attack against Bahraini policemen that killed 19-year old Imran Ahmed Mohammed and caused serious injury to others, was a dangerous precedent for Bahrain. As is visible from video footage, the police officers were on routine patrol in Eker at 01.00 am when youths attacked them with Molotov Cocktails and an explosive device which was thrown directly at Imran Mohammed.
The discovery of Bomb Factories and quantities of homemade bombs in recent months shows that there are militants with the desire and the capability to resort to terrorist methods on a scale that Bahrain hasn’t previously seen. The British Government among others has been providing support to investigate the manufacture of sophisticated explosive materials in Bahrain, which we welcome in helping ensure that militant groups are unable to develop more advanced devices and put at risk the lives of Bahrainis, expatriate residents and visitors from abroad.
Our thoughts today are with the family of Imran Mohammed; particularly as Imran’s elder brother, also a policeman, was killed in a traffic incident this June; and Imran’s cousin Kashif Ahmed Mandhour, another policeman, was killed by anti-Government protesters who deliberately ran over him in a car at Pearl Roundabout last year. This single family has lost so much in the service of their country and Bahrain should not forget their sacrifice.