1240 GMT December 01, 2022
IRAN DAILY: Opposition groups to the ruling Al Khalifa dynasty did not participate in the parliamentary elections. Why do you think they boycotted the polls?
DAQQAQ: Elections are held in accordance with the Constitution. But the current Constitution is one-sided and only protects the king’s interests, which makes it illegitimate. Since the Constitution is invalid, this election is also invalid. Moreover, Al Khalifa has stripped some 100,000 people of the right to vote. Therefore, such a Parliament cannot represent Bahrainis and has no legitimacy. Parliament has become a tool to rubber-stamp laws pushed by the government. Such a Parliament is representative of the government, not the people.
Why has the government of Bahrain denied 100,000 people the right to vote?
The targeted people were members of opposition parties like Al-Wefaq, and since the government has dissolved all of them, it has also banned its members from voting.
Are those boycotting the vote only Shias and Al-Wefaq members or are there other groups involved as well?
The biggest boycotting community is the Shia, but the opposition is not limited to the Shia. For instance, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja is a Sunni political activist and human rights advocate who has boycotted the polls, and Ibrahim Sharif, the former leader of Bahrain’s leftist National Democratic Labor Action Society or Waad, whose party has been dissolved, is also a Sunni Muslim boycotting the election. Liberal, communist and Islamic groups are against the Al Khalifa government and have stayed away.
Why do you think the Al Khalifa dynasty is afraid of establishing democracy and holding free elections in Bahrain?
The people of Bahrain are religious and independent and want to determine their own fate. But Al Khalifa is worried that with the establishment of democracy, people can vote for religious scholars and Shias, putting of Al-Khalifa’s authority at risk. That’s why the ruling regime is not ready to hold free elections and tries to forge a ceremonial Parliament. If elections were free, the government of Bahrain would allow international and human rights organizations to supervise the polls. Elections here are not free and the majority of people do not turn out, but the government gives fake statistics and claims that the majority cast ballots.
Al Khalifa is worried that a government like the one in Iran would emerge if Shias assume power. Do you think free elections would result in the formation of a government like that of Iran?
No, they wouldn’t. The people of Bahrain are an independent nation, though they have historical ties with Iran. However, this does not mean that they want to form a government under Iran’s supervision. This is an excuse made up by the opponents of democracy and Al Khalifa, who want to preserve their power in any way possible, even by force. Bahrainis seek to decide for themselves and build their own country.
Another point is the silence of Western countries, especially the United States, regarding the elections and human rights violations in Bahrain.
Why does the West keep mum about Bahrain’s human rights record and lack of democracy and continue to support Al Khalifa, which, as you say, has nothing to do with democracy and human rights?
The Al Khalifa regime is pro-West and safeguards its interests in the region. For example, during Bahrain’s popular uprising, then-U.S. president Barack Obama, a Democrat, said in 2014 that the Al Khalifa regime was important to Washington and, therefore, refused to back the protesters. His successor, Donald Trump, a Republican, said U.S. relations with the Bahraini regime would remain intact. Just two days after Trump’s remarks, regime forces stormed the residence of Sheikh Isa Qassem, one of the protest leaders. Therefore, contrary to their claims of defending human rights and democracy, the U.S. and the West support the Al Khalifa regime in order to protect their own interests and turn a blind eye to human rights violations in Bahrain.