LETTER: WELCOME FOCUS ON BAHRAIN

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The Independent Online
From Dr Majeed Alawi

Sir: Robert Fisk is again proving that he is the voice of the voiceless. In his current series of articles on Bahrain, he has not only shown his impressive awareness of minute details of the constitutional crises in our country, but has also provided a fresh perspective to Western readers in looking at the tribal regimes in the Gulf.

For more than a year now the people of Bahrain have been struggling to convince the rest of the world that they are not Islamic fanatics, nor is the reform movement controlled by foreign powers, as the Al Khalifa family and its supporters in the West have been saying.

As someone whose members of his family suffered at the hand of security forces - my uncle, Mirza Abdul Redha, was one of those killed in the uprising and my 14-year-old nephew, Mohammed Al Ekri, was sexually and physically abused (see Amnesty International's comprehensive report on Bahrain published in September 1995) - I found Mr Fisk's recent articles a breath of fresh air in an increasingly suffocating world. Mohammed, incidentally, was sentenced to 10 years in jail, but was released after his case was taken up by the British Foreign Office. His father, Ali, who spent seven years in jail during the Eighties for his political opposition, was again arrested last week and my sister has not yet been told where her husband is being held.

Mr Fisk's dispatches are powerful reminders of the dangers associated with a policy developed around appeasement to dictatorships.

Yours faithfully,

Majeed Alawi

London, N5

16 February

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