TEHRAN (Tasnim) - A Finnish lawyer and author slammed the US-led Western society's silence on the Manama regime's recent moves to crack down on the Shiite majority in Bahrain, saying the West's inaction proves its "double standards" on human rights.
Speaking to the Tasnim News Agency, Jon Hellevig condemned the Bahraini regime's recent decision to sentence six citizens to death on what he says are, "trumped-up politically fabricated charges".
"But there has not been any Western outcry against these sentences, what we therefore have is a classic case of double standards," the lawyer said, adding, "But even to call them double standards is being too generous, the West is not guided by any moral standards," he said.
Jon Krister Hellevig is a Finnish political economist, lawyer, and businessman who has worked in Russia since the early 1990s. Hellevig was a candidate in the European parliament election in 2014. He is the managing partner of the Moscow-based law company Hellevig, Klein and Usov. Hellevig has written several books, including Avenir Guide to Russian Taxes (2002, 2003, 2006 English and Russian editions); Avenir Guide to Labor Laws (2002, 2003, 2006 English and Russian editions). Expressions and Interpretations, a book on the philosophy of law and the development of Russian legal practices; Hellevig takes an active part in public discussion of current affairs and social structure contributing with articles and commentary in the media. He regularly lectures at international seminars on various topics.
Following is the full text of the interview:
Tasnim: The Bahraini regime recently sentenced six citizens to death on trumped-up charges, like attempting to assassinate the Commander-in-Chief of Bahrain Defense Force (BDF) and carrying out terror attacks. What is your take on the death sentences?
Hellevig: I am in principle opposed to capital punishment, there is always too big of a risk of misjudgment. Capital punishment on trumped-up politically fabricated charges are of course totally unacceptable, it amounts to nothing more than summary executions. In this case, the question is of a virtual terror regime accusing dissidents of terror. But there has not been any Western outcry against these sentences, what we therefore have is a classic case of double standards. But even to call them double standards is being too generous, the West is not guided by any moral standards, it is just a question of addressing all global questions of human life according to the narrative that fits their geopolitical strategies.
A case in point is US President Trump's silence on Bahrain (whose regime is a US ally) and his preposterous blather on Iran. There have been minor scattered protests in Iran in the past few days, and the Western media has been trying to play up these as some kind of massive challenge to the Iranian government and its way of life. In this context, Trump went out with a tweet saying, "Many reports of peaceful protests by Iranian citizens fed up with regime's corruption and its squandering of the nation's wealth to fund terrorism abroad. Iranian govt should respect their people's rights, including right to express themselves. The world is watching!" That's how indignant Trump is about the suffering of the oppressed people, he wants us to think in his propaganda tweet, but not a word about the very real repression in regime allied Bahrain.
Tasnim: As you may know, the Bahraini regime forces, in a recent politically motivated move, have extensively surrounded the house of Sheikh Isa Qassim, the spiritual leader of the country's Shiite majority, in Diraz, west of Manama. The move came as the health condition of the top Shiite cleric has deteriorated, according to a statement from the UK-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD). Sheikh Qassim needs to undergo an emergency medical operation, the statement said. What is your assessment of the developments?
Hellevig: This is one more aspect of the near total repression by the Bahrain regime backed up by Saudi money and military. But, because the regime is US allied, again we hear nothing about this horrendous human rights violation and attack on religious freedoms. The international community must demand an immediate lift of the siege of Sheikh Isa Qassim's residence and he has to be flown out to a neutral country to receive due medical assistance.
Tasnim: The people of the Persian Gulf country have staged demonstrations on various occasions in support of Sheikh Qassim and condemned the continued house arrest of the top cleric. In your opinion, can such protests pressure the Al Khalifa regime to lift the house arrest? What role could international human right bodies play in the incidents?
Hellevig: I again go back to the role of the US-led Western community. As long as they stay mum about the repression in Bahrain, they effectively award a carte blanche to the regime. And as the Bahrain regime seems to be totally immune to domestic public opinion and with increased military and police repression and that with Saudi backing, it seems they can go on infinitely. Relief may come only when the Saudi regime itself falls, which fortunately seems to be in the cards anyway.
Tasnim: What do you think about the Manama regime's recent attempts to normalize ties with Tel Aviv, do not you think that the Saudi lobby is behind such attempts and the ongoing crackdown on the Shiite majority in Bahrain?
Hellevig: Obviously, the Saudis are behind it, and the Americans, too. All wars and repressions in the Middle East at least for the last 20 years are the making of that trio: the Saudi, Israeli, and the US regimes.