MP calls for calm with Qatar as Bahrain plans tighter checks of maritime borders

June 10, 2010

A Bahraini lawmaker has urged Bahrain’s media and rights activists to avoid exacerbating tension between Manama and Doha over the detention of fishermen in Qatar.

“We want a prompt settlement of this issue and we urge newspapers and human rights organizations here not to fuel tension,” Ibrahim Al Hadi, MP for the Islamic Menbar, said. “Many families of the fishermen have contacted me to plead for composed statements and coverage by activists and the media in order not to provoke the Qataris and compound the situation of their relatives,” the MP said in a statement to the media.

Tension flared between the two neighbours last month after a Bahraini fisherman, Adel Al Taweel, was shot by Qatari coastguards who said that he did not heed their warning to leave Qatari waters.

The wounded fisherman was taken to hospital in Doha, but the local authorities refused to allow him to go home despite pleas by a medical delegation and Bahraini rights activists who made the trip to Qatar to repatriate him.

Manama reacted by calling for the release of 107 Bahraini and Asian fishermen held by Doha for straying into Qatari waters.

Bahraini media and human rights activists put intense pressure on Qatar to allow the detainees to go home. However, despite the barrage of criticism, Doha remained adamant that the Bahrain-based fishermen be tried for entering Qatari waters illegally.

Bahraini officials on Wednesday adopted a more reconciliatory approach with Doha, saying that the Qataris needed to protect their resources and borders.

According to Colonel Alaeddine Seyadi, Bahrain Coastguard commander, the areas where most Bahrain-based fishermen were arrested were known to be a drug exchange zone or located near large gas fields.

Seyadi said that following the release of some of the detainees, 16 Bahrainis and 72 Bahrain-based expatriate fishermen were being held in Doha for entering Qatari waters illegally.

The dramatic increase of Bahrain-based fishermen caught in foreign waters, from eight in 2006 to 12 in 2007, 36 in 2008 and 78 in 2009, has prompted the coastguards to plan for the establishment of an electronic border system that uses highly sensitive radars, long distance surveillance cameras and detection devices, he said.

“Every new vessel in Bahrain will be fitted with a detection device to avert any infiltration to neighbouring territorial waters,” Seyadi said as he explained the new e-border concept to the media.

Last year, Mohammed Abdul Wahab, a Bahraini fisherman was killed after a Qatari Coastguard patrol rammed his boat as he tried to outturn it. His body was found floating in the sea off Qatari coast three days later.




About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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