Leave it to the people to make the news and try to spread it. When it’s left to the big newsmakers, the news is nothing more than a short report about the “situation” somewhere.
The world paid attention to what was covered by the media during the Arab revolutions of 2011: Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria. But there’s one more that is strategically ignored: Bahrain. In order to bring attention to this crisis, we must therefore turn to the social media that launched the Green Movement in Iran, the Arab Spring, and the Occupy Movement.
While many look at the protests as a Shia Muslim majority rising against the ruling Sunni minority, this is a simplistic overlook. It is in the benefit of many of the participants in this “situation” to call it a sectarian conflict; to use the Iranian boogeyman to scare off any sympathy from Sunni Arabs and the West. This has been very successful. The careful and limited comments made by the Obama administration are proof enough. It is a given that the comments made by Hilary Clinton about any crisis in the world determine how serious it is. How serious could Bahrain be if there’s no mention of it whatsoever?
The protests are not without a history. The 90s uprisings in Bahrain are the immediate backdrop of the current crisis. This is the Human Rights Watch report from 1997 on the 90s Uprisings in Bahrain.
Not much has changed since. The Saudi-backed (hence, American-backed) Bahraini government uses whatever means necessary to crush the protests; the first and ever-so convincing claim made is that they are Iranian-backed and therefore sectarian to the bone. This is not about democracy, it is merely about dethroning a Sunni royal family and replace it with an Iranian(-backed) Shia government. It is to discredit it, to claim that it is not demands for democracy, equal opportunities and human rights, but demands for a theocracy.
Months of brutal crackdowns on protests and demonstrations have passed. The claims that Iran is involved has been the motto under which human rights violations are committed. Then came the Bassiouni report. An independent investigation commissioned by the Bahraini government and headed by Cherif Bassiouni. The most remarkable find: no ties to Iran. (Page 387)
The report exposed the government and confirmed many of the allegations of torture and excessive indiscriminate force against civilians which lead to many deaths.
You’d expect that the government would make amends now. No.
The famous human rights activist Abdul-Hadi Al-Khawaja was arrested in April 8th 2011. He “was tried before a military tribunal and given a life sentence for allegedly conspiring to overthrow the Bahrain government. Both his trial and subsequent appeal, which was also heard before a military tribunal, have been heavily criticised by major human rights and legal organisations. The BICI further found that after he was sentenced, he was ‘beaten by guards’. The findings of the BICI report were also very critical of the quality of the justice Mr al-Khawaja and other political leaders received.”
Abdul-Hadi Al-Khawaja has been on a hunger strike for over 70 days now. A few hours ago he asked to meet his lawyer to write his will. The request was denied. He however made a phone call to his wife urging the people to continue the peaceful resistance. He stopped drinking water, and it is only a matter of time before he passes away. Read more about Abdul-Hadi Al-Khawaja.
Noam Chomsky on Bahrain:
“The US supports all of this so it keeps quiet. The main concern of the US and its allies is the oil producing states. Bahrain is not a main oil producer, but it’s part of the oil producing system so they don’t want any trouble there.”
Shouting in the Dark
“The story of the Arab revolution that was abandoned by the Arabs, forsaken by the West and forgotten by the world.”
The highly acclaimed Al-Jazeera International documentary on Bahrain:
Human Rights violations:
US recent arms deal with Bahrain.
A woman imprisoned for listening to “revolutionary” music!
Medics describe torture in detention.
Fired for participating in protests.
Medics in Bahrain are targets of retribution.
Suspicious deaths in custody.
One year on, accountability remains a distant aspiration.
Prisoner describes torture to court.
Deadly use of tear gas.
Military court finds medics guilty.
Poet sentenced for reading a poem. (She was released later)
A human rights crisis in Bahrain.
More human rights reports on Bahrain:
Human Rights Watch on Bahrain.
Amnesty International on Bahrain.
Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), the Bassiouni Report.