The USG Open Source Center translates a report from the Bahrain newspaper al-Wasat for Feb. 14, entitled “Bahraini Opposition Condemns Security Solution, ‘Ill-Treatment’ of Prisoners.” (They mean by ‘security solution’ the regime’s preference for dealing with dissent by violence instead of negotiation.) Bahrain is an ethnically divided society of some 550,000 citizens, mostly Arab, and a similar number of expatriate workers. Some 60% of the Arab citizens are Shiite Muslims, while the monarchy and power elite is mostly Sunni. Shiite activists have been protesting their second class citizenship and lack of access to the better jobs and educational opportunities, which are reserved for Sunnis. They have been joined by some reformist Sunnis who object to the iron fist policy of the monarchy. Dissidents want to see Bahrain move to being a constitutional monarchy where most decision-making is in the hands of parliament and where parliament actually looks like the country. The Sunni monarchy paints the Shiite dissidents as cat’s paws of Iran, which is untrue. The US has a major naval base at Manama and although the Obama administration has urged the king to compromise, Washington has not spoken out forcefully against the repressive tactics of the Bahrain secret police.
“The police forces fired yesterday tear gas and stun grenades to disperse demonstrators who attempted to reach Pearl Roundabout in the capital Manama, and there were reports of several injuries.
This demonstration followed a mass protest that had been called for by the opposition political societies; namely, Al-Wifaq National Islamic Society, National Democratic Action Society (Wa’d), Nationalist Democratic Assembly, National Democratic Assemblage, and Al-Ikha National Society. The Interior Ministry said on its Twitter account that “after the end of a march on Al-Badi Street, a group of vandals rioted and closed streets, which necessitated taking legal action against them.”
The opposition forces said in a statement that “resorting to the security solution to resolve the crisis in Bahrain has proved sheer failure for over two years,” and that “such a solution should be stopped, especially since the crisis is political and needs a serious and comprehensive political solution that would meet the demands of the political majority of the Bahraini people calling for change and democracy.”
The opposition pointed out that merging the security and political solutions together is not possible, adding that “if the call for dialogue is serious and is meant to come up with positive results, it should be accompanied by the cessation of the security operations and violations, as well as the media provocation practiced by official and semi-official media outlets.”…
The opposition forces expressed their grave concerns over reports about a number of prisoners of conscience and expression have gone on a hunger strike, and some even on a thirst strike, because of the ill-treatment, persecution, poor conditions, and denial of the basic human rights inside the detention centers…
Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now! reports on the commemoration in Bahrain of the beginning of the two-year-old protest movement against government policies there.