Bahrain dissidents Commemorate 2 Years of Protest, Condemn Repression

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.

Excerpt:

“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.

3 Responses

  1. Because Shia’s are the persecuted here there is no love for them. They are not called “revolutionaries” but the Syrian Al Queda terrorists are revolutionaries.
    It is hypocrisy of highest order.
    But my outrage is not only based on the concept of fairness but also America’s and the West’s long term interest. Backing Sunnis on the Shia-Sunni conflict is not smart. Sunnis are universally more anti-American and extreme in their views with their Saudi Arabian leadership.
    Shias are minorities in the muslim world and are generally persecuted by the Sunni majority except Iran (and now Iraq).

    Our pro-Saudi Arabia and hence pro-Sunni policy is so stupidly myopic that it boggles the mind. In next 10 years we will not have any use of Saudi Arabia as we will be energy independent and in 50 years the world will see Crude Oil as a relic of past generation’s primitive source of energy.

    We have supported any group that is being persecuted around the world, then why are not helping the persecuted Shias and live up to our own ideals.

    • Lord Palmerston is quoted as saying: “Nations have no permanent friends or enemies, they only have permanent interests.”

      This is, in fact, a wise observation. When it is in the US interest to support Saudi Arabia and Bahrain as friends, then it is wise to do so, just as it was wise to support Mubarak’s Egypt as a friend of US interests. When it is no longer in the US interest to support Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, it will be equally wise to relinquish their friendship, just as it was wise to relinquish Mubarak’s Egypt when it no longer was in the US interest to support it. This is an element of international relations that ideologues of both the Left and the Right have a hard time coming to grips with.

      • Lord Palmerston and the old empire that he represented is not what United States is all about. United States is a unique nation of the new world and its power is used for the betterment of the world (by and large).
        We have always stood for the underdog and helped out the little guy against persecution. In that American spirit, we must stand by the Shias.
        My point was that standing by the Shias is not only the right thing to do but also happens to be in the long term interests of the united states.

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