Al-Khalifa despots run Bahrain. State terror is official policy. Washington supports it. Generous aid is provided. King Hamad remains a close US ally. Double standard hypocrisy defines America’s foreign and domestic agenda.
Bahrainis want democratic change. They want popularly elected leaders. They want despotic monarchal rule, ruthless persecution, widespread corruption, and Shia discrimination ended.
For many months, they’ve braved tear gas, beatings, rubber bullets, live fire, arrests, torture, imprisonments, and disappearances. They won’t quit. The price of freedom is high.
King Hamad calls peaceful protests “foreign plots.” He banned them earlier. Unauthorized public meetings and seminars were prohibited.
On October 30, public gatherings were again banned. Authorities call them illegal. Participants face severe harshness. That’s how police states operate.
Fundamental rights are criminalized. Daily nonviolent protests still continue. Participants brave severe repression. Some end up dead.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) works for “a prosperous democratic country free of discrimination and other violations of human rights.”
It “encourage(s) and support(s) individuals and groups to be proactive in the protection of their own and others’ rights; and to struggle to promote democracy and human rights in accordance with international norms.”
Its four objectives include:
(1) Promoting civil, political, and economic freedom.
(2) Ending racial discrimination.
(3) Disseminating human rights culture.
(4) Supporting and protecting victims’ rights.
Bahraini human rights activists risk life and limb. Pro-democracy supporters are terrorized. Some have their citizenship revoked. Others face arrests, beatings, imprisonment, torture, and at times death.
On December 24, BCHR headlined, “Bahrain: Escalating state violence against peaceful protesters in lack of international accountability and using western arms.”
BCHR expressed grave concern about about ruthless state terror. It documents those affected. It discusses injuries from rubber bullets, shotgun pellets, tear gas, toxic chemicals, sound grenades, beatings, and live fire.
Injured victims avoid public hospitals. They’re militarized. Arrival for treatment risks arrest and imprisonment.
Collaboratively with doctors, BCHR discussed recent examples of injuries sustained. It did so “to present the most thorough and accurate description” of serious human rights violations.
On December 16, King Hamad called Bahrain “a country of law and freedom.” Repression is official policy. On December 17, BCHR’s acting vice president, Sayed Yousi, said authorities made 27 arbitrary arrests.
Mass protests occurred. Bahrain’s Martyrs Day was commemorated. Excessive force was used. Numerous injuries followed.
A one kg tear gas canister struck a young woman. She sustained a three-bone foot fracture. Urgent treatment was needed.
She feared arrest. Doctors operated on her at an undisclosed location. Her prognosis is poor. She’s expected to endure long-term pain. Her foot will remain deformed.
Security forces open fire at point blank range. A tear gas canister struck a young man. His forearm was fractured. Severe bone damage resulted. He required secret surgery. Doing so involves unsanitary conditions. Infection risks are high.
BCHR discussed a protester injured by multiple shotgun pellets. Many remain lodged in his body. He’s in pain. His injuries are severe.
“Several teenagers were shot in the face with shotguns and are at risk of blindness in one or both eyes.”
One remains in serious condition. He’ll possibly go blind. He’s seeking private medical care. Three other protesters sustained eye injuries. They’re in critical condition. Their prognosis is unclear.
Illegal weapons are used. Excessive force targets all protesters. Bahrainis brave state terror. They demonstrate actively anyway. They risk injuries, arrests, imprisonment and death.
Many protesters sustain serious chest, head and face wounds. Pellets penetrate lungs. Breathing problems result. Medical care is sought secretly in private homes.
Anyone seen injured in public risks detention. Some seek hospital treatment anyway. Doing so assures arrest. BCHR discussed Shamsan Mohammed.
On November 2, he was outside his home. Twenty people gathered nearby. Riot police attacked them. Metal shotgun pellets were fired.
They’re 2.2 – 3.8mm in diameter. They’re fired at point blank range. They cause serious injuries. Multiple ones occur. Chests, heads, and faces are most vulnerable.
Shamsan sustained eyes, chest, waist and leg injuries. He sought hospital care. On arrival, he was arrested and detained. He disappeared for four days.
Family members learned he was at Dry Docks prison. He was given a choice. Provide information about protesters or face torture and imprisonment. He explained he was unable to help.
He was electroshocked and severely beaten. He received constant threats. Many others are persecuted the same way.
Ahmed Aoun is a seventeen-year old student. A shotgun pellet remains lodged in his eye. He sustained it while peacefully protesting. He received private hospital treatment.
Police arrested him. He needs follow-up surgery. He’s denied. He’s been beaten and sexually harassed. He’s in severe pain. He’s expected to be tried and imprisoned.
On December 19, armed police in civilian clothes attacked a young Al Duraz resident. They raided his home pre-dawn. He sustained multiple deep forearm wounds. His left hand remains numb.
Excessive force is standard policy. Bahranis are ruthlessly terrorized. Peaceful protesters are targeted. “BCHR regularly receives a large number of reports of injuries.” Many are serious. Seeking treatment is hazardous.
BCHR expressed deep concern and disappointment about international community silence. It holds America and other Western countries most responsible.
It urged all nations stop supplying Bahrain with arms, ammunition, and political support. It demands long overdue condemnation and isolation of a rogue regime.
Zainab Alkhawaja is a prominent Bahraini human rights activist. She’s Abdulhadi Alkhawaja’s daughter. He co-founded BCHR. He was its first president.
He served as Front Line Defenders’ Middle East and North Africa Protection Coordinator. He worked as a member of the International Advisory Network of the Business and Human Rights Resource Center.
He’s one of Bahrain’s best. He remains imprisoned for life. He risked everything courageously supporting human rights.
Zainab was arrested. She protested outside Abdulhadi’s prison hospital. She wouldn’t leave. She called out her father’s name. She demanded he be released. Other protesters with her were also arrested.
She was lawlessly detained. She was sentenced to one month imprisonment and fined. She was denied counsel and family contacts. She was accused of “inciting hatred against the regime through chanting political slogans.”
She was arrested numerous times before. Thirteen cases remain active against her. She spent months in prison earlier. She’s vulnerable to rearrest any time.
Current BCHR president Nabeel Rajab was imprisoned numerous times for supporting human rights. He was targeted again after being interviewed on Russia Today.
On December 25, The New York Times provided rare op-ed space. Truth got a rare opportunity. Zainab’s commentary was featured. Her outspokenness leaves her vulnerable. She may face arrest like Nabeel.
She headlined “Bahrain, a Brutal Ally,” saying:
In early December, nineteen-year old Aqeel Abudul Mohsen protested peacefully. Security forces shot him in the face.
“He was covered with blood, with the lower side of his face blown open, his jaw shattered, and a broken hand hanging awkwardly from his wrist.”
“It’s one of those images that you wish you had never seen, and can never forget.”
He needed 10 hours of surgery. Police stood guard. Until he regained consciousness, he couldn’t be interrogated.
“Others have lain bleeding without medical attention while government security agents asked questions like: “Were you participating in a protest? Who else was with you?”
Al Khalifa monarchs ruled Bahrain for over two centuries. It’s home to America’s Fifth Fleet. Oppressed Bahrainis began protesting after Mubarak’s ouster.
“With newfound hope, (they) took to the streets. Rich and poor, Shiite and Sunni, liberal and religious, they felt what it was like to speak freely for the first time.”
Manama’s Pearl Roundabout symbolized Bahraini activism. Freedom expressions “didn’t last long.” Security forces cracked down. The Pearl monument was demolished.
In March 2011, Saudi troops entered guns blazing. UAE ones joined them. Pro-democracy supporters were attacked.
“Going out on the streets, carrying nothing but a flag and calling for democracy could cost you your life,” said Zainab.
“Chanting ‘down with the dictator’ could lead to your being subjected to electric shocks.”
“Giving a speech about human rights and democracy can lead to life imprisonment.”
“Infants died after suffocating from toxic gases used by riot police.”
“Teenage protesters have been shot and killed.”
Many Bahraini families have multiple members imprisoned.
“My father, Abdulhadi, was beaten unconscious in my apartment in front of my family.”
“He was taken away with my husband and brother-in-law. They were all tortured” and imprisoned.
“My husband was released in January. My brother-in-law was released after a six-month sentence in late 2011. My father was sentenced to life in prison.”
“He staged four hunger strikes.” One lasted 110 days. He almost died. He was painfully force-fed.
Despite enormous sacrifices, freedom struggles face long odds. Al Khalifa despots have powerful allies. Washington, Britain, Saudi Arabia, and others provide support.
Bahrainis see little difference between American and Saudi brutes. They’re concerned only about their own self-interest. They deplore democracy. They crush it when emerges.
American double standards are especially galling. Washington abhors human rights it claims to support. It condemns regional violence. It turns a blind eye to horrific Bahraini crimes against humanity.
It fully supports its regional ally. Double standard duplicity “cost(s) America its credibility across the region.” It’s understood that “if you are an ally of America, then you can get away” with murder and other human rights abuses.
Al Khalifa despots believe they have international immunity. They commit “widespread human rights violations.” They conduct business as usual.
They buy arms and negotiate lucrative deals. They govern with impunity. Bahrain’s best languish in prison. Change remains a distant hope.
Bahrainis struggle courageously anyway. Freedom is too important to sacrifice. It’s outrageous “that America continues to back a regime” it should condemn. It’s official US policy.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at [email protected]. His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.” www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening. www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour