Home > Articles > 17/02/2011 25 Bahman –Protests in Bahrain

17/02/2011 25 Bahman –Protests in Bahrain

No Sunni, No Shia, Just Bahraini” is the chant going on right now in Manama, capital of Bahrain. Until now, political clashes in the country were always ethnically oriented, however since the beginning of the recent protests on 25 Bahman (14th of February), Sunni’s and Shii’s, men and women, young and old have been fighting together. Thanks to blogs and twitter accounts that have managed to escape government censorship, we know that a peaceful protest held in Lulu Roundabout has turned into a massacre of civilians by the ruthless armed forces: an unknown number of people have been killed and hundreds have been arrested.
International affairs
In an effort to gain a better understanding of the political and military background of BahrainThuhur prayers, Sunnis and Shiaa praying together at #lulu #Bahrain #Feb14 and its importance in the Middle- East, we must turn once more to the leaked diplomatic cables. In 08MANAMA496, C. Henzel, Charge d’Affaires of the U.S. in Bahrain, states that “As the smallest Gulf state, Bahrain has historically needed closer security ties with a western patron than any of its neighbors. As a result, the U.S. Navy has had a presence here since the closing days of the Second World War”.  Other cables assure that in 2008 Bahrain’s leadership was “focused first on defending against potential Iranian missile threats, but also on the return of Navy dependents, and coastal radar upgrades”.  In the same year, ”U.S. foreign military financing for Bahrain […] was only $3.9 million. State, with DoD support, [was] pressing for an increase in the next budget”.
When King Hamad received a message from Iran urging both governments to support an attempt to drive American forces from the Gulf (08MANAMA252), his government was actually supporting the U.S from behind the curtains by putting pressure on Iran to change its behavior and welcoming U.S. military presence (08MANAMA528). Also, in his will to ‘fight corruption’ and secure his interests, King Hamad preferred a deal with U.S. corporations: ”U.S. companies have won major contracts in the past two years [2009], including: Gulf Air’s purchase of 24 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, a USD 5 billion joint-venture with Occidental Petroleum to revitalize the Awali field, and well over USD 300 million in Foreign Military Sales (09MANAMA680).
Local Affairs
In domestic political affairs Bahrain has long suffered from the clashes between two of its ethnic majorities, the larger Shi´a and the minor Sunni (who are in power and are U.S. allies): ¨The Wifaq party remains the most popular party among the majority Shi’a underclass and advocates non-violent political activism on behalf of the Shi’a community. Two Islamist parties dominate the Sunni side of the political scene¨ (08MANAMA592).
As a result, cable 08MANAMA496 explains that censorship and social coercion has been used to increase Bahrain´s regional stability: ”Over the past two months the King has departed from his traditional detached style and intervened personally in several controversies arising from Bahrain’s Shi’a-Sunni tensions. He has publicly, both personally and through his ministers, summoned communal leaders, newspaper editors and bloggers to warn them against crossing red lines against discussion of issues like royal family disputes and criticism of judges who have sentenced Shi’a rioters to prison terms”(2008).
Human Rights and Recent Developments
Although Bahrain has the fastest growing economy in the Arab world (according to the U.N.), its government´s preoccupation with war in the Gulf and mostly with Iran), the Royal Family has created a considerable gap between the rich and the poor. According to studies lead by the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (2004), half of the bahraini citizens are suffering of poverty and poor living conditions. Furthermore, the government led by King Hamad has maintained itself during the years by repressing its citizens’ basic freedoms in various ways. Tonight, as people protested peacefully, asking for basic rights such as freedom of information and democratic elections, were brutally attacked, without an offer to negotiate, by the riot police and the secret service dressed as civilians (forces trained by the U.S.).  We know, from recent tweets, horrifying news about the protest that is going on at Lulu Roundabout. For example @BahreinRights said: ¨Protesters at #lulu been brutally attacked by tear gas & rubber bullets at 3AM (…) time while sleeping, many kids and women were there¨, while @Warchadi tweeted that ¨police are attacking houses and arresting people”. The number of dead and wounded is still unknown and women and children are being evacuated to a nearby hospital. Many of them are tweeting desperately for blood donations. Also, recent posts confirm that tanks have arrived at the roundabout and people are fearing for their lives.
Thursday, 17 Feb 2001, 03.52 AM (GMT 0)
@Dr_Murtadha: News of more than 100 wounded and tht paramedics are nt being allowed to pick up wounded from the roundabout #Bahrain #feb14 #lulu

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