Original Articles

Racist Shia Arabs lynching Pakistanis in Bahrain? – by Ram Alamdar Hussain

Related articles: Sectarianism and racism: The dishonest narratives on Bahrain – by Hasnain Magsi

Recruitment of Bahrain National Guards in Lahore to kill Shia protesters in Bahrain

The fabrication of Bahrain’s Shiite-Sunni divide – by Shirin Sadeghi

The Mainstream Narrative in Pakistan and the Muslim World

On Bahrain, the anti-Shia narrative goes like this:

“In Bahrain, the Hizbullahis and the racist Shia Arabs are lynching the Pakistan army and their supporters. The perfidious Shias are getting too uppity and need to be brought down and the status quo has to maintained at all costs. Period. “

If one deviates from the script that the situation in Bahrain is NO MORE than the Lebanese killing the Baloch, then they are labelled as Khomeini agents!

Context

There is no mention of the decades-long struggle in Bahrain for equal citizenship rights or how a Sunni minority has suppressed a Shia majority for centuries. Similarly, there is NO mention of the fact that Bahrain has one of the oldest Shia communities in the world that predates Iran by more than 500 years.

Instead, ALL Shias are conflated as Iranian wannabe supporters of Khomeini and Ahmedinejad and as fifth columnists who are out to destroy an idyllic society. This same mantra of demonizing the oppressed has been used to brutalize Shias over the ages. In this dishonest depiction, all facts are discarded.

There is no mention of the fact that Bahrainis follow the Akhbari school within Shia Islam which does not accept the Wilayat-e- Faqih doctrine of Ayatullah Khomeini and his followers.

Neither is the fact that most Bahraini Shias espouse the Quietist views of Ayatullah Sistani and not the theocratic views of Ahmedinejad.

There are various Shia factions in Bahrain that range from the secular to the theocratic but nearly all support democracy and equal citizenship rights.

Selective Liberalism

In the eyes of non-Shia sectarian apologists of Bahrain’s dictator Hamad Al Khalifa, this context is best swept under the carpet and the status quo has to be manitained at all costs. The tragedy in Bahrain is that many non-Shia Muslims who normally trumpet themselves as secular and liberal, are singing the same mantra as the Bahraini Khalifa, the Saudi despots and the Pakistani army generals.

Like some sections of the left who support the Taliban, these liberal and secular Muslims have allied themselves with the same forces that have done to them the greatest harm.

For the sectarian minded out to protect the status quo in Bahrain, none of the context matters.

Lynching of Pakistan Expats

A favourite tactic is to only highlight the lynching of Pakistani expats by Bahraini mobs and deliberately leave out everything else. While much of this comes from highly unreliable sources, any such lynching must be condemned. However to simply stress on this and not mention the firing squads on Bahraini protesters by the same Pakistani mercenaries, is the height of dishonesty. There is no mention of the widespread torture, imprisonment and State supported disenfranchisement of the Bahraini Shia democrat activists by the Khalifa regime.

Role of Pakistan Army and Mercenaries

The role of the Pakistani army and its direct involvement along with the army of Saudi Arabia is deplorable as is the role of those who are distorting the facts in their favour.

In Bangladesh and Balochistan, only the elitist supporters of the Pakistan army equate violence of the Mukhti Bahinis and the Baloch Nationalists with that of the Pakistan army. No one else does this.

Fair minded individuals support the genuine grievances of the Baloch today, just as they supported the genuine grievances of the Bangladeshis, both of which started from 1947-48. The same thing is happening in Bahrain today and the role of the Pakistan army and intelligentsia is truly disappointing. Prejudice is blind.

Asymmetrical Violence

Only the prejudiced equate the violence on both sides as equal in terms of force and morality. The situation in Bahrain and in Parachinar should serve as an eye opener to Shia Muslims, not just in Pakistan but all over the world. They have to realize that it is the Judeo-Christain intelligentsia of the West that possess the moral and intellectual integrity to accept the oppression and targeting of Shias by other Muslims.  The “Ummah”  hates the Shias.

Voices of Support

From the New York Times (referred to as Jew York Times by the Anti-Semitic supporters of the Pakistan army) to Huffington Post and from Amnesty International to Human Rights Watch, individuals of conscience like Nicholas Kristoff and others have highlighted the dire situation in Bahrain and the brutal and violent crackdown that exclusively targeted the pro-democracy Shia protesters.

Silence of Sunni Muslims (except the odd few)

As someone whose mother is from the Pushtun Hindu community that is based in Peshawar and Swat, I can vouch for the fact that the Hindus in Pakistan and India have always been supportive of Shias and have wholeheartedly participated in Muharram commemoration. In my travels in America and Europe, Christains and Jews, atheists and secularists have all been supportive and respectful of my Shia identity.

In the Muslim world, there is a defeaning silence against the brutalities committed on Shias by extremist Muslims. From the persecution of Shias of Kano and Sokoto in Nigeria to those in Malaysia, one can literally count a handful of non-Shia Muslims who have raised a voice. If these issues are ever discussed, they are falsely presented as an equal violence between Shias and Sunnis with greater blame being placed on Shias. When Shia mosques and shrines are destroyed by suicide bombers and scores are killed, the Shias are blamed! Today, the only group that seek to make the Shias extinct from this planet are non-Shia Muslims and Shias must never make the mistake of expecting any sympathy from them, exceptions not withstanding.

While I still respect and love my Sunni Muslim friends, I know that with only a few exception I can generally not count on them to understand or sympathize with my condition. We share our Indo-Pak heritage but our faith communities should proceed in different directions. Whenever Shias express concern over the massacre of other Shias, they are labelled as “sectarian bigots” by their own fellow non-Shia muslims.  For the latter, the persecution of Shias is not to be talked about and is therefore perfectly acceptable. Shias all over the world have to realize that they can only survive in secular democracies and never in Muslim majority or Islamic States.

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Abdul Nishapuri

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  • Thursday, April 14, 2011

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    Bahrain should investigate deaths in custody: HRW

    DUBAI: Bahrain should investigate the death in police custody of three Shias, US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Wednesday, saying one of the bodies bore signs of physical abuse.

    Bahrain has launched a security crackdown after its police forces quelled weeks of pro-democracy protests led mainly by its disgruntled Shia majority last month. The opposition says hundreds have been arrested and four have died in police custody over the past 10 days. “It’s outrageous and cruel that people are taken off to detention and the families hear nothing until the body shows up with signs of abuse,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director for the New York-based group. “The authorities need to explain why this is happening, put a stop to it, and hold anyone responsible to account.”

    HRW said it had seen the body of Ali Saqer, one of the men who died in police custody, and that it bore signs of severe physical abuse.

    Bahrain has accused human rights activist Nabeel Rajab, head of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, of doctoring pictures of the corpse. “We viewed Ali Saqer’s body just prior to his burial and its condition was exactly as shown in the photo that Nabeel Rajab circulated,” Stork said. Ali Saqer was charged with attempting to run over a policeman with his car last month.

    Four policemen died during the unrest, including at least two run over by the cars of Shia protesters. At least 13 protesters died.

    The government denies there is torture in Bahrain and government officials say all such accusations will be investigated. It has released 86 people who were arrested during the crackdown. The protests prompted the government to declare martial law in March and bring troops from Sunni Gulf neighbours Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates who fear the regional influence of Shia power Iran.

    Bahrain’s crackdown on Shia dissent has raised tensions in the world’s top oil-exporting region, drawing criticism from Iraq, Iran and Shia movement Hezbullah. reuters

    http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011%5C04%5C14%5Cstory_14-4-2011_pg4_3

  • Barack Obama must speak out on Bahrain bloodshed
    Bahrainis are suffering the same violent repression as Libyans – so why does Obama have nothing to say?

    Amy Goodman
    guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 13 April 2011

    Funeral prayers are said over the coffin of Ali Isa Saqer, who died while in police custody. Photograph: Mazen Mahdi/EPA
    Three days after Hosni Mubarak resigned as the long-standing dictator in Egypt, people in the small Gulf state of Bahrain took to the streets, marching to their version of Tahrir: Pearl Square, in the capital city of Manama. Bahrain has been ruled by the same family, the House of Khalifa, since the 1780s – more than 220 years. Bahrainis were not demanding an end to the monarchy, but for more representation in their government.

    One month into the uprising, Saudi Arabia sent military and police forces over the 16-mile causeway that connects the Saudi mainland to Bahrain, an island. Since then, the protesters, the press and human-rights organisations have suffered increasingly violent repression.

    One courageous young Bahraini pro-democracy activist, Zainab al-Khawaja, has seen the brutality up close. To her horror, she watched her father, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, a prominent human-rights activist, be beaten and arrested. She described it to me from Manama:

    “Security forces attacked my home. They came in without prior warning. They broke down the building door, and they broke down our apartment door, and instantly attacked my father without giving him a chance to speak and without giving any reason for his arrest. They dragged my father down the stairs and started beating him in front of me. They beat him until he was unconscious. The last thing I heard my father say was that he couldn’t breathe. When I tried to intervene, when I tried to tell them: ‘Please to stop beating him. He will go with you voluntarily. You don’t need to beat him this way,’ they told me to shut up, basically, and they grabbed me … and dragged me up the stairs back into the apartment. By the time I had got out of the room again, the only trace of my father was his blood on the stairs.”
    Human Rights Watch has called for the immediate release of Khawaja. Zainab’s husband and brother-in-law have also been arrested. Tweeting as “angryarabiya” she has commenced a water-only fast in protest. She also has written a letter to President Barack Obama:

    “If anything happens to my father, my husband, my uncle, my brother-in-law, or to me, I hold you just as responsible as the Al-Khalifa regime. Your support for this monarchy makes your government a partner in crime. I still have hope that you will realise that freedom and human rights mean as much to a Bahraini person as it does to an American.”
    Obama condemned the Gaddafi government in his speech, justifying the recent military attacks in Libya, saying: “Innocent people were targeted for killing. Hospitals and ambulances were attacked. Journalists were arrested.” Now that the same things are happening in Bahrain, Obama has little to say.

    As with the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, the sentiment is nationalist, not religious. The country is 70% Shia, ruled by the Sunni minority. Nevertheless, a central rallying cry of the protests has been “Not Shia, Not Sunni: Bahraini”. This debunks the argument used by the Bahraini government that the current regime is the best bulwark against increased influence of Iran, a Shia country, in the oil-rich Gulf. Add to that Bahrain’s strategic role: it is where the US navy’s fifth fleet is based, tasked with protecting “US interests” like the Strait of Hormuz and the Suez Canal, and supporting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Surely, US interests include supporting democracy over despots.

    Nabeel Rajab is the president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights – the organisation formerly run by the recently abducted Abdulhadi al-Khawaja. Rajab is facing a possible military trial for publishing the photograph of a protester who died in custody. Rajab told me: “Hundreds of people are in jail for practising their freedom of expression. People are tortured for expressing their freedom of expression. Thousands of people sacked from their jobs … And all that, because one day, a month ago, almost half of the Bahraini population came out in the street demanding democracy and respect for human rights.”

    Rajab noted that democracy in Bahrain would lead to democracy in neighbouring Gulf dictatorships, especially Saudi Arabia, so most regional governments have a stake in crushing the protests. Saudi Arabia is well positioned for the task, as the recent beneficiary of the largest arms deal in US history. Despite the threats, Rajab was resolute: “As far as I’m breathing, as far as I’m alive, I am going to continue. I believe in change. I believe in democracy. I believe in human rights. I’m willing to give my life. I’m willing to give anything to achieve this goal.”

    • Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/apr/13/barack-obama-bahrain-bloodshed

  • Bahrain: Saudi Forces at Forefront of Brutal Repression

    by Finian Cunningham

    Global Research, April 10, 2011

    Bahraini man Ahmed Farhan was shot in the head by Saudi soldiers as he lay fatally wounded on the ground. He was singled out for the brutal killing simply because he was carrying the Bahraini national flag in his car, witnesses say.

    Thirty-year-old Ahmed had the misfortune of going to refuel his car at a petrol station on the outskirts of his hometown, Sitra, when it came under attack from heavily armed troops belonging to the Bahraini Defence Force and Saudi army. The soldiers, backed by armoured cars and tanks, were firing live rounds and raiding homes in the mainly Shia town in northeastern Bahrain – military operations that have become a daily event here in towns and villages across Bahrain.

    “There were other customers at the petrol station, but the soldiers noticed that Ahmed had a Bahraini flag in his car,” recalled a close friend.

    “Because of this, they saw him as a protester against the regime. They shot him first with shotguns while he was sitting in the car. Ahmed got out of the car and tried to run away, but the soldiers fired at him and hit him in the head. Then as he lay on the ground bleeding, a Saudi soldier walked up to him and shot Ahmed in the head with a high-velocity weapon.”

    His friend continued: “They were wearing masks but they were Saudi soldiers because we could tell from their uniforms and their accents.”

    This was only 24 hours after thousands of troops from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states arrived in Bahrain as part of the Peninsula Shield task force on March 14. The Bahraini government headed by King Hamad Al Khalifa declared then that it had called on neighbouring states to help it “restore order and stability” after four weeks of massive pro-democracy, and mainly peaceful, protests were threatening to topple the US-backed Sunni rulers.

    When Ahmed’s remains were viewed later in the morgue his body showed the signs of point-blank shooting. His back was riddled with shotgun wounds and when the morticians turned his body over, the back of his skull flopped open revealing a bloody mess and a gaping hole where the brain used to be.

    A surgeon said helplessly: “We could do nothing to save him.”

    Nearly four weeks after the arrival of the Peninsula Shield forces, the military crackdown against Bahrain’s pro-democracy movement appears to be intensifying, with Saudi troops at the forefront of the assault on mainly Shia villages and districts within the capital, Manama. Some 31 people have been killed since the uprising began on February 14, two-thirds of them since the Saudi-led forces entered the country, according to the Bahrain Centre of Human Rights. More than 20 persons remain missing. The latest victim was named yesterday as Ali Essa Sager (31), from Sihlaa, who died in detention, believed to have been tortured. Over 600 people, including politicians, doctors and lawyers, are reported to be unlawfully detained in unknown conditions – the vast majority having been arrested since the Saudi forces came to Bahrain.

    In what appears to be a further sinister twist to the repression, several Shia mosques have reportedly been attacked by Saudi forces. Pro-democracy sources say the attacks on mosques are an attempt to incite sectarian violence between Shia and Sunni communities to provide a political cover for the authorities to escalate the crackdown against the pro-democracy movement and further tighten the state of emergency that was declared on March 14.

    The Shia represent 60-70 per cent of the Bahraini population and have been most prominent in calling for a democratically elected government to replace the Sunni ruling monarchy. As well as constitutional overhaul of the Persian Gulf island state, the Shia majority also complain of decades of discrimination in jobs and housing – grievances that are all the more amplified given the oil wealth of the tiny country of some 700,000 indigenous inhabitants.

    Ahmed Farhan’s family is typical of the poor social conditions endured by many Bahrainis.

    He shared the cramped, run-down family home in Sitra with his parents, four brothers and two sisters. The four adult brothers slept in one small room. One of his sisters is married with four children, who also live in the family home. Some 50,000 Bahraini families are estimated to be on a waiting list for affordable housing, many of them waiting for over 20 years to be properly housed.

    Ahmed worked as a fisherman. He earned 80 Bahraini dinars a month ($212), which is barely enough to cover the weekly food bill for a small family.

    Bahrain’s traditional fishing industry used to be a mainstay activity sustaining many communities. But the industry has been badly hit by large-scale land reclamation projects carried out in recent years as part of the island’s economic modernisation. Some former fishing villages, such as Juffair, have now found themselves in the bizarre situation of being landlocked, surrounded by skyscrapers and five-star hotels that cater for expatriate businessmen. The land reclamation projects are blamed for destroying fishing grounds and depleting fish stocks, which have in turn led to many fishermen losing jobs or, like Ahmed, trying to eke a living from diminishing earnings.

    His close friend said: “Ahmed would often tell me how much he wanted to get married and start a family, but he couldn’t afford a house. Like many young Bahraini men, he couldn’t start a family because he was too poor,”
    He added: “Ahmed was always talking about his plans to make a better a life for himself. He was always talking about freedom. That’s why he loved the sea and fishing even though he was finding it hard to make a living. He wanted freedom for himself and for his people to have a better life. What is this? People are being killed here just because they are asking for freedom.”

    Finian Cunningham is a journalist and musician: finianpcunningham@yahoo.ie, http://www.myspace.com/finiancunninghammusic.
    He is Global Research’s Middle East Correspondent based in Manama, Bahrain

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=24252

  • ‘Bahrain Shia face sectarian cleansing’
    Mon Apr 11, 2011 10:3AM

    With the help of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain is carrying out “sectarian cleansing” against the Shia population in the Persian Gulf country, a national human rights activist says.

    “Today we are witnessing a sectarian cleansing targeting the Shia. People are being sacked from their work based on sectarian reasons. Athletes are being sacked from the clubs they play for based on their sectarian background. Students who study abroad are being brought back based on sectarian backgrounds,” said Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, in an interview with Press TV.

    “We are not talking about a Shia-Sunni dispute. There is a dispute between the Bahraini opposition — majority of them Shia — and the ruling elite, the ruling family, and not the Sunni people,” he added.

    Human Rights Watch has expressed concern over what it says are growing abuses by the Bahraini regime against its citizens.

    “Most of the people who did documentaries or interviews or spoke to TV channels like Press TV are arrested as of this moment. People are even afraid to talk to journalists or to the media, because it is very frightening,” Rajab pointed out.

    “I myself have been beaten and arrested. My house has been attacked for a second time. The CNN interviewers at my house were arrested, and they were released later because they were Americans. The situation is very dangerous,” he noted.

    The peaceful popular movement in Bahrain, that demands the ruling Al-Khalifa family to step down, has been violently cracked down on since mid-February.

    Maryam al-Khawaja, another Bahraini activist, has said that nearly 800 protesters, including at least 25 women have been so far detained in crisis-hit Bahrain.

    HSN/HJL/HRF/MMA

    http://www.presstv.ir/detail/174216.html

  • How Bahrain’s Government Is Dividing the People
    By Karen Leigh / Manama Wednesday, Apr. 13, 2011

    Liz, a Shi’ite in her late 20s, is afraid to leave her house. She says that the last time she went out, government-hired thugs stopped her car at one of the many checkpoints that litter Manama, the capital of Bahrain. They pulled her out, asked for her identity card and tried to ascertain one thing: whether she was Sunni or Shi’ite.
    “It’s pure racial profiling,” she says a few days later, sitting in her family’s living room in Al’Ali, a Shi’ite village north of Manama. “Your name could lead to your arrest if it’s a Shia name.” Her brother, an IT engineer, asks not to be named for fear of retribution. The last time he went out, thugs pulled him over, with his wife and child in the car. “They hauled me out, asked, ‘Are you Sunni or Shia?'” he says. “My dearest friend since childhood is a Sunni. Now he won’t even speak to me. He’s a former roommate, and now he treats me like a stranger.” Anytime he speaks to Sunnis now, he says, “it’s like there’s an invisible shield between us.”
    (See TIME’s exclusive photos of the crackdown in Bahrain.)
    An increasingly bitter sectarian divide is eroding the social fabric of the island kingdom, the result of a crackdown by the ruling Sunni government on Shi’ite antigovernment protesters. The government’s new, highly effective strategy of divide and rule has sought to split the country along sectarian lines, making it harder for protesters to organize a credible national opposition movement. “The most successful revolutions in the region have been in Egypt and Tunisia, and that’s because protesters have been able to unite people from different backgrounds,” says Jane Kinninmont, senior research fellow for the Middle East and North Africa Program at Chatham House. “Division in conflict is a powerful tool.”
    So far, at least 25 Shi’ites have been killed, hundreds injured and hundreds more activists, high-profile bloggers and political leaders arrested by Bahraini government forces in violent predawn raids. Opposition-party headquarters have been torched, Shi’ite citizens shot at random by security forces. The crisis has polarized the two sects — Sunnis, the wealthier ruling class, vs. Shi’ites, who comprise the 70% majority. In February, demonstrators from both groups had said they were united. “No Sunni, no Shia,” they chanted. They waved banners that read, “We are one.” That unity has dissipated.
    (See pictures of government troops routing protesters from Pearl Square.)
    “The Bahraini regime has increasingly adopted an us-vs.-them attitude, seeing Shias as intent on subverting the country,” says Shadi Hamid, research director at the Brookings Doha Center and a fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy. “By repeating the same narrative over and over, more Sunnis start believing it, and more Shias feel they are being painted as enemies.” The biggest factor in the split is propaganda spread by state-controlled media, namely flagship network Bahrain TV. The regime also continues to jail opposition journalists and independent bloggers, has placed strict visa restrictions on foreign reporters and shuttered the newspaper of opposition party al-Wefaq.
    According to the opposition, Bahrain TV’s tactics include the false planting of guns and knives at protesters’ feet. Medical staffers at Salmaniya Hospital, which was for a time under military control, told TIME that station crews had allowed a doctor to leave, filmed his happy exit, then beat and sent him back inside the emergency room. “Bahrain TV is playing with fire by taking the lead of creating sectarian conflict between the two denominations,” says one opposition leader, asking to remain anonymous. On March 22, in the first demonstration on the streets of Manama since martial law was declared the week before, protesters added a new chant to their usual repertoire calling for the toppling of the Bahraini King, “Down with Bahrain TV.”
    (See “Has Bahrain’s Opposition Thrown In the Towel?”)
    Across the island a few days before the rally, in the Sunni community of Galali, the streets were peaceful and devoid of police, in contrast to the gun-toting checkpoints around Shi’ite communities. Najah, a Sunni, was driving in her new red sport-utility vehicle. She spoke of the protesters with vitriol, saying she had heard on Bahrain TV that they were attacking riot police with guns and knives. “Before we lived, ate and worked together,” she said of Sunnis and Shi’ites. “We want to live in peace. Everyone’s asking why the Shi’ites are doing this to our country. We’re scared.” She was parked in front of a community center whose garden, bystanders said, was normally filled in evenings by Sunnis and Shi’ites, who gather to talk and smoke shisha. It’s been empty for weeks.
    Hasan Ali Ashifi, a retired airport engineer, spoke in front of a leafy villa in Amwaj Islands, a wealthy area largely populated by Sunnis and expatriates and physically a world away from the beleaguered Shi’ite villages across the causeway. He said he and other Sunnis had stopped supporting the protests when they went beyond the original demands of democratic reform and started calling for the King’s ouster. “We supported the original protests when they wanted housing and education,” he said. “Sunnis want that too. But we don’t want to take out the whole government. And we don’t want them using violence.”

    http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2064934,00.html

  • 11 April 2011

    Bahrain unrest: Torture fears as activists die in jail

    Relatives of Ali Issa Saqer mourn during his funeral in Manama

    Bahrain Protests

    Two Bahraini Shia activists who were detained after weeks of anti-government protests have died in police custody.

    The interior ministry said Ali Issa Saqer, 31, had died when guards tried to restrain him for “causing chaos”.

    Another detainee, Zakaraya Rashed Hassan, 40, had died of sickle cell disease, the ministry added. It was the second such death in a week.

    Several Shia activists have complained of being tortured while in custody. The government denies the allegations.

    (Warning: Towards the end of the story, there is a photograph of Mr Saqer’s body which viewers may find disturbing).

    Bahrain imposed emergency rule last month after weeks of anti-government protests in the tiny Gulf kingdom, where the Sunni monarchy is accused of discrimination against the Shia majority.

    The authorities used force to put down the protests, which have left more than 25 people dead.

    Rights groups say the government has since detained more than 400 people – including human rights activists, doctors, bloggers and opposition supporters.

    ‘Lash marks’
    The interior ministry said Mr Saqer was injured while resisting guards’ attempts to restrain him. He later died in a hospital.

    Continue reading the main story

    Photos taken before his burial showed criss-cross purple lash marks all over his back. His legs were also badly bruised, and his toes and feet were covered in purple bruises.

    There was a big bruise on the left side of his head and possible burn marks on his ankles and wrists, said Daniel Williams, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch (HRW), who viewed the body as it was being prepared for burial.

    “This looked much worse than anything I’ve seen,” Mr Williams said, referring to other cases in Bahrain of apparent lash marks seen on the backs of people detained at checkpoints.

    Mr Saqer was arrested on 13 March for the attempted murder of a policeman, the ministry said. The government denies any torture but says all such accusations will be investigated.

    It said the other detainee, Mr Hassan, had been “found dead” in his cell. A post-mortem said he died of complications from sickle-cell anaemia.

    Mr Hassan was detained on 2 April on charges of “inciting hatred, publishing false news, promoting sectarianism and calling for the overthrow of the regime” on social networking sites, the interior ministry said.

    HRW said both the families of the men who died of sickle-cell disease, according to official records, had dismissed the findings.

    “It is extremely scary that in all three cases of the deaths last week, the families only heard about their loved ones when they were dead,” Mr Williams told the BBC.

    HRW has called for an investigation into all suspected cases of abuse, and stressed that all detainees must be given access to lawyers and their families.

    Campaign of fear
    In the two most recent cases, Bahraini activists say the men were abused physically and mentally, and may have died as a result.

    “We believed they killed them in prison,” said Nabeel Rajab of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights.

    Human Rights Watch has called for Mr Saqer’s death to be investigated
    On Monday, the authorities accused Mr Rajab of publishing fabricated images on the internet and summoned him for questioning.

    Meanwhile, the former chief editor of Bahrain’s main opposition newspaper – al-Wasat – said he too had been summoned by a prosecutor investigating the paper’s allegedly unethical coverage of the uprising.

    The latest moves come two days after a leading opposition figure and rights activist, Abdul Hadi al-Khawaja, was beaten up and arrested in the capital, Manama.

    The unrest started on 14 February, when Shia protesters – emboldened by uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt – took to the streets urging democratic reform. Some called for the overthrow of the monarchy.

    Weeks of protests prompted the Sunni-led government to impose martial law and invite in troops from Sunni-ruled neighbours such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

    Since then the Bahrain government – a key US ally in the region – has launched a crackdown against opposition activists, journalists and doctors.

    It accuses Iran of fomenting the unrest – which Tehran denies.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-13033288

  • Amy Goodman: U.S.-backed bloodshed stains Bahrain’s Arab spring

    AMY GOODMAN | national columnist | No Comments Posted | Posted: Thursday, April 14, 2011 6:15 am

    Three days after Hosni Mubarak resigned as the long-standing dictator in Egypt, people in the small Persian Gulf state of Bahrain took to the streets, marching to their version of Tahrir, Pearl Square, in the capital city of Manama. Bahrain has been ruled by the same family, the House of Khalifa, since the 1780s — more than 220 years. Bahrainis were not demanding an end to the monarchy, but for more representation in their government.

    One month into the uprising, Saudi Arabia sent military and police forces over the 16-mile causeway that connects the Saudi mainland to Bahrain, an island. Since then, the protesters, the press and human rights organizations have suffered increasingly violent repression.

    One courageous young Bahraini pro-democracy activist, Zainab al-Khawaja, has seen the brutality up close. To her horror, she watched her father, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, a prominent human rights activist, be beaten and arrested. She described it to me from Manama:

    “Security forces attacked my home. They came in without prior warning. They broke down the building door, and they broke down our apartment door, and instantly attacked my father, without giving him a chance to speak and without giving any reason for his arrest. They dragged my father down the stairs and started beating him in front of me. They beat him until he was unconscious. The last thing I heard my father say was that he couldn’t breathe. When I tried to intervene, when I tried to tell them, ‘Please to stop beating him. He will go with you voluntarily. You don’t need to beat him this way,’ they told me to shut up, basically, and they grabbed me … and dragged me up the stairs back into the apartment. By the time I had gotten out of the room again, the only trace of my father was his blood on the stairs.”

    Human Rights Watch has called for the immediate release of al-Khawaja. Zainab’s husband and brother-in-law also have been arrested. Tweeting as “angryarabiya,” she has commenced a water-only fast in protest. She also has written a letter to President Barack Obama: “If anything happens to my father, my husband, my uncle, my brother-in-law, or to me, I hold you just as responsible as the AlKhalifa regime. Your support for this monarchy makes your government a partner in crime. I still have hope that you will realize that freedom and human rights mean as much to a Bahraini person as it does to an American.”

    Obama condemned the Gadhafi government in his speech justifying the recent military attacks in Libya, saying: “Innocent people were targeted for killing. Hospitals and ambulances were attacked. Journalists were arrested.” Now that the same things are happening in Bahrain, Obama has little to say.

    As with the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, the sentiment is nationalist, not religious. The country is 70 percent Shia, ruled by the Sunni minority. Nevertheless, a central rallying cry of the protests has been “Not Shia, Not Sunni: Bahraini.” This debunks the argument used by the Bahraini government that the current regime is the best bulwark against increased influence of Iran, a Shia country, in the oil-rich Gulf. Add to that Bahrain’s strategic role: It is where the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet is based, tasked with protecting “U.S. interests” like the Strait of Hormuz and the Suez Canal, and supporting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Surely, U.S. interests include supporting democracy over despots.

    Nabeel Rajab is the president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights — the organization formerly run by the recently abducted Abdulhadi al-Khawaja. Rajab is facing a possible military trial for publishing the photograph of a protester who died in custody. Rajab told me: “Hundreds of people are in jail for practicing their freedom of expression. People are tortured for expressing their freedom of expression. Thousands of people sacked from their jobs. … And all that, because one day, a month ago, almost half of the Bahraini population came out in the street demanding democracy and respect for human rights.”

    Rajab noted that democracy in Bahrain would lead to democracy in neighboring Gulf dictatorships, especially Saudi Arabia, so most regional governments have a stake in crushing the protests. Saudi Arabia is well-positioned for the task, as the recent beneficiary of the largest arms deal in U.S. history. Despite the threats, Rajab was resolute: “As far as I’m breathing, as far as I’m alive, I am going to continue. I believe in change. I believe in democracy. I believe in human rights. I’m willing to give my life. I’m willing to give anything to achieve this goal.”

    Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” an international news hour airing on 800 stations, including WYOU cable access TV and WORT/FM 89.9 radio here. Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.

    http://host.madison.com/news/opinion/column/article_c105a06d-9434-5909-b414-b0eb3dd1525a.html

  • Bahrain opposition figure ‘dies in custody’
    Officials yet to confirm Kareem Fakhrawi’s reported death – the fourth such case in recent days in the Arab Gulf state.
    Last Modified: 13 Apr 2011 04:03
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    Opposition groups say more than 400 people have been arrested since Bahrain began a crackdown [GALLO/GETTY]
    A Bahraini businessman who was a member of the country’s leading Shia Muslim opposition group, Wefaq, has died in police custody, sources say.

    There was no immediate reaction by state media to Kareem Fakhrawi’s reported death and officials in the Arab Gulf kingdom were not available to comment.

    Fakhrawi’s was the fourth known death in police custody in recent days. Bahrain’s government denies there is torture in Bahrain and says all such allegations will be investigated.

    Mattar Mattar, a member of Wefaq, said Fakhrawi had died in police custody a week after he never returned home from a police station where he had tried to complain about his house being demolished by police.

    “Either he was sick and didn’t receive treatment or was tortured,” Mattar said.

    Wefaq said on Tuesday three Shia Muslim doctors and several staff from the education ministry had been arrested the day before, bringing the total number of detainees to 453.

    “After these problems, many are afraid to contact us,” Mattar said. “I estimate the real number is not less than 600. That’s one in every 1,000 Bahrainis.”

    Bahrain says it has released 86 people held under martial law while “legal measures” are being taken against other detainees.

    Hunger strike

    In another development, the daughter of a prominent Bahraini activist has begun a hunger strike in protest over the arrest of her father, husband, brother-in-law and uncle.

    Zainab Al-Khawaja said on Monday that she would refuse food until her father Abdulhadi, who she said was beaten unconscious before being taken away, and other relatives were released.

    Her father Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, a former president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, an outspoken opposition organisation.

    “I’m planning on doing this until the release of my four family members,” Zainab Al-Khawaja told Al Jazeera from Manama via Skype on Wednesday.

    Three of the men were detained following a police sweep on Zainab’s house over the weekend, while her uncle was arrested three weeks ago.

    The masked men who beat and arrested her family members were special security forces, she said, identifiable by their black uniforms.

    Zainab al-Khawaja announced her hunger strike in a letter addressed to Barack Obama, the US president, posted on her blog Angry Arabiya.

    “I chose to write to you and not to my own government because the Al-Khalifa regime has proven that they do not care about our rights or our lives,” she wrote.

    “I demand the immediate release of my family members. My father: Abdulhadi al-Khawaja. My husband: Wafi Almajed. My brother-in-law: Hussein Ahmed. My uncle: Salah al-Khawaja.”

    The US, whose Fifth Fleet is stationed in Bahrain, has offered only muted criticism of the government crackdown and analysts say it refrained from pressing Bahrain due to anxieties over interference from its rival Iran, just across the Gulf.

    “If it wasn’t for the American support [for the regime], I think the Bahraini people would have been much more successful in their call for democracy,” she said on Wednesday.

    Zainab al-Khawaja’s announcement marks the first time an activist has gone on hunger strike since the Bahraini government began its crackdown on protesters on March 16.

    Weeks of protests

    Bahrain’s Sunni Muslim rulers quelled weeks of protests led by mostly Shia demonstrators by deploying security forces throughout the capital, Manama, and calling in troops from neighbouring Sunni-led Gulf Arab states, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

    Bahrain has also put two Iranians and a Bahraini on trial on charges of spying for the Revolutionary Guards, a key component of the Iranian government’s security apparatus.

    “They are accused of contacts with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard to give them military and economic information from 2002 to April 2010 … with the intention of damaging the national interest,” the Bahrain News Agency said.

    http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/04/201141220154357546.html

  • Police State Terror in Bahrain

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    Police State Terror in Bahrain – by Stephen Lendman

    Last summer sporadic protests began. By mid-February, major ones erupted. Demonstrators held firm against King Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa’s regime. Repression and several deaths were reported from live fire.

    Anti-government protesters occupied Manama’s Pearl Roundabout, Bahrain’s equivalent of Cairo’s Tahrir Square. They demanded democratic elections, ending sectarian discrimination favoring Sunnis over Shias, equitable distribution of the country’s oil wealth, and resignation of the king’s uncle, Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa, prime minister since 1971. They also want political prisoners released and state terror ended.

    For weeks, many thousands defied government demands, braving police attacks with tear gas, beatings, rubber bullets, live fire, arrests, torture, and disappearances.

    On February 14, Canada’s National Post writer Peter Goodspeed headlined, “Trouble in tiny Bahrain (population 1.2 million) carries big implications,” saying:

    If Bahrain becomes democratic, people throughout the region will be inspired to demand it. As a result, “the ramifications for US foreign policy could be severe. Bahrain is home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet,” the Pentagon “station(ing) 15 warships, including an aircraft battle group, in the very heart of the Persian Gulf.”

    “The island state off the coast of Saudi Arabia provides Washington with a perfect base from which it can protect the (region’s) flow of oil, keep an eye on Iran and support pro-Western monarchies against potential threats.”

    On March 14, fearing uprisings against their own regimes, over 1,500 Saudi Arabia-led Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) military and police security forces invaded Bahrain guns blazing. They attacked peaceful protesters, arrested opposition leaders and activists, occupied the country, denied wounded men and women medical treatment, and imposed police state control in support of the hated monarchy.

    The Obama administration was very instrumental in their coming, to prevent the possibility of emerging democracy in Bahrain or elsewhere in the region.

    News of the intervention, however, brought larger crowds to the streets. They occupied the Pearl Roundabout, set up barricades against vicious attacks, and persisted against fierce repression.

    On April 1, Bahrain’s al-Wefaq party, its largest anti-government opposition, claimed security forces arrested over 300 protesters since mid-March, dozens still missing. Prominent blogger, Mahmoud al-Youssef, was among the disappeared, taken into custody on March 30.

    Tanks were positioned at prominent sites. Police checkpoints were set up throughout the country. Unidentified gangs, believed to be plainclothes security forces, conducted nighttime raids on homes in poor Shiite neighborhoods. Residents reported assaults and confiscations of their property.

    In short order, Pearl Roundabout protesters were violently routed. Since mid-February, perhaps dozens were killed, hundreds injured, and many more arrested, tortured, and disappeared.

    Bahrain Human Rights Center (BHRC) head Nabeel Rajab said several dozen masked men raided his home in mid-March, “threaten(ing) to rape me and one man was touching my body. They hit me with shoes and punched me with fists. They were insulting me, saying things like, ‘You’re Shiite so go back to Iran.’ ”

    Blindfolded and arrested, he was beaten for two hours, then released. Another gang returned a few days later, threatening him and journalists present at the time. Extreme repression quelled protests and strikes, but anti-regime opposition persists. One man fired from his teaching job said:

    “We cannot stop. We might go quiet for a bit to mourn the dead and treat the injured and see those in jail, but then we will rise up again.”

    Journalists were also threatened, including the country’s only opposition newspaper, Al-Wasat, shut down in late March to silence it. The Bahrain News Agency called its coverage “unethical” for reporting accurately on government repression. Its editor and co-owner, Mansoor al-Jamri, said it was an attempt to suppress independent news, explaining:

    “There is now no other voice but that of the state. The news blackout is so intense.” Its print and online editions are now closed to prevent vital information from being published.

    Bahraini state terror got so extreme even The New York Times took note in its “Bahrain News – The Protests (2011)” section. On April 7, it said:

    “Bahrain has taken on the likeness of a police state. There have been mass arrests, mass firings of government workers, reports of torture and the forced resignation of the top editor of the nation’s one independent newspaper.”

    Moreover, emergency law provisions let security forces search buildings and homes with no warrant, as well as “dissolve any organization, including legal political parties, deemed a danger to the state.”

    On April 6, writer Clifford Krauss headlined, “Bahrain’s Rulers Tighten Their Grip on Battered Opposition,” saying:

    “The intensity of the repression is pushing some toward militancy, while others are holding back, at least for now.” Earlier mass demonstrations dwindled to smaller ones and marches, many outside Manama in villages like Saar and Shahrakkan.

    Two released political prisoners said detainees are being tortured with electric shocks, beatings, sexual abuse, and other indignities. According to Human Rights Watch (HRW) researcher Dan Williams:

    “They are leaving no oppressive stone unturned. They enter homes of people already detained and ransack (them). They are keeping people in detention with limited (or no) access to their lawyers and families.”

    On April 12, Krauss headlined, “Hospital Is Drawn Into Bahrain Strife,” saying:

    Masked soldiers “guard the front gate of Salmaniya Medical Complex. Inside clinics are virtually empty of patients, many of whom, doctors say, have been hauled away for detention after participating in protests.”

    Doctors, nurses, and other medical staff have also been arrested, officials calling Salmaniya (Bahrain’s largest public hospital) and local clinics hotbeds of “radical Shiite conspirators trying to destabilize the country.”

    Doctors, however, say Salmaniya and other medical facilities have been targeted by state terror. As a result, sick and injured Bahrainis have nowhere to go for treatment.

    The Obama administration steadfastly supports the Al-Khalifa regime and other regional despots, saying practically nothing about their abuses, no matter how extreme, while pretending to support democratic change in Libya.

    On April 11, a Washington Post editorial expressed concern headlining, “The US silence on Bahrain’s crackdown,” saying:

    While condemning human rights abuses in Libya and bloody crackdowns in Syria, “the president and his administration remain mostly silent about another ugly campaign of repression underway in the Arab world, in the Persian Gulf emirate of Bahrain.”

    However, instead of denouncing it, WP called it “counterproductive (and) likely to foment the very problem that its advocates seek to prevent: a sectarian uprising in the region that could be exploited by Iran.”

    “Worse, Defense Secretary (Gates) appeared to bolster the (Saudi intervention) during a visit last week to Riyadh, saying that ‘we already have evidence that the Iranians are trying to exploit the situation in Bahrain.’ ”

    At the same time, the Bahrain News Agency (BNA) said US CENTCOM head General James Mattis and US deputy chief of mission Stephanie Williams met with Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, Bahrain’s crown prince and deputy supreme commander.

    According to BNA, Al-Khalifa “hailed (Washington’s) support for Bahrain’s security and stability which epitomizes strong ties bonding the two friendly countries. He also stressed the kingdom’s keenness to further promote bilateral relations and cooperation mainly in the military and defense field….Both sides also reviewed regional developments and the need to safeguard regional security and stability.”

    On April 11, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint program of the International Federation for Human Rights and World Organization Against Torture, expressed grave concern for Bahraini human rights defenders following stepped up crackdowns.

    On April 9, masked police arrested and severely beat Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, former Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) president, and two of his sons-in-law, Wafi Almajid and Hussein Ahmed, at his daughter’s home.

    Mohammad Al-Maskati, another son-in-law, as well as president of the Bahrain Society for Human Rights, was present, severely beaten, but not arrested.

    On April 10, BCHR reported over 600 arrests and disappearances, including 30 women and children, one aged 12. No information is available on their whereabouts, status or condition. Those detained include dissidents, activists, journalists, bloggers, students, teachers, doctors, lawyers, poets, artists, sculptors, photographers, political society members, and anyone for democratic change.

    On April 12, BCHR and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemned Zakariya Rashid Hassan’s death in detention, six days after he was charged with inciting hatred, disseminating false news, promoting sectarian violence, and calling for regime change. His family rejected the interior ministry’s claim that he died from sickle cell anemia complications. His body showed clear signs of abuse.

    BCHR and RSF also expressed concern for Nabeel Rajab, BCHR head, accused of fabricating photo evidence of injuries to Ali Isa Saqer, another detainee who died in custody, clearly from abuse.

    On March 28, general decree Decision No. 5 of 2011 prohibited publication of any information relating to ongoing state investigations on national security grounds. The measure reinforces others used to silence dissent and truth, especially about human rights violations.

    As a result, on April 3, charges were filed against three Al-Wasat journalists for allegedly “fabricating” news detrimental to Bahrain’s international image and reputation. Those affected include editor Mansour Al-Jamari, managing editor Walid Nouihid, and local news editor Aqil Mirza. On the same day, two Al-Wasat Iraqi journalists since 2005 were summarily deported.

    Earlier, BCHR reported children being abducted, detained, and abused, saying security crackdowns arrested 76, about one-fifth of the 355 known total at the time. It noted that “special forces attack people randomly, especially children who are at risk of excessive use of force, rubber bullets and tear gas.”

    As a result, many sustained serious injuries. Moreover, BCHR received many complaints from families of victims. One case, typical of others, involved Ali Abbas Radhi, aged 14. Running an errand for his father, he returned bloodstained, his clothes dusty, his head wounded, his body showing clear signs of abuse, including a fractured leg.

    He told BCHR that:

    “Riot police asked me to stop so I obeyed their orders, but a group of them pointed their weapons toward me which made me panic and try to flee in fear of getting killed. The riot police chased me until they caught me, and they assaulted me by beating me and kicking me with their boots or with the butts of their guns to my head and all over my body as well as cursing and insulting members of my family with dirty words.”

    Numerous other random attacks against men, women and children were and continue to be similar, many resulting in arrests, detention, torture, disappearances, and an unknown number of deaths, believed to be dozens.

    Since state crackdowns began last summer, many children as well as adults have been arrested and abused. Lucky ones were released far from home in their underwear, or in some cases naked.

    More recently, under a state of emergency, severe crackdowns continue to terrorize government opponents, subjecting anyone to arbitrary arrest, detention, torture, and disappearance any time for any reason, or none based on bogus suspicions.

    A Final Comment

    On April 12, 19 human rights organizations condemned Bahraini state terror, their joint press release saying:

    The undersigned “severely condemn the authorities’ crackdown on prominent human rights defenders….We are gravely concerned for (their) safety and well-being….”

    “Human rights organizations estimate that over 600 individuals (including human rights activists and political opponents) remain in Bahraini prisons at high risk of torture and ill-treatment. It is a particularly alarming situation given that torture is a virtually systematic practice that has been used against activists increasingly since last year.”

    In this context, we firmly believe that Bahrain’s membership in the UN Human Rights Council (should) be suspended….Furthermore, the undersigned organizations (condemn the) complicity and lack of political will from international actors, particularly the US and EU (for) turn(ing) a blind eye (to) massive and systematic human rights violations in this region of the world.”

    Signed:

    Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies

    Arab Organization for Human Rights, Syria

    Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, Egypt

    Bahrain Center for Human Rights

    Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights

    Center for Trade Unions and Workers’ Services, Egypt

    Committees for the Defense of Democracy, Freedom and Human Rights, Syria

    Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies

    Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement

    Hisham Mubarak Law Center, Egypt

    Human Rights First Society, Saudi Arabia

    Human Rights Organization in Syria, MAF

    Iraqi Human Rights Association in Denmark

    Kurdish Committee for Human Rights in Syria al-Rased

    Kurdish Organization for the Defense of Human Rights and Public Freedoms in Syria, DAD

    National Organization for Human Rights in Syria

    New Woman Research Center, Egypt

    The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights

    Yemeni Organization for Defending Rights and Democratic Freedoms

    Other human rights groups, around 1,500 NGOs, and the International Trade Union Confederation (and its 301 affiliated members in 151 countries) also denounced Bahraini state terror.

    Appealing to the international community, they called for those responsible to be held accountable. So far, daily crackdowns continue, Bahrainis still terrorized by US-backed militarized repression.

    Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at Email address removed. Also 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.

    http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/ .

    http://www.opednews.com/articles/Police-State-Terror-in-Bah-by-Stephen-Lendman-110414-293.html

  • U.S. Keeps Quiet over Repression
    By Jim Lobe*

    WASHINGTON, Apr 13, 2011 (IPS) – If President Barack Obama wanted to place Washington “on the right side of history” during the ongoing “Arab Spring”, his reaction to recent events in Bahrain will likely make that far more difficult, according to a growing number of analysts and commentators here.

    While his administration has become ever more outspoken against repression in Syria and Yemen – not to mention Libya, where Obama has called for regime change – it has remained remarkably restrained about the escalating crackdown by the Sunni monarchy against the majority Shia population and prominent pro-democracy figures.

    The strongest criticism in weeks came from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Tuesday night at the U.S.-Islamic World Forum here when she appealed for a “political process that advances the rights and aspirations of all the citizens of Bahrain” and asserted that “security alone cannot resolve the challenges” facing the government.

    More than two dozen people have been killed by security forces since the government declared martial law Mar. 15, while more than 400 others have been arrested or are otherwise unaccounted for, according to international rights groups. Three detainees have died in custody, at least one apparently from “horrific abuse”, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Tuesday.

    Last weekend, HRW accused the regime of creating a “climate of fear”, particularly in Shia neighbourhoods and villages where night-time raids appear designed mainly to instil terror among the mostly poor residents.

    Professionals, including doctors, lawyers, and human rights activists, have not been immune from the repression. Media critical of the government have been effectively muzzled, bloggers arrested, local journalists hauled into court, and foreign journalists expelled. Even star football players have been booted off the national team and arrested for taking part in peaceful protests.

    “Things are getting worse, both quantitatively and qualitatively,” according to Toby Jones, an expert on the Gulf states at Rutgers University. “It seems that across the board – from allegations of torture to reports of sweeping arrests – the regime has not just continued its crackdown, but intensified it.”

    “And while it has justified it as restoring law and order, what it seems to be doing is pursuing a vendetta; that’s the only way to explain the severity of the situation,” he added.

    At the White House, however, silence has prevailed, suggesting to many observers that Obama is effectively acquiescing in, if not condoning, what is taking place.

    That impression got a big boost when Defence Secretary Robert Gates visited Saudi Arabia last week in an apparent effort to mend ties that were badly frayed by Washington’s support for the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in February and by its initial opposition to the deployment Mar. 14 – that is, on the eve of the martial-law declaration – of some 1,500 Saudi and Emirati troops to Bahrain with the apparent intention to strengthen the resolve of King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa to crack down hard against the pro- democracy movement.

    Emerging from a meeting with King Abdullah, Gates claimed for the first time to have “evidence that the Iranians are trying to exploit the situation in Bahrain.”

    That remark stood in sharp contrast to his dismissal during his last trip to the Gulf three days before the martial law declaration of Saudi and Bahraini charges that Tehran was behind the unrest.

    Moreover, when asked whether the presence of Saudi troops to Bahrain had been discussed with the king, Gates replied with a curt “No.” The Pentagon chief also indicated Washington was not giving any thought to moving its naval base – home to the U.S. Fifth Fleet – in Bahrain anywhere else.

    Indeed, Washington’s relative silence about the repression in Bahrain appears to be motivated chiefly by two major geo- strategic considerations: maintaining its base and other military facilities in the tiny kingdom; and keeping in the good graces of its giant next-door neighbour, Saudi Arabia, which clearly sees the pro-democracy movement in Bahrain as part of a zero-sum struggle against its regional rival, Iran.

    “Bahrain is like Cuba for you,” said one member of a delegation from the Majlis al-Shura, Abdullah’s advisory council, which met with U.S. officials and think tanks here last week to explain the Saudi position on regional developments.

    “Iran is using the Shia as a tool of Persian policy,” said another. “The most important oil and petrochemical facilities in Saudi Arabia are within 60 miles of Bahrain. We have no choice,” he added.

    But that perception, and Washington’s apparent acquiescence in it, risks backfiring on a number of different levels, according to analysts here who expressed hope that this week’s trip to Saudi Arabia and the UAE by Obama’s national security adviser, Tom Donilon, will convey a very different message than that delivered by Gates’s comments last week.

    As repression intensifies and with no prospect for meaningful political reform that would given them a share of power, Bahrain’s Shia population, which makes up between 60 and 70 percent of the country’s citizenry, is being radicalised, according to Jones.

    “I don’t think we’re past the point of no return yet where the radicalisation of the Shia is permanent, but we’re not far from there,” he told IPS. “Donilon’s trip might be the moment when the White House becomes a bit more insistent, but the message needs to be delivered more urgently than it has been.”

    Beyond Bahrain, however, the crackdown and the Saudi and UAE intervention in support of it could also undermine other U.S. interests in the Gulf, notably in Iraq where key elements of the ruling coalition government and even the clerical establishment in Najaf have mobilised in support of Bahrain’s Shia community.

    The intervention “gives Iraq, newly dominated by Shiites with close ties to Iran, an excuse to make common cause with Iran in supporting Shiite insurrection in Bahrain,” retired U.S. Amb. Chas Freeman warned in a recent talk to the Asia Business Council in Riyadh.

    “Outright alliance between Baghdad and Tehran to this end would have far-reaching adverse implications for Gulf security. The strategic stakes Bahrain are higher than many outside the region appreciate,” he added.

    Finally, Washington’s failure to strongly denounce the repression and its apparent efforts to appease the Saudis undermine its pose as a champion of human rights and democracy in region, exposing it instead as a cynical player of realpolitik, according to Chris Toensing, director of the Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP).

    “There is a strong and rising current of disgust in the region at the Saudi role in the season of Arab revolts where, at every turn, they have encouraged the harshest repression possible,” he said. “And, if you look at the timing of Gates’s past two trips (to the region), people assume that the U.S. is being solicitous of its strategic partner and acquiescing in Saudi efforts to mount counter- revolutions.”

    “There’s a strong suspicion that at least tacit consent was given to the Bahrainis and Saudis to do their worst in exchange for Arab League support for the no-fly zone in Libya,” he added.

    *Jim Lobe’s blog on U.S. foreign policy can be read at http://www.lobelog.com.

    http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=55248

  • Every body crying about Bahrain…. what about Iraq, Surya and Oman… what happening with sunni women and children…? in Bahrain govt or forces only kill protesters… but in Iraq and Surya shia forces are attacking upon the houses of sunni Muslims and killing their children kidnapping and raping their womens and doing all sorts of brutality….. and Iran is sporting all these massacre… what u people say about this????????

  • @Khurram

    Please write a post on alleged Shia brutalities against Sunnis of Iraq and Surya based on evidence (HRW, Amnesty International, international media etc) not conjecture. We will be very pleased to publish that.

  • @Khurram,

    Re: Iraq
    Iraq’s Sunni minority brutally ruled over Shia majority for around seven decades, once they were toppled and as per democratic norms majority came into power they (Sunnis) started terrorism with the help of Saudi Arab …… will you please tell us who’s been bombing (suicide) mosques and shrines in Iraq ???
    What do you expect majority to re-act ???
    Suppose Shias in Pakistan (who are around 15-20%) start bombing mosques of Sunnis, how would Sunnis re-act ???

    Re:Syria,

    Ruling Asad family is not Shia rather they are Baathists Allawi’ites, unlike Saddam Hussain (who brutally suppressed and even massacred Shia majority of Iraq), Asad family is equally supported by majority Sunnis and minority Allawi’ites ….. though I believe there should be democracy in Syria and masses should be given right to choose their representatives !

  • such a relief to read this post – the blogosphere has been inundated with faux concern posts that rage over how innocent pakistanis are being killed in bahrain. refreshing to read someone interested in the facts.

    unfortunately, the situation itself remains dire, and apparently the pak army is going to be sending over its boys too if bahraini state reports are to be believed. why we act as rent-an-army shouldn’t be a surprise, but it is sad nevertheless.

  • پابندیاں یا مارشل لاء

    بحرین کی سنی عوام اور غیر ملکیوں کا کہنا ہے کہ سڑکوں پر رکاوٹیں اور سکیورٹی سے ان کو فرق نہیں پڑتا

    بحرین کے دارالحکومت مناما میں اگرچہ حکومت مخالف مظاہروں کو کچل دیا گیا ہے لیکن سنی حکمرانوں اور شیعہ اکثریتی عوام میں خلش برقرار ہے۔

    بحرین میں پچھلے ماہ مظاہرین کے حوالے سے حکمرانوں کی قوتِ برداشت ختم ہوئی تو انہوں نے قومی سکیورٹی کے نام پر پابندیاں عائد کیں۔ لیکن ان پابندیوں کا دوسرا نام مارشل لاء ہے۔

    بی بی سی کے فرینک گارڈنر کے مطابق ملک بھر میں پولیس چیک پوسٹیں ہیں، ٹینک جگہ جگہ کھڑے ہیں، رات بارہ بجے سے صبح تک کرفیو نافذ رہتا ہے اور خلیجی ممالک سے ایک ہزار فوجی اور پولیس حساس تنصیبات پر تعینات ہیں۔

    بحرین کی سنی عوام اور غیر ملکیوں کا کہنا ہے کہ سڑکوں پر رکاوٹیں اور سکیورٹی سے ان کو فرق نہیں پڑتا۔

    لیکن شیعہ مسلک سے تعلق رکھنے والے افراد اس بات سے متفق نہیں ہیں۔

    مناما کے جنوبی نواحی علاقے میں حراست میں ہلاک ہونے والے ایک شخص کے جنازے میں ایک بڑی تعداد شامل تھی۔ علی عیسیٰ پر الزام تھا کہ اس نے مظاہروں کے دوران اپنی گاڑی سے پولیس اہلکار کو کچلنے کی کوشش کی۔ لیکن جب اس کے خاندان والوں کو دھمکایا گیا تو اس نے اپنے آپ کو پولیس کے حوالے کردیا۔

    چھ روز بعد علی عیسیٰ کی حراست میں ہلاکت ہوگئی۔ پولیس کا کہنا ہے کہ وہ جیل اہلکاروں کے ساتھ لڑا تھا جس کے دوران اس کی ہلاکت ہوئی۔

    اس کی لاش دیکھ کر اس کا خاندان غم سے نڈھال ہو گیا۔ علی کے پورے جسم پر تشدد کے نشانات تھے۔

    پچھلے چند دنوں میں سکیورٹی اہلکاروں نے شیعہ آبادی کو ڈرانا دھمکانا شروع کردیا ہے۔

    جب اس واقعے کا ذکر وزیر صحت اور وزیر برائے انسانی حقوق ڈاکٹر فاطمہ سے کیا گیا تو ان کو پہلا موقف تھا کہ اپوزیشن کہانیاں گھڑتے ہیں۔ لیکن جب ان کو یہ بتایا گیا کہ جنازہ ہوا ہے اور جسم پر تشدد کے نشانات دیکھے ہیں تو انہوں نے تحقیق کرانے کا وعدہ کیا۔

    بین الاقوامی انسانی حقوق کی تنظیم ہیومن رائٹس تنظیم کے ڈینیئل ویلیئمز کا کہنا ہے ’اگر علی عیسیٰ کی موت ٹریفک حادثے میں ہوتی تو اس کے جسم پر اتنے نشانات نہ ہوتے جتنے ابھی ہیں۔‘

    اگرچہ اپوزیشن کئی بار مغالطے سے کام لیتی ہے جیسے کے انہوں نے کہا کہ ان پر ہیلی کاپٹر سے فائرنگ کی گئی۔ لیکن اس کے علاوہ حزبِ اختلاف واقعی متاثر ہو رہی ہے۔

    پچھلے چند دنوں میں سکیورٹی اہلکاروں نے ان کو ڈرانا دھمکانا شروع کردیا ہے۔ رات گئے سکیورٹی اہلکار گھروں میں گھس جاتے ہیں اور سارے خاندان کے سامنے چند لوگوں پر تشدد کرتے ہیں اور پھر گھسیٹتے ہوئے اپنے ساتھ لے جاتے ہیں۔ اور خاندان والوں کو کچھ معلوم نہیں ہوتا اور نہ ہی بتایا جاتا ہے کہ اس افراد کو کہاں لے جایا گیا ہے۔

    اطلاعات کے مطابق اس سال 400 سو افراد کو حراست میں لیا گیا ہے۔ اور چار افراد کی ہلاکت حراست میں ہوئی ہے۔ اور اسی لیے شیعہ آبادی میں بےچینی پائی جاتی ہے۔

    ایک سفارتکار کا کہنا ہے ’بے روزگار اور مشتعل طبقے کو دشمن بنانا عقلمندی نہیں ہے۔‘

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/world/2011/04/110415_bahrain_kingdom_divide_rh.shtml

  • @abbas rizivi you yourself shiate how come you can do justice to sunnis, shiate can’t hide anymore under cover of liberalism 100% of shiate bow towards iran the dream of shiate crescent wont be fulfilled about pakistanis any bahraini shia or sunni go against pakistanis will cut them in pieces it should be clear to all zulifaqar ali bhutto and zardari commited many crimes against baloch with help of shah and ahmed e nejad ill stand next to jew if they attack brutal regime of iran they hanging 1000s of innocent humman beings in iran why cant mr ram write about them this hidden agenda is not hidden anymore

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  • Insha’Allah, Very soon, the monarchy of Bahraini King will be toppled by a Civil-War by the youngster Shiite of Bahraini, Killing the Bahraini King and top Govt. seater is only optioN!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Hahaha I am a Bahraini with Pak India origins and can say easily this writ.er is a bigot n his article a joke about what went in Bahrain against Pakistanis and the real true story….

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