Posts tagged ‘البحرين’

August 23, 2018

For the Bahrainis, Bahrain was Never Independent

by mkleit

Bahrain is passing through what is called in the Arab state as “the week of independence”, where several celebrations occur there in memory of the departure of the British mandate on the 16th of August 1971, yet for the Bahrainis, independence isn’t solely about getting rid of the “White man”, especially with the on-going protests calling for regime change still taking place since 2011.

Bahrain is the smallest Arab state in the Middle East and North African region; it’s situated between the shores of Saudi Arabia and its rival Iran as an archipelago, an extremely strategic one considering its great oil resources that made this small monarchy influential on the world stage.

 

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Bahrain is the smallest Arab state, located in the Persian gulf between two Middle Eastern superpowers Iran and Saudi Arabia

 

 

Like their cousins to the West, the Saudis, the Bahraini monarchs are keen to impose stability to their regime and state, even if it means imprisoning opposition leaders and activists, prosecuting journalists and banning foreign media outlets from entering the country, or lobbying in international conferences and gatherings against their own people, and here the people are the ones who demand regime change.

On the 14th of February 2011, during the globally known “Arab Spring” uprisings, more than half of the 1.4 million Bahrainis took the streets to demand democratic and regime change, as well as socio-economic reforms that include giving just rights for the Shia majority in the country, which make up around 60% of the general dominant Muslim population there.

 

Infograph about Human Rights violations in Bahrain during the month of April 2018 (Arabic)

The Khalifa monarchy that’s ruling Bahrain nowadays has ascended the throne since 1783 during what was called the “Hakimmiyah” era of rule, where Ahmad bin Mohamad bin Khalifa took control of the oil-rich island. It was then transformed to an Emirate rule in 1971, and then a Kingdom in 2002; with all these years being ruled by solely one family, the Khalifas.

Though the current protests (that erupted in 2011) are not the first ones against the monarchy in Bahrain, yet they have taken the fight to a global stage, where several countries and international organizations have condemned the treatment of detainees and oppression of protests in Bahrain, that the opposition has been maintaining peaceful ones so far.

 

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Banner lifted during protest in London against Bahraini authorities’ murder of activists

 

 

The authorities and security personnel, most of whom are non-Bahrainis, with the help of Saudi forces known as “Jazira Shield”, have been brutally detaining activists and journalists like Nabeel Rajab who denounced the Saudi-led war on Yemen on Twitter, imprisoning opposition leaders such as religious cleric Ali Salman, head of al Wifaq organization, which is a prominent opposition front, as well as imposing a siege on Diraz town for over a year after locals blocked the way in front of security forces who wanted to apprehend the Shia’s of Bahraini’s “Pope” Sheikh Issa Kassem.

The siege has rendered Diraz scarce of water supplies and food. It was missing from the world map after several internet blackouts to ban besieged citizens from communicating with the outside world. Above all that, the 81 years old leading Shia cleric’s health deteriorated due to several ailments, while the authorities turned a blind eye to his predicament.

 

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Banner during protest in London against the prosecution of prominent Shia cleric Issa Kassem

 

After several negotiations and the interference of humanitarian parties and international players, Sheikh Kassem was moved to a hospital in London to receive treatment; yet his case was one of thousands of cases where the Bahraini authorities deny those who oppose it the needed medical attention, especially those who are imprisoned there.

One recent example is Hasan Moushayme’, a leading opposition activist in Bahrain in his 70’s, suffering from diabetes and other illnesses, and has been imprisoned for months without receiving proper medical treatment. His son, Ali, has been going through a hunger strike for the past three weeks, demanding proper medical treatment for his father and all of the detainees in Bahraini prisons.

 

 

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Banner during a protest in Bahrain pleaing for the aid of prominent activist Hasan Moushayme’

 

Ali has been attacked by an unknown individual while sleeping during his sit-in in front of the Bahraini embassy in London, and has been witnessing several attempts to bar him from continuing his strike, that also demands granting the detainees their legal and humanitarian rights.

 

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London-based Bahraini activist Ali Moushayme’ during his first days of hunger strike in front of Bahraini embassy in London, demanding medical care to his father and thousands of other prisoners in Bahraini detention centers

 

With all this going on, the UK has been granting “legitimacy” to all of Bahrain’s actions against its citizens proceeding in security training programs and opening a military base in the Arab island. The UK has not condemned the assaults on activists and journalists in Bahrain ever since the uprising erupted in 2011, but money and interest speak louder than human rights violations.

 

 

 

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