The Campaign for Peace and Democracy / The Nation & Agence France-Presse – 2011-06-17 00:43:07
JOIN THE MORE THAN 1500 SIGNERS FROM THE UNITED STATES, BAHRAIN, AND AROUND THE WORLD
Click here to sign the statement.
“End US Support for Bahrain’s Repressive Government”
published in The NationÂ¸ on The New York Review of Books website, and elsewhere in the US, has been signed so far by more than 1,800 individuals, including hundreds of brave Bahrainis. It is being sent to President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton, and key members of Congress.
STATEMENT BY THE CAMPAIGN FOR PEACE AND DEMOCRACY
This statement was written following President Obama’s May 19 speech, in which he criticized Bahrainâ€™s rulers but also called them “partners” and “friends,” signaling that their massive human rights violations would not stand in the way of continuing US support or the presence of the Fifth Fleet. What is needed is not toothless reprimands, but a clear break with the Al Khalifa regime. We are deeply moved by the hundreds of Bahrainis who bravely added their names. Please join them.
(June 16, 2011) — On February 13, 2011, inspired by the forced resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, peaceful democratic protests erupted in Bahrain. Protests grew and, in response, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa invited other Gulf states to send security forces into the country to assist in violently suppressing the demonstrators.
The March 15 invasion by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates brought an intensification of torture, secret trials, demolition of Shia mosques, and repression against human rights activists, journalists, labor, lawyers, medical professionals, students, political figures, and others. On March 18, the regime destroyed the Pearl Monument that had served as the protest center.
Like many other autocracies in the region Bahrain has been a key US partner. It has provided a home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, responsible for naval forces in the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Arabian Sea, and the coast of East Africa as far south as Kenya. This is why Washington’s response to the vicious repression in Bahrain has been so muted and pro forma, in contrast to forceful denunciations of repression in countries outside the US orbit, such as Iran and Libya.
Richard Sollom from Physicians for Human Rights says health care workers in Bahrain have been targeted on a scale he has never encountered. Government forces have invaded hospitals; doctors have been dragged out of the operating room, abducted and detained for giving care to wounded protestors.
The government says it will try 47 medical workers it accuses, incredibly, of causing the deaths of protesters by inflicting additional wounds on them.
Hundreds of workers, including union leaders, have been fired for striking for democratic change. Security forces closed down the General Bahraini Federation of Trade Unions headquarters.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights writes, “Bahrain is currently considered a dangerous zone for the freedom of press and journalists.” On April 3, the government suspended the country’s only independent newspaper, Al Wasat. On May 2, it arrested two politicians belonging to the opposition Al Wefaq party.
Bahrain’s population is 60 percent or more Shia, with the government dominated by a Sunni minority. There is systematic discrimination against the Shiite majority in political representation, employment, wages, housing, and other benefits. The government has tried to split the opposition along Shia-Sunni lines, but uprising leaders insist their struggle for democratic rights is non-sectarian.
Zainab Alkhawaja wrote to President Obama after her father, Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, former head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, was beaten unconscious in front of his family and arrested by masked men:
“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 realize that freedom and human rights mean as much to a Bahraini person as it does to an American, Syrian or a Libyan and that regional and po- litical considerations should not be prioritized over liberty and human rights.”
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Physicians for Human Rights, the International Crisis Group and many others have exhaustively documented the brutal terror of Bahrainâ€™s government. No further evidence is needed. As long as the repression continues, the promise to lift the state of emergency is only an empty public relations gesture.
The United States should end all aid to Bahrain, condemn the invasion by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and sharply denounce Bahrainâ€™s horrific suppression of democratic rights.
As the Arab Spring has swept through North Africa and the Middle East, the role of the United States has been truly shameful. Washington’s rhetoric cannot conceal a deep fear of democracy. Its first instinct was to stand behind its old friends. Only when it became obvious that Ben Ali’s and Mubarak’s days were numbered were they abandoned. As for Saudi Arabia, this ultra-reactionary monarchy, with its appalling treatment of women and religious minorities, is almost never criticized by US officials.
There are those who, while deploring repression in Bahrain, justify continuing US support for that country’s brutal tyranny as “real- ism”; in a dangerous world, they argue, our security depends on having a Middle Eastern state willing to host the Fifth Fleet. This argument is profoundly mistaken. Interventionist naval forces are part of a foreign policy that, by siding with despots and pitting the United States against the Arab people’s longing for responsible government and a better way of life, guarantees endless terrorism and bloodshed and an even more dangerous world for everyone.
For good reason, democratic movements around the world today do not trust the United States, which they see as motivated by imperial interest. That is why the US desperately needs a new foreign policy, one that welcomes democratic forces — not hypocritically, in order to manipulate them and blunt their impact, but to stand in solidarity with their struggles to win political power for the people and achieve social and economic justice.
SELECTED LIST OF INITIAL SIGNERS
Ervand Abrahamian, Bashir Abu-Manneh, Mohammed Abdulnabi Al-Maskati, Michael Albert, Stanley Aronowitz, Ed Asner, Medea Benjamin, Leslie Cagan, Noam Chomsky, Marjorie Cohn, Blanche Cook, Hamid Dabashi, Gail Daneker, Bogdan Denitch, Martin Duberman, Carolyn Eisenberg, Michael Eisenscher, Daniel Ellsberg, Richard Falk, Samuel Farber, Mike Farrell, Dianne Feeley, Bill Fletcher, Jr., Barbara Garson, Irene Gendzier, Arun Gupta, Ernest Haberkern, Nader Hashemi, Chris Hedges, Bill Henning, Doug Henwood, Monadel Herzallah, Adam Hochschild, Madelyn Hoffman, Nancy Holmstrom, Doug Ireland,Toby C. Jones,Temma Kaplan, Jan Kavan, Kathy Kelly, Dan La Botz, Jesse Lemisch, Rabbi Michael Lerner, Staughton Lynd, Betty & Marvin Mandell, Dave Marsh, Scott McLemee, David McReynolds, Deborah Meier, Bitta Mostofi, Christopher Phelps, Charlotte Phillips, MD, Frances Fox Piven, Katha Pollitt, Danny Postel, Psychologists for Social Responsibility, Bill Quigley, Peter Rothberg, Matthew Rothschild, Jay Schaffner, Stephen R. Shalom, Cindy Sheehan, Alix Kates Shulman, Stephen Soldz, Bhaskar Sunkara, David Swanson, JonathanTasini, Chris Toensing, Cornel West, Sherry Wolf, Julia Wrigley and Gar Smith, co-founder, Environmentalists Against War.
Campaign for Peace and Democracy, 2790 Broadway, #12, NY, NY 10025
Bahrain to Sue The Independent for ‘Libel’
DUBAI (June 15, 2011) — Bahrain is suing British daily The Independent for alleged libel after veteran writer Robert Fisk slammed the Gulf kingdom for becoming an extension of Saudi Arabia.
The Information Affairs Authority has appointed a UK-based lawyer to sue the newspaper, the official BNA news agency reported on Tuesday, quoting the acting head of press and foreign media, Nawaf al-Maawda.
“The Independent, through unrealistic stories and provocative op-eds, especially by its writer Robert Fisk, has deliberately targeted Bahrain and the kingdom of Saudi Arabia to falsify the truth,” BNA quoted him as saying. The daily reported on Bahrain “without observing objectivity,” he charged.
Veteran Middle East correspondent Fisk wrote on Tuesday that tiny Bahrain, ruled by the Sunni Al-Khalifa dynasty has become a “confederated province of Saudi Arabia, a pocket-size weasel state from which all journalists should in future use the dateline: Manama, Occupied Bahrain.”
Fisk charged that Saudi-led Gulf troops did not wait for a Bahraini invitation when they rolled into Bahrain on the eve of a crackdown on month-long protests demanding democratic change.
“The Saudis are now running the country. They never received an invitation to send their own soldiers to support the Bahraini ‘security forces’ from the Bahraini Crown Prince, who is a decent man,” he wrote. “They simply invaded and received a post-dated invitation.”
Fisk also slammed a semi-martial court trying dozens of medics from the Shiite majority, who are accused of backing demonstrations and of exaggerating the gravity of protesters’ wounds in front of TV cameras.
“These are the very same doctors and nurses I stood beside four months ago in the Salmaniya emergency room, some of them weeping as they tried to deal with gunshot wounds the like of which they had never seen before,” he wrote.
Bahraini authorities came under strong criticism from international rights groups for the heavy-handed clampdown on Shiite protesters.
Some 24 people were killed in the unrest, mainly protesters, while hundreds were arrested and some 2,000 allegedly dismissed from their jobs in an unprecedented repression of the Shiite majority community.
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