Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The struggle in Bahrain continues

Children in Sitra, Bahrain pass wall posters denouncing David Cameron & Barack Obama as criminals. On the lower right of Cameron’s mug shot is a photo of John Yates, a corrupt UK cop famous for his use of wire-tapping & police surveillance. On the lower right of Obama’s mug shot is a photo of John Timoney, a US cop notorious for militarized methods against peaceful protestors, including use of rubber bullets, Tasers, concussion grenades, pepper spray, tear gas, electrified riot shields, baton charges, & police agents. 

Late last year, an international commission found Bahrain’s police & military used excessive force, torture, summary execution, & countless other violations of human rights to crush the democracy movement. Hamad al-Khalifa, the hereditary dictator, publicly swore to reform police & military to conform to “international standards” & (in an act of colossal hypocrisy) he hired Yates & Timoney to oversee the reform. The US & UK have both been involved in Bahraini military & intelligence training for decades (including training Saudi national guards deployed in force against protestors in Bahrain last spring). Along with Yates, a team from Scotland Yard is training & directing the al-Khalifa police force. The UK has a long history of orchestrating police violence in Bahrain--from 1966 to 1998, Ian Henderson, a former British colonial officer led Bahrain’s secret police, gaining the sobriquet, “Butcher of Bahrain” because of the extreme kinds of torture used against thousands of dissidents, including children. Repeated calls for the UK to prosecute Henderson under international law have been ignored because of Britain’s close ties with the Bahraini dictatorship. Both the US & UK have economic, political, military, & strategic interests in Bahrain which conflict with the democratic needs of the Bahraini people.

The US & UK are not just providing thugs to train death squads but are exporting arms to the Bahraini regime which is conducting an all-out war against the democracy movement--& is by no means trying to reform the police. None of the recommendations of the international commission to address the extensive human rights violations are implemented. US & UK support & complicity has emboldened the regime to escalate violence & repression; they use special force units to target & round up human rights activists; death squads; torture, beatings, kidnappings, disappearances (including of children); indiscriminate but methodical use of tear gas in residential areas (termed “carpet gassing”) resulting in maiming, blinding, deaths; incarceration; house raids; road check points for routine stops, searches, & intimidation. 

The Bahraini revolution nevertheless continues unabated with protests every day all over the country. It is a massive, deep, fearless rebellion--no matter how persistently western media ignores it. Yates insists criminals are attacking unarmed police & claims kettling would work really well in Bahrain in the face of such “wanton damage” & vandalism. Timoney & the regime claim the repression is necessary because protests were making traffic difficult. They may be the only case where the “banality of evil” is a suitable expression. When the protestors made the mug shots of Cameron & Obama prominent over that of the henchmen, Yates & Timoney, they have the relationship exactly right. This butchery of the democratic movement in Bahrain is the primary responsibility of the US & UK regimes. Our fullest solidarity with the people of Bahrain in their struggle against tyranny.  (Photo by Hasan Jamali/AP)

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