Friday, January 18, 2013

Mourning & defiance in Bahrain

The Bahraini revolution 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. Here women in Malikiyah, Bahrain show their defiance as they mourn an 88-year-old man who died from respiratory illness caused by tear gas inhalation at a 2012 protest.

The “lesser evil” Obama administration & the UK government continue to stand by the murderous regime with sales of armaments, combat vehicles, combat helicopters, communications equipment, & a missile system. Both countries play a training role in the use of death squads & military equipment. A team from Scotland Yard is training & directing the al-Khalifa police force. And of course, without doubt the CIA is there training torturers. The US & UK claim the weaponry is for Bahrain’s external defense but Bahrain is not a country under military siege by outside armies (unless you count the occupation by the US Fifth Fleet); it is a regime conducting an all-out war against it’s own people.

US & UK support 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.

After an international commission (in late 2011) 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, pledged to reform police & military to conform to “international standards”--by which he must have meant the standards set by the Pentagon & CIA. To oversee the “reforms” he hired John Yates, a corrupt UK cop famous for his use of wire-tapping & police surveillance, & John Timoney, a US cop notorious for militarized methods against peaceful protestors, including rubber bullets, Tasers, concussion grenades, pepper spray, tear gas, electrified riot shields, baton charges, & police agents. Yates insists criminals are attacking unarmed police & claims kettling would work well in Bahrain to counter such “wanton damage” & vandalism. Timoney & the regime claim the repression is necessary because protests make traffic difficult. This may be the only case where the “banality of evil” is a suitable expression.

According to photojournalist, Mohammed Al-Shaikh, wearing a full veil (niqab) is not required in Bahrain but during protests almost all women wear them so as not to be identified by the cops--& likely also as protection against tear gas. Al-Shaikh says marches conform to religious tradition when men & women protest at the same time by marching in different groups, but there are also women only marches: “The women want to show that they’re not just following the movement, they’re also capable of leading the revolution. Actually, they drive the police completely nuts. A policeman cannot grab a woman & handcuff her; that type of physical contact isn’t allowed. So it’s almost impossible to stop the protests by women. The police have to settle for using tear gas to disperse the crowd.” That’s probably why they now have an all-female division of the riot police.

Since the operatives of the US & UK are not restrained by scruples of any kind their nasty little think tanks are likely working overtime to develop ways to counter the central role of women in the Bahrain revolution. Our fullest respect & solidarity with the fearless Bahraini revolution. End all US & UK aid to Bahrain! Bring the Fifth Fleet home! (Photo by Mohammed Al-Shaikh/AFP/Getty Images)

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