Last week at this time, the Bahraini government was “celebrating” their Formula One race by arresting a British Channel 4 television news crew who attempted to report on conditions in the country. The video here is the report they have now been able to file with footage smuggled out when they were deported.
Just how bad conditions are in Bahrain were further confirmed by today’s publication of a new report from Human Rights Watch, Bahrain: Police Brutality, Despite Reform Pledges in which HRW reports on the current status of the promised “reform” in Bahrain with accounts such as this:
Mohammed and Ali, both 20, who are not identified by their real names for their security, described their ordeal when riot police detained them and three others at a protest in Sanabis on February 11 and transferred them to a youth hostel that had been transformed into an informal police facility…
I had lost my shoes and could feel grass beneath my feet. With my hands cuffed behind my back, they made me kneel and bend over and they started kicking me and beating me with sticks. Someone said: “Finished.” Another voice said: “Too early, continue.” They then removed all my clothes, apart from the tee shirt that they had turned on my head, and laughed at me. They then put my pants back on and asked me to pray. As I leaned forward, I and the other prisoner were kicked from behind and we fell forward into a swimming pool, still with hands cuffed. The pool was shallow, so I was able to stand but the water was cold – it was a particularly chilly evening. When I fell into the pool, my tee shirt hood came down and I could see policemen standing around the pool.
Ali said police pulled him out of the pool by his hair and beat him again, on his forearms and knees, with sticks.
And not only demonstrators are under threat:
A gym owned by a member of Bahrain’s Parliament was riddled with 30 bullets, several days after the lawmaker called for the removal of the country’s prime minister.
The attack was an assassination attempt, Osama al-Tamimi, a Sunni Muslim, said in a telephone interview today. It was linked to his call at a Parliament session last week for the departure of Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa, premier for more than four decades, he said.
“This was a message to anyone trying to touch on this subject,” al-Tamimi said.
The Bahraini government has set tomorrow as the date when Abdul-Hadi AlKhawaja and his thirteen human rights colleagues will have the appeal of their life sentences heard and also tomorrow, AlKhawaja’s daughter Zeinab (@angryarabiya) will appear in court after her protest last week to attempt to locate and see her father.
This past week, all normal communications with AlKhawaja were blocked and his family was told he was not being held in the hospital room where he had been. His lawyers as well as various representatives of the Danish government were refused visits and everyone feared he might be dead. Just today the government has allowed his wife Khadija Almousawi to see him.
“I went to see my husband today and he told me that he was drugged last Monday,” Khadija al-Mousawi told Reuters by phone after what she said was her first visit to her husband in two weeks.
“After he woke up he found two IV (intravenous) injections in his arms and a feeding-tube down his nose. It was done against his will,” she added…
The activist had decided he had no choice but to accept the feeding through a nose tube and intravenous injections, she added.
“My husband told them he will only accept (the intravenous feeding) until his trial on Monday and depending on the outcome will decide what to do next.”
It’s important to remember that the Bahrain Arab Spring uprising was one of the most moderate, calling for increased representation and democracy not initially for the removal of the monarch. The violent repression of the pro-democracy protesters – and the clear message from Obama that there would not be a price for these abuses – has allowed the monarchy to continue it’s brutality. As Dr. Ala’a Shehabi, the activist arrested with the Channel 4 crew said earlier today:
“With the silence of the western governments over the continued repression in Bahrain, we are not going to see any solution over the horizon.”