Friday 18 February 2011

Bahrain imbroglio

This Friday, Bahrain sits on quiet anger that is raging underneath. Early morning raids on February 17 saw further five deaths and the situation is tense. The Pearl Roundabout looks like it has been ripped apart by a storm. Bahraini riot police had raided the unsuspecting civilians sleeping in make shift tents at 3 am yesterday, teargassing, firing rubber bullets and throwing sound bombs. The entire area was earlier cordoned off and the men, women and children ran helter-skelter. Ambulances were prevented from reaching the dead and injured. Reports put the dead at 5 and grievously injured at 43, other injured at 195. It is indeed inhuman and painful to read reports of the brutal clampdown and to see the women wailing for the dead in the Salmaniya Hospital premises.

Pearl Roundabout after the early morning riot police crackdown
So is the Arab world's uprising spreading to Bahrain? Yes, indeed. There is no denying the fact. What is the cause behind the struggle? Widespread unemployment and inequalities in wealth, as in all Arab nations. The Sunni minority Autocratic Government ruled by Sheikh Hamad Ibn Isa Al Khalifa is ruling the tiny island nation from 1999. The Prime Minister of 40 years Sheikh Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa heads the 25 member Cabinet of which 80% are from the Bahraini Royal Family, the Al Khalifas, who were given rights to rule the country in 1971 by the British with the Freedom Treaty. The British have the catastrophical effect of bifurcating any country they set their foot on, their divide and rule working perfectly here, a Sunni family heading a country with 70% predominantly Shia population. The Shia youth are denied job opportunities in all plumb sectors, including Defense and Police. Most of them remaining unemployed have took this opportunity to show their anger, emboldened by similar uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. There had been revolts in 1981 and 1990 earlier by the Shia Muslims, but was clamped down as well. So this revolt was much expected. This is not just a Shia uprising, but a social uprising by cyber savvy Generation of unemployed Bahrainis taking up face book and twitter campaigns as a platform for Reform.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have already spoken volumes of Human Rights violations in Bahrain and now the whole world sees it. Yesterday night the GCC Foreign Ministers Meet was held in Manama and the outcome was as expected- They offer unconditional economic, defense and moral support to Bahrain's King. Ironically, it was British exported crowd control ammunitions used in Bahrain's clamp down that is being probed now. It is heartening to note the British Foreign Ministry is planning to cancel licenses for export of such crowd control ammunitions being used in Middle East against innocent civilians. UK Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt rightly acknowledges- "We closely consider allegations of human rights abuses. We will not authorise any exports which, we assess, might provoke or prolong regional or internal conflicts, which might be used to facilitate internal repression." Big Brother too is bothered by what transpires in Bahrain, as it hosts US Navy's Fifth Fleet. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said- "We call on restraint from the government to keep its commitment to hold accountable those who have utilised excessive force against peaceful demonstrators and we urge a return to a process that will result in real meaningful changes for the people there." See her interview here-

Protesters mourning the dead, Salmaniya Hospital, Manama
Even as thousands of mourners are pouring into Salmaniya Hospital chanting " We want democracy!", the entire Arab World is watching in silence as to what will happen next in the Kingdom of Bahrain. I do sincerely hope the people settle down in a peaceful Constitutional Democracy, enjoying basic human rights which they are otherwise denied.

Good luck to them! Bettawfeeq!!!


  1. The brits policy of div and rule still creates head ache in several wrld countries. egs wer SL were they played tis game wit TAMILS and Sinhalaas.. whic has nt settled until now...Rwanda.. French did it bet TUTSI and HUDUs..who bgn to fought in 1992 resulting a massacr of 2 LAC civilians.. His assumption was"the minorites cant go against him...". so all thru he did so..

    On the other hand these riots hav an +ve side too... DEMOCRACY May flourish as an outcome.reg this i hav seen a article in BL by Rasheeda bagat. ill go thru it and get bac to u..

  2. Thanks for your comments on such a serious issue. Agree with you, the Brits had the temperament of dividing any country they set their foot in, see India, SL, Rwanda, and now Bahrain. Democracy is such a neglected word in Middle East.a, hopeful some day Bahrainis will find equality and justice under a democratic government!


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