ProPublica

Journalism in the Public Interest

U.S. Stays Mum as Bahrain Unleashes Brutal Crackdown

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Bahraini Shiite mourners chant slogans during the funeral for Issa Abdali Radhi, who was killed during a crackdown by security forces, in the town of Sitra outside the capital Manama on March 20, 2010. (Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images)

No leniency.” That was the warning from Bahrain’s crown prince last week as government forces continued cracking down on protesters, activists, journalists and doctors. It was issued alongside yet another promise of reform by the Bahraini government.

The warning was also met with silence from the United States. The U.S., which has long considered Bahrain a key ally in the region, condemned the violence in mid-March, and two weeks later noted that arresting bloggers “doesn’t help” promote an inclusive national dialogue. 

But so far this month—as reports of increasing intimidation, censorship and brutality emerge—the U.S. doesn’t seem to have had a public response. In one of the State Department's last statements, spokesman Mark Toner told reporters on March 22,  “Our position towards Bahrain is crystal clear. We’re going to continue to work with the Bahraini Government.”

We called the State Department to ask why the violence in Bahrain hadn't been broached in recent press briefings. "We respond to reporters' questions," a State Department spokesman told me, noting that "there's a lot going on throughout the entire Middle East."

Human rights groups have reported that at least 26 people have been killed since the Bahraini government declared martial law in mid-March. At least three activists have also died in police custody. More than 400 have been detained and dozens are missing.

One of those missing people is a human rights activist, Abdulhadi Alkhawaja. His daughter, Zainab Alkhawaja, witnessed her father being dragged down a flight of stairs and “beaten unconscious in front of me” by masked men. She described the incident yesterday in an open letter to President Obama, posted to her blog. “Tyrants, with US support, can live happily ever after,” she wrote on Twitter.

In the annual human rights report released on Friday, the State Department noted that Bahrain's government had previously been accused of torture and the arbitrary arrest and abduction of Shia men, particularly around the elections last fall. In recent days, however, the U.S. has focused its condemnation on events in Yemen, Syria, and the Ivory Coast while continuing its military involvement in Libya. National Security Advisor Tom Donilon is currently traveling to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain’s Gulf neighbors.

Journalists in Bahrain, meanwhile, have been deported and questioned by prosecutors. Accused of torture, the government has said that photos of the body of one dead activist—bearing bruises and multiple cuts—was fabricated. (CNN reported that most of the activists and bloggers it had arranged to interview for a documentary had disappeared, and CNN crew was also detained and questioned by masked gunmen and released after six hours.)

Police and security forces have also entered hospitals and beaten patients and Shiite doctors, according to Reuters. Doctors Without Borders has alleged that the Bahraini government is using hospitals as “bait to identify and arrest” protesters seeking treatment. Several doctors have disappeared.

Similar reports have been coming out of Egypt as well. Egypt's military leadership announced over the weekend that they were prepared to use force to end the continuing protests, and they made good on those threats. When a core group of protesters reoccupied Cairo’s central square to protest the rule of leaders who they see as being no different than Mubarak, the army cracked down, attacking protesters with live ammunition and electric batons. An Egyptian military court also sentenced a blogger to three years in prison for criticizing the military—“a dangerous precedent,” according to Human Rights Watch.

The U.S. Embassy in Cairo issued a statement acknowledging “the disturbing reports of the use of excessive force” and said it was “looking into the situation.” It urged Egypt’s military leaders to conduct an investigation, presumably to hold its own soldiers accountable.

Ralph Chernoff

April 12, 2011, 3:12 p.m.

What price a naval base in the Gulf of Oil? Any price, it seems. No matter how many subjects of this savage regime may suffer and die.

USA!......born out of REVOLUTION….has turned its back on all revolution and been on the wrong side of history just as consistently.
As a consistent supporter of fascist states…...it has becom one itself.
If the people were not so consistently programmed into lemmings, the mighty USA would be fertile ground for revolution.

This suppot of despots over the human rights of the people has got to be a real challenge for Obama—our lack of “integrity” is really beginning to show.

David S. Robins

April 13, 2011, 12:22 a.m.

The sad fact is that the vast majority of the American people nor any but a few members of Congressmen know how important Bahrain was to America for many years.  They allowed us to base much of our few ships in the Persian Gulf there.  We aided and abetted the pretext by claiming all our ships were offshore, except for the USS LaSalle, a small old command ship left over from WWII.  I happened to be in charge of our small Embassy in Bahrain when we finally succeeded in negotiating full onshore basing rights.  As usual, the US Navy, in its ignorance, charged right in and started building a huge base, satellite communications systems and things I can’t mention.  The “admiral” in charge at that time, thought he was was immune from criticism and often didn’t feel he had any obligation to keep the State Department informed.  After his tour, he briefly got an assignment as commander of the Atlantic Fleet, but by then the Clinton administration had learned its lesson and quietly sent him off into retirement.  We in the Embassy had repeatedly warned that we were overloading the system and would provoke both Iranian and Saudi intervention in Bahrain.  Both of our predictions have very sadly come true to the great eventual harm of the decent Shi’a and Sunni people of Bahrain who used to be ignorant of how corrupt their rulers were.  Now, all will pay a heavy perhaps fatal price.

Can’t do anything, ‘cuz if we do that will make Saudi Arabia mad - and since the Republicans decided wayyyy back at the birth of OPEC that they’d rather surrender a goodly chunk of the sovereignty of the United States of America to the Saudi royal family than give up Big Oil’s profits/their funding, well…here we are. 

Republicans are into royalty…if you can’t tell that from their placing of the Saudi royal family above us, then you should be able to tell from their constant attempts to create a new royalty here with income inequality.  It is a simple fact that Republicans are by nature much better at being Tories than patriots.

Funny how that works when a middle east nation has no oil but is closely aligned with the Saudis.

I’m waiting for all these “conservatives” and “Tea Party” idiots to INSIST that President Obama send in the troops to clean up Bahrain.  We can’t even support the wars they started when ex-President Bush decided to ‘clean up” the Middle East, but they’ll complain that he’s not doing anything if he justs sits back and sees where this is going.  Much like Libya…..they complained when he joined NATO and went in to help with air strikes, but now they complain that he didn’t do enough.  That’s the way our current government works…. if President Obama does something right….it’s wrong; and if he does something wrong….he’s STILL wrong.  It’s a sad state of affairs!!

Silly humans doing silly human things. What’s new?

Can’t do anything, ‘cuz if we do that will make Saudi Arabia mad - and since the Republicans decided wayyyy back at the birth of OPEC that they’d rather surrender a goodly chunk of the sovereignty of the United States of America to the Saudi royal family than give up Big Oil’s profits/their funding, well…here we are.

Republicans are into royalty…if you can’t tell that from their placing of the Saudi royal family above us, then you should be able to tell from their constant attempts to create a new royalty here with income inequality.  It is a simple fact that Republicans are by nature much better at being Tories than patriots.

http://www.creativewebdesigningahmedabadindia.in

What price a naval base in the Gulf of Oil? Any price, it seems. No matter how many subjects of this savage regime may suffer and die.

http://www.ablecommercecustomization.com

Bahrain leadership has a phobia of shites that was instilled in them by the USA hatred of Iran. Quite frankly Iran and the shites would like to live peacefully and live out their values.

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