BAHRAIN PROTESTS April 22, 2012Posted by wmmbb in Middle East.
Apparently the Government of Bahrain wished to show to the world that the situation on their island had returned to normal.
At the same time the fossil fuel burning car race was an opportunity for the opposition to demonstrate the opposite. And it is an opportunity that has not gone begging.
ABC New reports:
Extensive security measures are now in place in Bahrain in case of more protests.
Dozens of armoured vehicles and security forces in riot gear have been deployed along the road to the Bahrain International Circuit and around Manama.
Activists say barbed wire has been installed near some parts of the main highway.
“The government are using the Formula One race to serve their PR campaign,” rights activist Nabeel Rajab said.
“It’s not turning out the way they wanted.”
There are no protesters near the Grand Prix circuit, which is blanketed with layers of security. Saturday’s practice runs began without incident.
Organisers have rejected calls from human rights groups to cancel Sunday’s race because of what activists see as continuing political repression.
What conclusions can be drawn?
- One again, assuming the reporting of cause and effect is accurate, violence by some demonstrators has occasioned greater violence by the authorities.
- Formula One have made a political decision to associate themselves with the dictatorship in Bahrain, after not holding the event last year.
- The violence of the reaction is not exactly risk averse behavior by the dictatorship. Presumably, they are confident of the support of the Saudis and the Americans.
Bill Law at the BBC writes:
An international outcry led to King Hamad appointing a panel of human rights experts to investigate the events of February and March 2011.
Headed by the Egyptian, Cherif Bassiouni, the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) report was a scathing indictment of his government. King Hamad accepted the findings and promised sweeping reforms.
His government says that among other things, the legal and law enforcement systems have been overhauled, employees who were unfairly dismissed have been reinstated, and a special prosecution unit set up to investigate abuse claims.
Spiegel has an interview with Zainab al-Khawaja whose father Abdulhadi al-Khawaja is currently on hunger strike. It seems:
Some Western and Arab intelligence services accuse al-Khawaja and some other activists in Bahrain of having received military training in Iran and of maintaining close contact with Hezbollah. “They speak in the name of human rights, but as a matter of fact their mission is a political one,” an American security official said. “We are extremely worried about the contacts they have with some questionable groups and figures.”
The report by Deutsche Wella suggests that things are far from what they should be.
Ian Black at The Guardian observes:
Manama has been able to count on the acquiescence of governments and the active support of others. US and British PR companies are working overtime to get across the official point of view. “Imagine if a British police chief was in Damascus dumping on the protest movement in Syria,” said the Labour MP Denis MacShane of the security role of former Metropolitan police assistant commissioner John Yates. “There is a complete double standard when it comes to Bahrain.”
I can’t believe that PR would ever not work. Edward Bernay would be roiling in his grave, “all fired up, and ready to go”.
According to Souad Mekennnet in The New York Times the dead man appears to have been murdered by the Security Forces.
The larger context is the politics of oil, and whereas reasons for imperial intervention in the Middle East preceded the discovery of oil, since then oil and imperialism have conspired to ensure the creation and survival of regimes such as that in Bahrain. The invasion of Iraq was the reason for the First Gulf War which lead to the brutal, inhuman, immoral sanctions and then the occupation.
- Bahrain Grand Prix security tightens as protests flare (independent.co.uk)
- Bahrain Grand Prix security tight as protests flare (reuters.com)
- Bahrain: Protesters dispersed with teargas and stun grenades – one reported dead (formulaoneupdate.wordpress.com)
- Bahrain: Protester killed, thrown on ground (formulaoneupdate.wordpress.com)
- Bahrain’s Formula One Gala Not Going as Planned (moroccotomorrow.org)