Protesting for Justice in Bahrain
The Bahraini monarchy is one of the world's most despotic. It's also a valued US ally.
by Stephen Lendman
Long-suffering Bahrainis want democratic change. In response, Al Khalifa security forces attack them.
Washington turns a blind eye. So did Formula One's governing body. On April 22, Bahrain's Grand Prix goes on as planned. Protesters call it "blood on the track."
Money, prestige, and face saving matter most. So does enforcing power through the barrel of a gun. Justice is nowhere in sight.
From April 20 - 22, the February 14 Youth Coalition promised "three days of rage." Huge masses rally for justice. London's Telegraph said protesters "flooded a main highway in a march stretching for miles...."
Out with the hated monarchy. Stop the hypocrisy of racing in a virtual war zone. Security forces responded as expected. Violence raged. It still does. Tear gas, rubber bullets, stun grenades, sound bombs, buckshot, and what some called toxic gas are used.
On April 20, Bahrain's senior Shiite cleric, Sheik Isa Qassim, delivered a sermon denouncing Al Khalifa brutality. Ahead of Sunday's Grand Prix, he said crackdowns resembled "a war" zone.
"This is a crisis of a government that does not want to acknowledge the right of people to rule themselves and choose their representatives," he added.
On April 19, the US-based Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) issued a press release denouncing the "indiscriminate and systematic use of tear gas against civilian protesters and densely populated Shia neighborhoods."
According to PHR's Richard Sollom, tear gas is "potentially lethal" when used against "men, women, children, and the elderly...." Long-term health consequences include miscarriages and birth defects.
PHR's past president, Holly Atkinson, said:
"When all eyes turn to Bahrain this weekend to watch the Formula One race, we cannot forget the protesters who are being constantly attacked by their own government."
PHR expressed concern for tear gas' "suspected severe health impact on the population." It also stressed Al Khalifa hypocrisy. Despite promising long needed reforms, excessive force is used. Instead of improved conditions, they've deteriorated.