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Bahrain Cracks Down on Freedom

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Bahrain Cracks Down on Freedom

by Stephen Lendman

Bahrain is a rogue terror state.

The ruling Al Khalifa monarchy is one of the world's most brutal dictatorships. It's also a valued US ally. Bahrain is home to America's Fifth Fleet.

Imperial priorities matter most. Washington backs Bahraini harshness. State terror is policy. Murder, torture, lawless imprisonments, and daily atrocities get tacit support. 

Bahrain ruthlessly wages war on freedom. Fundamental human and civil rights are spurned. Activists, protesters, medical professionals treating them when injured, independent journalists, and others supporting right over might are brutalized and imprisoned.

Nabeel Rajab is one of Bahrain's best. He's a prominent human rights leader. Activism got him targeted. His resume includes many impressive credentials. In 1999, he and others co-founded the Bahrain Human Rights Society. 

In 2002, he, Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, and others co-founded the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR). Authorities terrorized its members for years. Nonetheless, it remains viable.

It promotes civil, political, and economic freedom, ending racial discrimination, and universal human and civil rights. Bahraini despots equate these principles with terrorism.

Last August, Bahrain's Lower Criminal Court sentenced Nabeel to three years in prison. Supporting right over wrong in the emirate is dangerous. Expressing democratic views is criminalized. So is championing social justice publicly.

King Hamad calls peaceful protests "foreign plots." Nabeel and others like him put their lives on the line for years. Bahraini activists face arrests, harsh interrogations, torture, and imprisonment. Media scoundrels largely ignore it.

Nabeel's been in prison since July. He's charged under Article 178 of Bahrain's penal code. It prohibits unauthorized gatherings of five or more people for the "purpose of committing crimes (or) undermining public security, even if intended to achieve a legitimate purpose." 

His lawyers appealed. A Bahraini court delayed proceedings. Its ruling won't be known until around mid-December. Peaceful protests are criminalized. State courts tolerate no challengers. They give kangaroos a bad name. 

Bahrain banned protests earlier. On July 20, 2006, King Hamad ratified Code 32 on "Public Gatherings, Processions and Assembly." Doing so amended the 1973 Decree No. 18. Human rights groups condemned the action. It lawlessly targeted free expression and peaceful gatherings.

Unauthorized public meetings and seminars were prohibited. So was anything thought potentially threatening monarchal rule. Activists were targeted. Arrests and prosecutions followed. Bahraini repression is brutal and longstanding.

On October 30, public gatherings were again prohibited. Interior Minister Shaikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa said "rallies and gatherings will be considered illegal, and legal action will be taken against anyone calling for or taking part in them."

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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