FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Bahrain’s New Symbol of Resistance

by RANNIE AMIRI

When tanks, bulldozers, U.S.-supplied Cobra attack helicopters and Bahrain’s trigger-happy security forces violently evicted peaceful protestors from Manama’s Pearl Roundabout last week, little time was wasted demolishing the 300-foot monument at its center.

The state-run Bahrain News Agency reported the circle needed a “face life” to “boost the flow of traffic.” The country’s foreign minister said, “We did it to remove a bad memory.”

We assume he also includes the memory of pro-democracy demonstrators who made the roundabout and monument the heart of their struggle for the last six weeks.

Now, a new symbol of their movement has taken its place.

It is first important to emphasize the protests’ non-violent nature. There were no troop defections to provide the people with weapons, as in Libya. This is Bahrain, where 90 percent employed in the 20,000-man strong National Security Agency are Jordanian, Yemeni, Pakistani or other foreign nationals. They are given expedited citizenship to alter the island’s demographics in favor of the minority Sunni population (who the al-Khalifa family regards as their natural constituency).

Sympathy with the plight of fellow countrymen, as when the Egyptian army refused to fire on those gathered in Tahrir Square, is non-existent in Bahrain, by definition.

The mainly Shia protestors have repeatedly stressed their purely political demands. They have not challenged the al-Khalifa regime with armed insurrection or coup. Instead, Bahrainis have called for an end to the policy of sectarian discrimination; fair and proportional representation in the executive branch, legislature, judiciary and security sector (from which the 70 percent Shia population are excluded); and equity in housing, healthcare and jobs.

The monarchy’s ferocious response reflects the threat they felt—not from the red-herring of Iranian hegemony—but from the end of absolute power.

After the second attack at Pearl Roundabout, a place that has seen no greater heartache or injustice has become the new face of resistance. In uprising’s early days, Fadel al-Matrouk was gunned down outside it while preparing to join the funeral procession of the revolt’s first martyr, Ali Mushaima.

It is the besieged Salmaniya Hospital, now under complete military control. Tanks block the emergency room entrance, masked gunmen patrol outside and checkpoints surround it. Ambulance drivers are prevented from transporting the injured, doctors and nurses targeted, and staff unable to leave or return for fear of their safety. All are accused of abetting anti-government fervor by simply performing their medical duty. Harrowing tales from personnel and patients alike have become commonplace.

From Time’s “Crackdown: Why Bahrain’s Military Has Taken Over a Hospital,” March 17:

It was supposed to be a routine trip from Sitra, a poor Shi’ite neighborhood here in Bahrain. On Tuesday an ambulance loaded with two paramedics, a doctor and critical patients was on its way to Salmaniya Medical Center, the island-nation’s largest hospital, when it was stopped by a group of 20 government soldiers. According to one of the paramedics, all passengers were ordered out of the car, the injured thrown onto the street. The paramedic was forced to kneel on all fours while they took turns kicking his head from side to side. The female doctor was commanded to strip, “so that we all may see your body.” When she refused, they beat her.

The AP reports on March 20:

It was just after midnight when armed men in military uniforms came to the hospital bed of Ali Mansour Abdel-Karim Nasser, who was injured by pellets fired during a clash with riot police. He said what came next was worse: he was bound, beaten and mocked in the hallway of Bahrain’s main state-run hospital.

“They came with guns and they said, ‘What’s wrong with you, why are you here?’ I told them I was shot and I showed them my legs,” said Nasser, whose legs and abdomen were peppered with wounds from pellets shot during a protest in a village on Sitra island on Tuesday.

“They cursed at me, ripped out the IV, pushed me off the bed and started kicking me.” Nasser said the six soldiers — whose faces were covered with black ski masks — pulled him to the hallway and tied his hands behind the back. He said at least 12 other patients were abused in a similar way.

Accounts by medical staff of last week’s raids confirm that the injured were prohibited from getting to the medical center and ambulances prohibited from leaving. Scores of the wounded have been removed and relocated elsewhere, and surgeons hauled off during operations. Drs. Ali al-Ikri, Mahmood Asghar, and Bassem and Ghassan Dhaif remain missing.

Although anecdotal, overwhelming corroborating testimony from eyewitnesses and treating physicians removes all doubt that egregious violations of international law, specifically articles of the 4th Geneva Convention pertaining to the protection of civilian hospitals, occurred. Human Rights Watch decried the detention of civil rights workers and physicians who spoke out against the abuse of civilians.

Patient, emergency and operating rooms in Salmaniya Hospital bear witness to the regime’s attack on the defenseless, weak and dispossessed. Their right to safety, security and dignity has been grossly violated. The indefatigable will of those working inside its encircled walls is mirrored by the will of residents in encircled villages, like Sitra.

The former Pearl Monument had a stone jewel at its apex, honoring Bahrain’s heritage in pearl cultivation. It was held up by six swooping arches of the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries; the same countries who are now sending in troops to oppress the Bahraini people. In many ways, the monument’s destruction was fitting.

Bruised and battered Bahrainis will one day—and make no mistake, that day will come—erect a monument in tribute to the success of their long struggle and all those who fell during it. Its form might be unknown, what it will represent is not: freedom.

RANNIE AMIRI is an independent Middle East commentator.

 

 

 

More articles by:

Rannie Amiri is an independent commentator on Middle East affairs.

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 26, 2017
William Hawes – Jason Holland
Lies That Capitalists Tell Us
Chairman Brandon Sazue
Out of the Shadow of Custer: Zinke Proves He’s No “Champion” of Indian Country With his Grizzly Lies
Patrick Cockburn
Grenfell Tower: the Tragic Price of the Rolled-Back Stat
Joseph Mangano
Tritium: Toxic Tip of the Nuclear Iceberg
Ray McGovern
Hersh’s Big Scoop: Bad Intel Behind Trump’s Syria Attack
Roy Eidelson
Heart of Darkness: Observations on a Torture Notebook
Geoff Beckman
Why Democrats Lose: the Case of Jon Ossoff
Matthew Stevenson
Travels Around Trump’s America
David Macaray
Law Enforcement’s Dirty Little Secret
Colin Todhunter
Future Shock: Imagining India
Yoav Litvin
Animals at the Roger Waters Concert
Binoy Kampmark
Pride in San Francisco
Stansfield Smith
 North Koreans in South Korea Face Imprisonment for Wanting to Return Home
James Porteous
Seventeen-Year-Old Nabra Hassanen Was Murdered
Weekend Edition
June 23, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Democrats in the Dead Zone
Gary Leupp
Trump, Qatar and the Danger of Total Confusion
Andrew Levine
The “Democracies” We Deserve
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
The FBI’s “Operation Backfire” and the Case of Briana Waters
Rob Urie
Cannibal Corpse
Joseph G. Ramsey
Savage Calculations: On the Exoneration of Philando Castile’s Killer
John Wight
Trump’s Attack on Cuba
Dave Lindorff
We Need a Mass Movement to Demand Radical Progressive Change
Brian Cloughley
Moving Closer to Doom
David Rosen
The Sex Offender: the 21st Century Witch
John Feffer
All Signs Point to Trump’s Coming War With Iran
Jennifer L. Lieberman
What’s Really New About the Gig Economy?
Pete Dolack
Analyzing the Failures of Syriza
Vijay Prashad
The Russian Nexus
Mike Whitney
Putin Tries to Avoid a Wider War With the US
Gregory Barrett
“Realpolitik” in Berlin: Merkel Fawns Over Kissinger
Louis Yako
The Road to Understanding Syria Goes Through Iraq
Graham Peebles
Grenfell Tower: A Disaster Waiting to Happen
Ezra Rosser
The Poverty State of Mind and the State’s Obligations to the Poor
Ron Jacobs
Andrew Jackson and the American Psyche
Pepe Escobar
Fear and Loathing on the Afghan Silk Road
Andre Vltchek
Why I Reject Western Courts and Justice
Lawrence Davidson
On Hidden Cultural Corruptors
Christopher Brauchli
The Routinization of Mass Shootings in America
Missy Comley Beattie
The Poor Need Not Apply
Martin Billheimer
White Man’s Country and the Iron Room
Joseph Natoli
What to Wonder Now
Tom Clifford
Hong Kong: the Chinese Meant Business
Thomas Knapp
The Castile Doctrine: Cops Without Consequences
Nyla Ali Khan
Borders Versus Memory
Binoy Kampmark
Death on the Road: Memory in Tim Winton’s Shrine
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail