FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Bahrain’s New Symbol of Resistance

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.

June 21, 2018
Ron Jacobs
Divest From the Business of Incarceration
W. T. Whitney
Angola in Louisiana: Proving Ground for Racialized Capitalism
Susan Babbitt
Assange and Truth: the Deeper (Harder) Issue
Kenn Orphan
Humanity vs. the Rule of Law
Mateo Pimentel
Why on Earth a Country of Laws and Borders?
Michael T. Klare
The Pentagon’s Provocative Encirclement of China
Howard Lisnoff
The Outrageous Level of Intolerance is Happening Everywhere!
Vijay Prashad
The People of India Stand With Palestine
RS Ahthion
Internment Camps for Child Migrants
Binoy Kampmark
Rocking the G7: Trump Stomps His Allies
Raouf Halaby
Give It Up, Ya Mahmoud
Lawrence Wittner
Getting Ready for Nuclear War
Patrick Cockburn
Kurdish Women Protest After Being Told by Turkish-Backed Militias to Wear the Hijab
Dean Baker
When Both Men and Women Drop Out of the Labor Force, Why Do Economists Only Ask About Men?
Bruce Lerro
Big Brother Facebook: Drawing Down the Iron Curtain on Yankeedom
June 20, 2018
Henry Giroux
Trump’s War on Children is an act of State Terrorism
Bill Hackwell
Unprecedented Cruelty Against Immigrants and Their Children
Paul Atwood
“What? You Think We’re So Innocent?”
Nicola Perugini
The Palestinian Tipping Point
K.J. Noh
Destiny and Daring: South Korean President Moon Jae-In’s Impossible Journey Towards Peace
Gary Leupp
Jeff Sessions and St. Paul’s Clear and Wise Commands
M. G. Piety
On Speaking Small Truths to Power
Dave Lindorff
Some Straight Talk for Younger People on Social Security (and Medicare too)
George Wuerthner
The Public Value of Forests as Carbon Reserves
CJ Hopkins
Confession of a Putin-Nazi Denialist
David Schultz
Less Than Fundamental:  the Myth of Voting Rights in America
Rohullah Naderi
The West’s Over-Publicized Development Achievements in Afghanistan 
Dan Bacher
California Lacks Real Marine Protection as Offshore Drilling Expands in State Waters
Lori Hanson – Miguel Gomez
The Students of Nicaragua’s April Uprising
Russell Mokhiber
Are Corporations Behind Frivolous Lawsuits Against Corporations?
Michael Welton
Infusing Civil Society With Hope for a Better World
June 19, 2018
Ann Robertson - Bill Leumer
We Can Thank Top Union Officials for Trump
Lawrence Davidson
The Republican Party Falls Apart, the Democrats Get Stuck
Sheldon Richman
Trump, North Korea, and Iran
Richard Rubenstein
Trump the (Shakespearean) Fool: a New Look at the Dynamics of Trumpism
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Protect Immigrant Rights; End the Crises That Drive Migration
Gary Leupp
Norway: Just Withdraw From NATO
Kristine Mattis
Nerd Culture, Adultolescence, and the Abdication of Social Priorities
Mike Garrity
The Forest Service Should Not be Above the Law
Colin Todhunter
Pro-GMO Activism And Smears Masquerade As Journalism: From Seralini To Jairam Ramesh, Aruna Rodrigues Puts The Record Straight
Doug Rawlings
Does the Burns/Novick Vietnam Documentary Deserve an Emmy?
Kenneth Surin
2018 Electioneering in Appalachian Virginia
Nino Pagliccia
Chrystia Freeland Fails to See the Emerging Multipolar World
John Forte
Stuart Hall and Us
June 18, 2018
Paul Street
Denuclearize the United States? An Unthinkable Thought
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail