While the US media focuses on events in Egypt, Syria and elsewhere, the people of Bahrain continue to risk their freedom, their mental and physical well-being, and their lives, to carry on with their demands for democracy and human rights. Members of the political opposition, human rights activists, doctors and ordinary Bahraini citizens have been arbitrarily detained, charged with crimes such as “inciting hatred of the regime” and “attempting to overthrow the government”, tortured as a form of punishment and as a means to acquiring forced confessions, and killed by excessive use of force.
The popular protest movement in Bahrain began on 14 February 2011. At one point, early in the uprising, an estimated quarter of Bahrain’s population participated in nonviolent protests. That is equivalent to 75 million Americans protesting simultaneously. The Bahraini regime and its Gulf Co-operation Council partners, led by Saudi Arabia, crushed the protests with overwhelming force.
Yet, Bahraini people still do not have the overt support of the US government – despite President Obama’s (and other administration officials’) claims that the United States stands with all who have democratic aspirations.
This week, on 14 August, following in the footsteps of Egypt’s revolutionary reboot, Bahrainis who oppose the repressive monarchy will begin their own “Tamarod movement”. The date is significant because it is the day Bahrain achieved independence from its British colonizers, and also because it marks two-and-a-half years since the start of Bahrain’s movement for democracy and human rights.