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Tag / Bahrain Center for Human Rights

Women Join Bahrain’s Uprising

Jen Marlowe

A woman I call M. strode down the main road of her village in a burqa, with a large red and white Bahraini flag wrapped around her shoulders, fluttering vigorously in the breeze. She carried a poster, which she allowed me to look at. It had four small plastic dolls glued to the surface. One doll, wrapped in a white shroud, lay inside a small yellow box. Two other dolls had black hoods covering their heads and faces. One of the hooded dolls hung from its feet. The other’s arms were bound behind its back. The fourth plastic doll was imprisoned behind strips of black tape and was next to some rubber bullets and a small plastic cylinder.

“They kill our children,” she explained, referring to the kingdom’s security forces. “They suffocate them. They use all kinds of weapons.” Her hand swept over the rubber bullets and the cylinder, which represented a tear gas canister. The bound and hooded dolls in stress positions didn’t require much interpretation, but she emphasized how commonly both male and female youth are tortured in Bahrain’s prisons.

Then M. flipped the poster over, revealing three black cutout figures hanging from nooses with paper bags over their heads. “We won’t accept anything but a death sentence,” was written in Arabic in black marker across the top. The effigies were identified with signs on their torsos: Salman, Khalifa, and Hamad, the crown prince, prime minister, and king of Bahrain, respectively.

“Hang them,” she insisted. Continue Reading

Tents set aflame in Pearl Roundabout, Manama, Bahrain, 16 March 2011

The “Secret” Revolution That Could Set the Middle East Aflame

Jen Marlowe, TomDispatch.com

J and I drove past scores of armed riot police on Budaiya highway as her iPhone buzzed non-stop: phone calls, Skype calls and, incessantly, Twitter. I had wondered what the phrase “Twitter revolution” really meant when I heard it used in connection with Iran in 2009 and Egypt in 2011. Here, in the small Gulf Kingdom of Bahrain, I was beginning to grasp the concept.

I was in that country for three weeks as a part of the Witness Bahrain initiative, a group of internationals seeking to document and expose human rights abuses perpetrated by the regime against protesters and activists. Aside from brief spurts of coverage, the crisis in Bahrain had largely been ignored by the U.S. media.

Perhaps the lack of coverage of the predominantly Shi’a uprising against an increasingly repressive Sunni monarchy can be explained, in part, by this: Washington considers that monarchy its close ally; Bahrain is the home of the Navy’s 5th Fleet, and the beneficiary of U.S. arms sales. Perhaps it has to do with the U.S.-Saudi friendship, and the increasing tension between the U.S. and Iran. Bahrain has been portrayed as a battleground for influence between neighboring Saudi Arabia (a supporter of the monarchy) and nearby majority Shi’a Iran.

Ignoring the revolution underway there and its demands for freedom and democracy is, however, perilous. If activists move from largely peaceful demonstrations toward the use of violence, Bahrain could prove the powder keg that might set the Persian Gulf aflame. Peaceful activists like J currently hold sway, but given the brutality I witnessed, it’s unclear how long the Bahraini revolution will remain nonviolent. Continue Reading