Washington Wrong to Endorse Suppression of Democracy in Bahrain

18 March 2011 | Husain Abdulla, The Progressive

It is shameful of the Obama administration to acquiesce in the brutalization of the people of Bahrain.

When peaceful protesters gathered in the country’s capital for weeks and demanded democracy, Washington continued to back the monarchy. When security forces and gangs sent out by the monarchy engaged in bloody attacks on demonstrators, Washington barely said a peep. And the day before Saudi Arabia invaded Bahrain to help the Bahraini ruling family suppress the protests, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates actually visited Bahrain. The Saudis would not have made this incursion into their neighboring country if they had sensed that the Obama Administration, a close ally of Saudi Arabia, would disapprove.

Once the Saudis invaded, the State Department urged only that they show “restraint.” That’s not the usual way the United States responds to foreign invasions. The Obama administration won’t even call it an invasion, for some reason.

Meanwhile, appalling repression continues in Bahrain.

On March 13, one civilian was killed and more than 1,000 demonstrators were injured when they were attacked near the financial harbor. On March 15, security forces fired on demonstrators and then went to the capital’s main hospital and beat up doctors. On March 16, the regime violently removed protesters from the capital’s main square and fired on them from U.S.-supplied Apache gunships. Hundreds have been injured and a number of persons killed. Meanwhile, pro-government militias are roaming the towns and villages, wielding swords, axes, iron bars and wooden sticks and attacking villagers in their homes.

The people of Bahrain are duly noting U.S. endorsement of this brutality. In their time of trial, the United States has abandoned them — and its principles of democracy and freedom.

Husain Abdulla is director of Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain. He can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.