To mark the occasion Bahraini exiles in several countries organized protests. In London, the Opposition Bloc; the Umbrella body comprising all opposition groups, organized several pickets at Marble Arch and outside the Dorchester Hotel where the Akhalifa London embassy held its annual reception. In Berlin Bahraini exiles protested outside the British Embassy against the proposed construction of a naval base to protect the hereditary dictatorship. In Washington, Bahrainis and their supporters held a protest outside the Alkhalifa embassy and called on the US government to stop supporting one of the most vicious dictatorships in the Middle East.
Meanwhile opposition to the proposed British naval base has gathered momentum. The Stop the War Coalition has tabled an e-petition against the proposal and urged people to call for an immediate halt to the renewal of UK military presence in the volatile Middle East region. Under the title “No British base in Bahrain’ the petition says: “We the undersigned oppose the plans by the British government to open a new military base in Bahrain, the first British base “east of the Suez” since 1971. Rather than increasing military deployment in the Middle East we should be ending our disastrous interventions in the region.” It added: “Bahrain is a repressive, undemocratic regime that brutally crushed the movement for democracy in 2011. Britain should not be showing complicity with the actions of the Bahraini monarchy.” You can sign it at http://act.stopwar.org.uk/petition/1
An Early Day Motion calling on Mr Cameron not to go ahead with the proposed naval base in Bahrain was tabled last week. So far more than 20 MPs have signed it.
Yesterday, The Economist published an article titled: “We are back” which said: the timing of the Bahrain agreement strikes some as odd. Human Rights Watch, a lobbying group, criticised Britain for announcing the move only a month after the House of Commons committee on foreign affairs issued a damning verdict on the glacial pace of political reform in Bahrain. Dissidents remain in jail following widespread protests in 2010-11. Shashank Joshi of RUSI, a think-tank, says that it sends a message suggesting “a narrow and myopic” definition of regional stability. It also appears to pre-empt the 2015 Strategic and Defence and Security Review. In a report for RUSI last year, Gareth Stansfield and Saul Kelly raised the concern that the force Britain could deploy in the Gulf might be “large enough to get us into trouble, but too small to get us out of trouble once it starts”. That is an argument that would have resonated 50 years ago.
Concern is mounting about the fate of several people detained for more than a week with no information about their welfare or their whereabouts. Mohammad Mahfoudh, Mohammad Al Dhaif and his brother Jaffar were snatched by members of the Death Squads from the Bahrain-Saudi causeway on their to perform religious rituals in Iraq.
The regime launched violent attacks on native Bahrainis to pre-empt the Martyrs Day flare up. More than fifty houses were raided in the past week in search for native Bahraini youths. From Bani Jamra Ahmad Mohammad Ali Fateel was detained from the causeway. On Monday 15th December Hussain Mohammad Falah was arrested in a raid on his house in Demstan. The detainees from Karzakkan and Demstan have been subjected to horrific treatment in the past few days. They were stripped naked, beaten and deprived of sleep. One leading figure, Sheikh Abdul Hadi Al Moknowdhar has sent a distress message that the leaders were being ill-treated, confined to small spaces and denied basic dietary requirement. Despite their old age they are given fatty foods with no attention to quality. Their open space activities have been severely curtailed while family visits have been restricted with fewer relatives allowed to see the prisoners.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
17th December 2014