Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Brutal State Terror in Bahrain
By Stephen Lendman
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, April 27, 2011
Saying sporadic protests began last summer, major ones began for
regime change on February 14, the tenth anniversary of the public referendum
on the Bahrain National Action Charter - a monarchy reform initiative to end
years of 1990s political unrest.
Wanting constitutionally mandated
elected government, greater parliamentary authority, political freedom,
social justice, and ending discrimination against majority Shias, many
thousands defied government demands for weeks, braving police attacks with
tear gas, beatings, rubber bullets, live fire, arrests, torture, and
disappearances until March 14 when over 1,500 Saudi Arabia-led Gulf
Cooperation Council (GCC) military and police security forces invaded
Bahrain guns blazing.
They attacked peaceful protesters, arrested
opposition leaders and activists, occupied the country, denied wounded men
and women medical treatment, and imposed police state control in support of
the hated monarchy.
At the same time, Bahrain is a signatory to
nearly every major international humanitarian and human rights law,
-- the International Covenant on Civil and Political
-- the International Covenant on Economic, Social
and Cultural Rights (ICESCR);
-- the Convention against Torture and
Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; and
the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC), among others.
April 22, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) condemned the violence in a
public statement and new report titled, "DO NO HARM: A Call for Bahrain to
End Systematic Attacks on Doctors and Patients," as well as against
protesters demanding change.
In mid-March, under Saudi occupation,
King Hamad declared a state of emergency, set up checkpoints, and used
excessive force against peaceful demonstrations. Moreover, calling Salmaniya
Hospital a "stronghold of the opposition protesters," security forces
occupied it, denied treatment to wounded patients, arrested doctors, nurses,
and other medical staff, as well as human rights activists, bloggers, and
other pro-democracy supporters.
As a result, dozens were killed,
many hundreds detained or disappeared, and some fear an "undeclared war."
Under Article 36(b) of Bahrain's 2002 Constitution, King Hamad may declare a
state of national safety, saying:
"A state of national safety or
martial law shall be proclaimed only by Decree. In all cases, martial law
cannot be proclaimed for a period exceeding three months. This period may
not be renewed except with the consent of the majority of the members of the
National Assembly present (having no legislative authority)."
Article 32(b) vests the king with executive authority, "together with the
Council of Ministers (the Cabinet) and Ministers," appointed by him.
Article 123 states:
"It is impermissible to suspend any provision of
this Constitution except during the proclamation of martial law, and within
the limits prescribed by law. It is not permissible under any circumstances
to suspend the convening of the Consultative Council or the Chamber of
Deputies during that period or to infringe upon the immunity of their
members, or during the proclamation of a state of national safety."
According to King Hamad's March 15 declaration, Bahrain's military head may
now "take necessary steps to restore national security," helped by
repressive Saudi occupier muscle. The decree also bans trade unions,
political and NGO groups, as well as opposition publications.
Moreover, curfews have been imposed. Transportation infrastructure is
controlled. Suspected regime opponents are being arrested. Phone, Internet
and other forms of communication are being monitored, and everyone is
vulnerable to inspections and surveillance.
crackdowns, security forces are indiscriminately using brute force,
including high velocity weapons, shotguns, rubber bullets, birdshot,
beatings, tear gas, and live fire against unarmed civilians, as well as
against targeted individuals at close range.
canisters containing six large solid rubber bullets are being used. When
fired, multiple projectiles explode, hitting human targets indiscriminately
with force enough to cause serious injuries or death.
documented tear gas used in enclosed places, including homes, as well as
unidentified chemical agents based on first hand observation of one
protester who exhibited neurological symptoms, corroborated by testimonies
from three Bahraini healthcare professionals who'd witnessed or treated
dozens of patients similarly diagnosed.
Their symptoms included
disorientation, respiratory distress, shortness of breath, sensations of
choking, spastic convulsions, burning, aphasia, and hysteria.
mid-February, doctors, nurses, and other medical staff have been
systematically targeted. PHR corroborated testimonies about middle of the
night abductions, beatings, and detentions incommunicado at unknown
As a result, a senior UN human rights
official called "the targeting of medical workers deeply distressing."
Another UN torture expert denounced "the appalling killing and ill-treatment
of protestors, including those in hospitals." The World Medical Association
(WMA) demanded accountability for those responsible, saying:
"Physicians have an ethical duty to care for their patients, and governments
have a duty to ensure that appropriate conditions exist to allow them to do
Nonetheless, on March 15, Salamaniya Hospital was militarized,
staff members terrorized, abducted, interrogated, and detained, including
leading Bahraini specialists. PHR also documented egregious abuses against
patients and detainees, including torture, beatings, verbal abuse,
humiliation, and threatened rape, other sexual abuse, or death.
fact, testimonies obtained from 47 informants were consistent with a
systematic, coordinated campaign to abduct, detain, and torture civilians
involved in February and March pro-democracy demonstrations. Methods used to
arrest them include:
-- roadblocks and checkpoints throughout the
country, focusing on Shia areas;
-- checking medical records for
smoke inhalation or bullet wounds;
-- published, televised, or
Internet photos of protesters;
-- international media and other
observers in Bahrain who spoke to protesters, doctors, or other
-- nightly raids in Shia communities;
information gotten through torture; and
-- posing as health
professionals in stolen ambulances.
On April 8, PHR representatives
visited Salmaniya Hospital. "(T)he team saw a large-caliber tank gun and an
armed soldier standing up in the turret holding an assault rifle. Lined up
directly in front of the main emergency entrance were 16 police vehicles and
20 fully armed Bahraini riot policemen."
Inside, security forces,
riot police and special forces occupied every floor, wearing masks to
conceal their identity.
PHR, however, said at no time did Bahrain
face an imminent threat throughout the crisis, and found no evidence that
pro-democracy protesters were armed during demonstrations. Nonetheless,
police state terror threatens everyone challenging regime power, including
doctors and other medical staff for doing their job.
At the same
time, while using an alleged Libyan humanitarian crisis as a pretext for
intervention, Obama officials are indifferent to appalling Bahraini state
terror against peaceful pro-democracy protesters. A dismissive April 12
State Department advisory merely called the situation "fluid," saying "daily
routines are returning to normal...." The brazen hypocrisy requires no
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago
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A previous article discussed police state terror in Bahrain, accessed
through the following link: