The past few days have witnessed dramatic escalation in demonstrations and protests in most towns and villages. Yesterday Bahrainis held a big rally in Sitra to mark the 40th anniversary of the country’s independence from Britain.
On 14th August 1971 the British signed the document granting Bahrain full independence following decades of struggle by Bahrainis that eventually led to a UN fact finding mission in 1970 to evaluate what the Bahrainis wanted. The mission confirmed to the UN General Assembly that the people wanted full independence and a new government in which they would be full partners. Bahrain became independent on 15th August only to enter into the black era headed by the notorious dictator, Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa who would stay at the helm of power until today. It has been one of the bleakest period of Bahrain’s history with thousands of Bahrainis detained, tortured or killed. Despite the independence, British legacy has survived through Ian Henderso n, the notorious torture architect, the unwavering British support to the Al Khalifa hereditary dictatorship and clandestine security and military support from both USA and UK to this murderous regime.
Over the past few days, Bahrainis have been preparing to mark the anniversary through nightly protests. The revolutionaries had announced a week-long programme of activities to mark the independence. At Sitra’s festival yesterday, the people power was exhibited through the speeches, poems, slogans and dedication to the cause of freedom and liberation. The day before (Saturday 13th August), several demonstrations and protests took place in several places. There was a big protest at Dair town in which men and women participated. They were attacked by the regime’s Death Squads and mercenary forces and the skirmishes continued during the night. The aggressors used excessive amounts of tear gas and chemical weapons against the unarmed civilians and there were several casualties. The people were entrenched near the Zakariya Al Ashiri roundabout and would not be dislocated by the aggressors. A similar protest took place at Sitra, Al Ekr and elsewhere. The night before ther e were demonstrations in many places, led by the peoples’ night march in Sanabis. It was one of the most memorable encounters between the people and the mercenaries. It continued throughout the night, but it was a testimony to the bravery of the Bahrainis and the cowardice of the Al Khalifa forces who targeted women and children inside their homes with tear gas and chemical weapons.
Meanwhile, calls have been made to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to dispatch its long-awaited fact-finding mission to investigate the Al Khalifa crimes against Bahrainis. This has followed the disastrous failure and the near-collapse of the Bissiouni royal commission which had been formed and financed by the dictator. Mr Charif Bissiouni gave his commission the kiss of death when he pre-empted its finding by absolving the regime of responsibility for the crimes committed against Bahrainis. More seriously, Bissiouni has been accused of passing information from the victims to the dictator that led to immediate revenge from those who have been languishing In jail for months under torture. The commission has failed to stop torture and sought to flatter the regime by not asking for the immediate repeal of the notorious Decree Law 56 that is at the source of the ongoing torture and abuse. Mr Bissiouni had earlier praise the dictator and his son of being “democratic” and “against torture” while the attacks on peaceful demonstrations continued unabated.
Among the most dramatic cases that had been presented to Bissiouni’s doomed commission are two testimonies by senior figures who had been severely tortured since their arrest in mid-March. Both have accused Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the dictator’s son, of personally administering torture on them. These are among the most damaging to both the dictator and his newly-recruited ally. To stop torture immediately, Bissiouni has to order the immediate arrest and trial of this torturer, a step that is unlikely to be taken by the commission which is financed by the despot himself. This makes it a priority for Navi Pillay to request the immediate dispatch of her mission to Bahrain.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
15th August 2011