This man decided to join a peaceful protest. He is now dead.
WARNING. This article contains graphic content and images
As TJ13 revealed yesterday, the life of the majority of citizens in Bahrain has taken a turn for the worse in recent times. Much was promised following the uprising in 2011, but it appears little has been delivered. In fact the circumstances for the majority of the kingdom’s population have deteriorated.
The ruling Al Khalifa family’s security forces are raping detainees, torturing them by slowly burning them with cigarettes and even shooting them at close range with tear gas weapons causing permanent brain damage from which the victims are now in long term comas.
The self appointed King of the kingdom, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah, was presented with an independent report in 2011 of the atrocities which had taken place during the uprising. This was read to him whilst he sat on red and gold state throne and the audience before him numbered some 1,000 people.
Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah promised Bahrain would never again suffer “intimidation and sabotage. Nor do we want, ever again, to discover that any of our law enforcement personnel have mistreated anyone.”
He promised reforms would be sweeping and that there would be protection of freedom of speech and human rights.
“We do not want ever again to see civilians tried anywhere else but in ordinary courts,” Al Khalifah remarked.
This was meant to be a new dawn for Bahrain, the King even stated he would sack any agent of the state who had abused their position.
Four years on, F1 rides into town and many of the circus members have been making a big deal on social media of how beautiful the paddock is. Possibly the most attractive of all paddocks they visit, remarked one.
But just because the discontent of 2011 is invisible, does not mean it has gone away.
In direct opposition to what the King stated he would do, freedom of speech in Bahrain is crushed at every move. Public protests in Bahrain’s capital have been banned for nearly two years.
Even outside Manama, security forces frequently use tear gas and bird shot pellets to disperse anyone who dares to demonstrate, often resulting in protesters being injured or even killed.
Criticising the authorities on Twitter or other social media sites will land you in jail.
The Bahraini authorities often use broad national security charges such as “inciting hatred against” or “threatening to overthrow the government”, “insulting” the King and other official institutions against activists and others who post comments critical of their policies on social media.
If authorities don’t like the work of an organization, they just shut it down. New laws recently introduced allow the Bahraini government to suspend or summarily disband by force any political association for alleged “irregularities”.
For the many who end up in detention, torture is commonplace. Amnesty International have documented dozens of cases of detainees being brutally beaten, deprived of sleep and adequate food, burnt with cigarettes, sexually assaulted, electrocuted, including on the genitals, and burnt with an iron to try and force them to “confess” to crimes. One such detainee reported he was struck with the claw of a hammer on several parts of his body. Another said he was raped by having a plastic pipe inserted into his anus.
And if none of that works, the government will just revoke someone’s nationality. Authorities in Bahrain usually resort to revoking the nationality of people considered to be a government opponent. Without nationality, individuals are forced to leave the country, even if they have nowhere else to go. Many of those whose nationality was revoked were rendered effectively stateless.
TJ13 is aware of a number of individuals who work in F1 and usually travel to race weekends, who have requested to be excused from the Bahrain GP weekend. To date we are aware of just one who subsequently was ‘relieved of their responsibilities’ and thankfully in most cases, the teams respect these decisions.
So Formula One fans, maybe some of us will remember all this, when we watch the most expensive cars on earth racing around a less than average track design, and see the Bahraini elite, presented to us as benevolent friends of Formula One.
These people all joined peaceful protests in Bahrain. 2 of them are now dead.