Martyrs and Violent, Thuggish, Idiotic Dictators

I am angry. I am sad. I am full of righteous rage. I am far away from my comrades in Bahrain, Yemen, and Libya who are fighting and dying for freedom, but I am fully behind them. I wish I was there standing shoulder to shoulder with my brothers and sisters all over the arab world who are changing the face of North Africa and the Middle East. Today, many people died for no reason at all. In Bahrain, Libya, and Yemen, people asking for nothing more than to be treated like responsible adults and to be govern themselves were attacked and brutalised by violent, thuggish, and idiotic dictators, and their regimes. I know I’m sounding a little melodramatic but I’m writing what I feel right now.

I was going to sleep yesterday around 1:00 but thought I’d just check twitter before I do. As you know I haven’t been following the news much, nor have I been online that often. The Egyptian revolution meant that my work was very much delayed and I’ve been trying to catch up. Anyway, so I get on Twitter and very quickly realise that something horrible was taking place in Bahrain’s capital city of Manama. As some of you might know people have been camping out in pearl roundabout, which is a huge central place in the capital. They were demanding reform, they wanted to move towards a parliamentary monarchy.

Let me give you a little history of Bahrain. It is a tiny kingdom in the Persian/Arabian gulf. The population is a majority of Shias but the monarchy is Sunni. The ruling family is the Al-Khalifa family. They conquered the small archipelago about 200 years ago. Iran has laid claim to Bahrain for a long time and still sometimes does, although not as much lately. It is a tiny country of about 1 million people. There have been a constant sectarian tension there. Also, there have been a few reforms introduced, including a parliament where half the seats are voted for by the people and half are appointed by the king. What is interesting about the latest protests is that they had absolutely no sectarian tinge to them. It was basically people asking for real reform and to turn Bahrain into a full parliamentary monarchy.

The first two days of protests saw 2 deaths. However, the king went on television and apologised for the killings and promised to open up dialogue. However, today at 3:00 local time, as protesters were sleeping riot police moved in and cracked down on them. These protesters included young, old, men women, children, even toddlers. The police came to the bridge overlooking the roundabout and without any warning started shooting at protesters with tear gas, rubber bullets, maybe even live ammunition, and shotgun bird pellets. As  protesters scrambled to run away from the carnage, police flanked them and attacked them from the other side with more of the same weapons, as well as truncheons and batons.

The result is hundreds of injuries, 5 confirmed deaths, and around 70 missing persons, many of whom are children. There were reports of refrigerator trucks used by the police, we don’t know what for. Many have speculated that bodies were hidden there to be disposed of, although I cannot confirm this. The point is it was a massacre. An unnecessary and bloody massacre. I don’t know how the monarchy will survive this. If there was anyway to radicalise the pro-democracy movement, that was it. I think the people will now want, quite rightly if you ask me, the whole monarchy to go.

The reports from the hospitals were horrifying. Many of the dead and injured had their bodies riddled with shotgun pellets. One of the dead had part of his skull missing from being beaten. Many of the injured were handcuffed and then beaten. The police didn’t allow medical staff to get to the square until sometime in the afternoon. They weren’t allowed near the refrigerated trucks, which led to the rumours I mentioned before. I just can’t describe the outrage I feel right now. This is completely and utterly mad.

The US were muted in their response, unlike their response to the Iranian protests and the government reaction. This might be due to the fact that their MENA military fleet is stationed there. I’m just sick of their complete and utter hypocrisy. This is unacceptable. Anyway, there has also been a number of casualties in Libya, around 17 people have been killed. I will write more extensively about that tomorrow as I need to get back to work now. I am however going to keep an eye out for what is going to happen in Bahrain and Yemen as well. I just can’t believe how stupid the arab dictators are. Instead of responding to the early demands of  their people, which would keep them in power, they go on killing sprees that radicalise the movements and lead to their demise.

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