Sunday, April 24, 2011

"The Resistance Will Never Be Destroyed"

Leaving work on Friday I ran smack into this small but spirited solidarity protest apparently organized by Bahraini exiles in support of the now silenced revolutionary protest movement in that tiny Arabian Gulf nation. The protest was fenced into a small pen (f.u. NYC police!) on Seventh Avenue right below Times Square. They passed out flyers calling for "Justice for Bahrain!"

Bahrain, you will recall, is a tiny island kingdom that was gripped by a mass democracy protest about the same time as the uprising in Libya began. Hundreds of thousands of people occupied Pearl Square in a very small country, calling for democracy and reform. At precisely the moment the Western powers chose to intervene in LIbya, they greenlighted the crushing of the Bahraini democracy movement by the Bahraini monarchy acting in concert with military forces from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies. The U.S. has a military base in Bahrain and Obama was quick to avert his gaze lest the base be jeopardized. The forces of government repression actually destroyed the national "Pearl" monument at Pearl Square shortly after driving off the protesters to keep it from ever becoming a rallying point again.

The signs carried at the rally were a really interesting bunch: my favorite is the one of the now destroyed Pearl Square monument re-envisioned to show clenched fists holding up the iconic pearl of Bahrain's history. Notable also are the ones shown at top showing the link between the popular uprisings in Libya, Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt and Tunisia; and the one shown above "Not Shia Not Sunni Just Bahraini" giving the lie to the common media claim that the uprising was just a sectarian one (the majority of Bahrain's citizens are Shia though the monarchy is not; but the protesters were from both communities).

The protest called attention to ongoing repression against not only the democracy movement but against medical professionals who witnessed and treated victims of the government violence. And they call out the hypocrisy of the West's professed support of democracy movements elsewhere in the Middle East while remaining silent on the repression of the Bahraini people by the Bahraini and Saudi dictatorships. The organizers of the protest can be contacted on their facebook page, "Voice Against Oppression."

(Photographs by me, April 2011)


  1. Bahrain prince to skip UK royal wedding
    Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa declines British royal wedding invite amid criticism by activists following crackdown.

  2. There's a big Arab League summit of the region's rulers that keeps getting postponed also...the rulers are a little afraid if they all leave their countries the locks will be changed in their absence.

  3. this is good stuff, but i think we are kind of stuck now. would it look good to intervene in bahrain? yemen? i doubt it.

  4. Well you know me well enough to know I'm not advocating any intervention. That said, diplomatic pressures? Cutting off supplies and funding? A teeny tiny squeak of protest?

    And, ultimately, having a political system in place that doesn't play around with the lives of people in foreign countries in such manipulative ways. The apoint I'm trying to make is I bet regular Americans have a lot more in common with the people of Bahrain than with Kings and oil companies and corrupt politicians, Arab OR American.