Occupy Bahrain

This is a round up of the social protests in Bahrain from the 15-18th of December. Above is a video of Bahrain human rights activist, Zainab Alkhawaja, being roughly arrested on Thursday 15th of Dec. Alkhawaja blogs about political topics at Angry Arabia. At the time of her arrest, she was conducting a peaceful protest for Occupy Budaiya Street (in solidarity with the global Occupy Wall Street movement).

In the video above, Alkhawaja is seen sitting alone on the ground of a main street of Manama, Bahrain’s capital city. Up until she was picked up by police (literally hoisted off the ground), Alkhawaja was tweeting that the riot police seemed not to know what to do with the protesters’ pacifist tactics.

Robert Mackey, from The Lede  (The New York Times) reports that Alkhawaja had recently given a couple of high profile media interviews with ‘Western’ journalists Nicholas Kristof (NYT) and The Lede where she was highly critical of the Bahrain Government’s human rights violations and their lack of regard for civil liberties. A second woman activist was arrested along with Alkhawaja. The Lede further reports that a Times journalist captured photographs of other peaceful women activists being tear gassed by police later on Thursday evening.

On the 15th of Dec, Freedom House reported that a third activist had been arrested. Freedom House is calling for the protesters’ release. Daniel Calingaert, vice president for policy and external relations at Freedom House, says:

The fact that these arrests took place while U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner is visiting the country raises serious questions about the royal family’s commitment to respect human rights… The Obama administration should base its engagement with the Bahraini government on its actions, not the words in a report.

Since then and in large part due to Alkhawaja’s arrest, the protest has grown considerably. Protesters have maintained a pacifist approach, with police using tear gas intermittently.

Nicholas Kristof reports in the New York Times that tear gas is used routinely on citizens, and that it is being supplied by private American companies. Kristof says: ‘America’s best known export here in Bahrain is tear gas’.
Much of the riot police aggression is being reported upon via Twitter.

On the 16th of Dec @chanadbh tweeted a picture of a woman standing defiant as the protesters at the Abu Saiba roundabout were tear gassed.


Photo: source.

On the 17th of Dec at 11:30 pm Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST), Bahraini journalist @MazenMahdi tweeted that hundreds of protesters were conducting a peaceful sit-in along the Budaiya Highway.

On 18th of Dec at 12:13am AEST, @anmarek tweeted that the protesters were mostly women.

Around the same time, @chanadbh tweeted a picture of a protester holding up flowers to the riot police. Video shows peaceful protesters sitting before police besieged them.

Also on the 18th, around 6am AEST, @MohmdAshoor tweeted ‘Is this what they consider threatening? a picture 10 minutes before the attack’, with the following pic:


Still on the 18th Dec, 613pm AEST: EA WorldView posted this chilling video of police throwing gas and brutally hitting protesters. Warning – the violence is graphic and age-restricted on YouTube. Banijamrah News posted another video of various scenes where peaceful protesters are attacked with gas and also where protesters fight back at the police by throwing stones.

630pm AEST: @Humanpearl posted a video of more tear gas being thrown on protesters, whom he says are chanting the word ‘peaceful’ in the background.

It is an absolute understatement to say how badly we need an applied sociological analysis of police behaviour during protests. The current global patterns from the USA, Australia, Russia, Wukan (China), Egypt and many other places are strikingly similar.


Links to Alkhawaja’s arrest video and The Lede report via: @NickKristof