Community Addresses Forgotten Violence in Bahrain

Community Addresses Forgotten Violence in Bahrain

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 DEARBORN, Mich — While media coverage of atrocities committed against peaceful protesters in the Gulf island nation of Bahrain has been spotty at best in the United States and even in many international and Arab world media outlets, local events have continued to spread awareness.
A string of rallies for Bahrain earlier this year in downtown Detroit, Dearborn, and in Washington, D.C. from locals were supplemented by an event at the Islamic Center of America on Thursday, May 26.

Raw footage of events in Bahrain, speeches by local Muslim leaders, displays showing the devastating and brutal human toll of violence by government and invading Saudi troops and more were all included as part of the ICA's "Bahrain: The Island of Fear" presentation, which drew around 150 guests on the evening.

A glossy booklet describing in detail the events of Bahrain's attempted peaceful revolution of hundreds of thousands against King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa was also distributed at the event.

Speakers noted that both the Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya TV networks were "silent" at key times during the events unfolding in Bahrain and that the people were peacefully rebelling against a ruling family that has been in power for more than 200 years.

Footage shown at the event including one scene of a peaceful protester being shot at nearly point-blank range in the street showed that the violence perpetrated against Bahrainis deserved more attention from the media and strong condemnations from world leaders, especially in the U.S., where such a declaration never came.

Guests were encouraged to write to their local, state, and national representatives to raise awareness of the plight of the people of Bahrain.

Quotes from American media members who were able to cover the atrocities committed in Bahrain were also posted through the halls of the ICA as part of the event.

The Doctors Without Borders organization noted that "health facilities were being used as bait to identify and arrest those who dare seek treatment (from) wounds, especially those inflicted by distinctive police and military gunfire," one banner stated, corroborating numerous reports on the ground about heartless violence against hospital workers.

Another featured quotes from Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter Nicholas D. Kristof on nearly unprecedented levels of brutality he encountered on assignment.

"A column of peaceful, unarmed pro-democracy protesters marched through the streets...they threatened no one, but their 21st-century aspirations collided with a medieval ruler," Kristof wrote on the situation.

"I've seen corpses of protesters who were shot at close range, seen a teenage girl writhing in pain after being clubbed, (and) seen ambulance workers beaten for trying to rescue protesters."

The popular news website Politico.com was also quoted, speaking what many believe is a hypocritical stance by the Obama administration on the situation.

"President Barack Obama calls Syria's response to its protesters abhorrent, but he loses his voice when it comes to Bahrain...He is apparently conceding to Saudi Arabia, whose rulers seem determined to stamp out any uncontrollable democracy (in the region)."

Human Rights First issued a statement that it is gravely concerned at reports that peaceful protesters in several locations across Bahrain have been attacked by security forces using teargas, buckshot and rubber bullets. This week marked the official lifting of Bahrain's State of Safety, but the crackdown appears to be continuing.

"We are hearing reports from Bahrain that protesters have been attacked by government forces. The wounded are staying away from hospitals fearing that they will be detained if they seek medical treatment. In another ominous development, human rights defenders are being summoned to report to police stations. The U.S. government must speak out against any attacks on peaceful demonstrations with at least the same urgency and level of concern that it has demonstrated elsewhere in the Middle East when pro-democracy protesters have been attacked," said Brian Dooley of Human Rights First.