Bahrain authorities open fire on protesters on February 18, 2011. The protesters are chanting "peacefully, peacefully".
On February 14, dubbed the "Day of Rage," Bahraini activists organised a
mass rally in Manama to call for political reform in Bahrain, where the
Khalifa Dynasty has ruled for nearly 200 years. Bahraini authorities
responded brutally to the protest, killing as many as nine people and injuring many others. On February 18, soldiers near the Pearl roundabout in Manama fired upon pro-democracy protesters, with at least 66 people injured, several with gunshot wounds to the head and chest. Opposition political leaders
have rejected the royal family's call for a "national dialogue". Also on February 18, reported Al Jazeera, thousands observed funerals for the four people killed in a pre-dawn raid on a protest campment at the Pearl roundabout a day earlier. Riot police had used clubs, tear gas and bird shot to break up the crowd. They tore down their tents, and blockaded the roundabout with
police vehicles and barbed wire. More than 200 were wounded in that
raid. At the funerals, many chanted slogans against Bahrain's ruling Al Khalifa family.
On February 19, Al Jazeera reported, thousands of protesters reoccupied the Pearl roundabout after troops and riot police retreated from the symbolic centre of their anti-government uprising. The cheering protesters carrying Bahraini flags, flowers and signs that said "Peaceful, peaceful" marched to the traffic circle on Saturday. They chanted, "We are victorious." Protesters kissed the ground in joy and took pictures of about 60 police vehicles leaving the area.
Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, the crown prince, had earlier in the day ordered the military to withdraw, saying that the police would now be responsible for enforcing order, the Bahrain News Agency reported. Soon after the crown prince's directive, protesters attempted to stream back to the roundabout, but were beaten back by the police. According to the Reuters news agency, about 80 protesters were taken to a hospital after being hit by rubber bullets or teargas.
The protesters, however, were successful in the next attempt, after riot police withdrew as well from the traffic circle.
An appeal from activists inside Bahrain
February 15, 2011 -- The Progressive Democratic Forum expresses deep condolences to the masses of Bahraini people, the families of martyrs and Fadel Ali Mushaima, who was shot at the hands of security forces, which brutally dealt with
young people who marched [on February 14] in peaceful marches to demand constitutional
rights, and better political and living conditions.
Those who were martyred in less than 24 hours have joined the martyrs of our people for democracy and
political rights and for a free and dignified life.
Generations of Bahrainis from various sects and groups have struggled
to end the monopoly of power and wealth, and this is demanded by
The Progressive Democratic Forum deplores the excessive use of force by security
forces, demands respect for the rights of the people to demonstrate to
demand their rights. Repression will only worsen the situation in the
country, and will not stop the protesters claiming their goals.
In the opinion of the Progressive Democratic Forum the conditions in our
country in this critical period requires a breakdown of powers, renewed
political and social development in the country, and the two communities,
Alkarimtin Sunni and Shia, to form a national body (such as the
National Union in the 1950s), to embrace the people’s rights and
demands for constitutional political and economic reform, preserving and
protecting the fabric of people’s national unity.
Eternity to the memory of martyrs and Fadel Ali Mushaima.
Victory for the will of the people.
Appeal for solidarity
February 17, 2011
Dear comrades of various leftist parties and organisations,
people went out on the streets on February 14, the 10th anniversary
of the National Action Charter -- the national reform document on which
people voted in a referendum in 2001, with 98.4% in favour.
The people have decided to demand that the royal regime start to implement
the political reforms it promised. The demands include the beginning of effective procedures towards reforming the political regime, combatting
corruption, abolishing racist and sectarian discrimination in Bahrain and guaranteeing fair distribution of wealth.
These protests were faced
with a crazy reaction from the Bahraini authorities, the number of
casualties until now is seven so far. This repressive campaign continueswith the use of live ammunition, blocking entrances to a number of villages and
towns, raiding and attacking homes, in addition to the spreading of armed
This repressive attack is
considered an abandonment by the government of the reform project which
guaranteed to the people their right to protest as per the 2002 Bahraini
Henceforth, we call on all Arab and
International organisations to begin a protest campaign to expose
these practices of the Bahrain authorities and to protest in front of
Bahrain embassies and UN headquarters in their countries and to
maintain contact with human rights organisations regarding this matter.
also call on them to send protest letters to those embassies or to
the Bahrain Ministry of Foreign Affairs against these policies. The Bahraini
people await your courageous stance for its struggle for its legitimate
right to live in freedom, justice and dignity.
Our path as you know is rough
and filled with thorns, death on all sides ... but we will march on.
Please send your solidarity appeal to: the MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS (MMFF),
Phone: +973-17227555 +973-17227555
Fax: +973-17212603, +973-17210575, +973-17225107
Bahrain's Progressive Democratic Forum appeals for solidarity
By Hussein Ureybi
Bahrain's Progressive Democratic Forum issues the following
statement as the Bahrain's rulers deploy riot police and mercenaries to
attack peaceful protesters camped in Pearl Square.
February 17, 2011 -- MRZine -- Security forces raided at dawn today on Pearl Square, which was the
centre of protests in the Bahraini capital Manama, and used all means of
force, including exploding bullets, to disperse the protesters and to
seize the square.
This led to the deaths of at least five people and injuries to hundreds
of others. They also surrounded the Sulamanieyh hospital where the
wounded and the martyrs were supposed to be taken. The Bahraini
people's protests were peaceful in every sense of the word.
We are calling for reform, social justice and negotiation with the
executive power. The video footage shows a peaceful crowd chanting as
they receive a barrage of rubber bullets and tear gas.
Everything was normal until 1 am, but then the treacherous security
forces attacked the protesters, including women and children, beat
foreign media correspondents and confiscated their cameras.
The security forces are still surrounding the entrances to a number of villages and searching homes.
What we've seen are dozens of tanks deployed in different areas of Bahrain and news reports on the use of Saudi military.
We invite you to call for a demonstration of solidarity in front of
Bahrain's embassies or any of the headquarters of the United Nations and send messages of protest to the embassies of
Bahrain and international agencies in your countries.
That the Bahraini people need in these times the courage to struggle this tyrannical regime.
Coordinator general for external relations
Progressive Democratic Forum
The Bahraini left has a long and interesting history. The
communists was the largest political party in the 1970s, and vied to
take power. Repression was harsh and many cadres spent 1-2 decades in
Notably Bahrain is the sole Gulf state that has a sizeable indigenous working class, and thus a real trade union movement.
are two main left groups: Wa'ad
and the Progressive Democratic Tribune (or Forum)
Wa'ad is the legal continuation of the People's Front for the
Liberation of Bahrain, linked to PFLP.
The Progressive Democratic
Tribune is the legal continuation of the National Liberation Front --
Bahrain, the pro-Soviet communist party. Main political difference
between the two is tactics, how to build opposition front. Wa'ad is
somewhat more open to cooperation with the Shia islamists than the
Progressive Democratic Tribune.
group of Bahraini Secular Youth Supportive of the #Feb14 Youth
Movement. We aim for democratic change and to gather all the Bahraini
Our Demands are:
1. Calling for Reformation of the Regime 2. Guaranteeing Social Justice among the People of Bahrain 3. Combatting discrimination, sectarianism and divide-and-conquer tactics practiced by followers of the regime 4. Emptying prisons from political prisoners or what we call "prisoners of opinion 5. Holding the corrupt officials and executioners within the regime
Bahrain, we sacrifice our blood for you.. NO Sunni or Shiite .. We are all against sectarianism.. NO to random naturalization .. YES to the people's freedom to self-determination
من نحن ؟؟
من الشباب البحريني العلماني المؤيد لحركة شباب 14 فبراير و الذي يسعى
للتغيير الديمقراطي و يضم كافة شباب اليسار في البحرين، و يطالب بـ : 1. الدعوة الى اصلاح النظام. 2. ضمان العدالة الاجتماعية للشعب البحريني. 3. مكافحة التمييز والطائفية التي يمارسها ازلام النظام. 4. تبييض السجون من سجناء الرأي. 5. محاسبة الجلادين و المفسدين للنظام.
بالروح بالدم نفديك يا بحرين لا سني لا شيعي كلنا ضد الطائفية
What is at stake for Americans in the Bahrain unrest?
1. Bahrain is a major center for the refining of crude petroleum,
refining some 270,000 barrels a day. This amount is not large, but
given tight petroleum supplies and a price of over $100 a barrel for
Brent Crude, an outage there would certainly put up world prices.
2. Bahrain hosts a naval base for the US Fifth Fleet, important to
the US security architecture for the Persian Gulf (the Arabs say
Arabian Gulf). Nearly 2/3s of the world’s proven petroleum reserves and
45% of the world’s natural gas reserves are in the Gulf region.
3. Bahrain is an important finance center.
The Shiite majority is attempting to assert itself there. A
Shiite-dominated government in Bahrain might well demand a closure of
the US naval base. It would not be an Iranian puppet, insofar as Arab
Shiites are jealous of their independence and most Bahraini Shiites
don’t follow ayatollahs; but it would certainly have warm relations with
Tehran. A Shiite victory there would politically embolden other Gulf
Arab Shiites, in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates
(Shiites are a minority in all three). Insofar as Iran enjoys soft
power with the region’s Shiites, the net result would certainly favor
Iran and at least somewhat disadvantage the United States, which already
shot itself in the foot by helping install a Shiite government in
Baghdad that has excellent relations with Iran. For the Bahrain
government to become more democratic and more Shiite-influenced would
annoy the Wahhabi Saudi state, which now sees the Sunni Bahraini king as
a strategic asset.
Thousands of Shiite demonstrators came out yet again in Bahrain
on February 14. They are demanding that prime minister Sheikh Khalifa bin
Salman Al Khalifa step down. An uncle of the king, Sheikh Khalifa has
been appointed PM for four decades. The Shiite protesters want an
elected prime minister who would reflect their demographic dominance.
The killings of two demonstrators, one on Monday and another on
Tuesday, have helped to galvanize the crowds. In an unusual concession,
the king, Hamad Al Khalifa, apologized Tuesday for the deaths and promised that the shooters would be brought to justice.
The demonstrators thronged into the downtown Pearl Roundabout, and
some are insisting on spending the night there. The main Shiite
political party, with 18 seats in the lower house of 40 seats, is Wifaq.
It suspended its participation in parliament on Tuesday in protest against the killings of the two demonstrators.
Bahrain has a little over 1.2 million people, of whom 54 percent are expatriate guest workers,
nearly half of them from India. I can remember, on the occasions I
was in Manama, the way signs in Malayalam festooned the market and the
money-changer stalls. The other 568,000 are Bahrainis. Of these,
social scientists think about two-thirds, or about 374,000, are Shiites.
In turn, about 100,000 of these are Ajamis, i.e. Shiites of Iranian
heritage who are now Arabs. The rest are Baharna or indigenous Bahraini
Shiites, who mainly adhere to the conservative Akhbari school that does
not believe in following ayatollahs. Many of them live in rural
villages outside the capital.
The other 187,000 or so are Sunni Bahrainis, the community to which
King Hamad Al Khalifah belongs. He has reigned as king since 2002
(having come to power as emir in 1999).
In the Gulf, typically guest workers cannot vote and don’t have
permanent residency or a path to citizenship, though it is rumored that
the Sunni monarch, King Hamad Al Khalifa, has bestowed Bahraini
citizenship on some expatriate Sunnis in a so far vain attempt offset
the indigenous Shiite majority.
The Bahrain constitution lets the Sunni king appoint the 40 members
of the upper house of parliament. The lower house also has 40 members,
and in the 2010 election only 18 of them were captured by the Shiite
religious party, Wifaq, led by cleric Ali Salman. The other 22 went to
Sunnis of various stripes.
So, in a country where citizens are probably two-thirds Shiite,
Shiites have little representation in the senate and are a minority even
in the elected lower house. Not only can the Sunni-dominated upper
house veto measures passed by the lower house, but the king himself can
veto legislation at will and can prorogue parliament whenever he likes.
Many Shiites in rural areas are poor, despite Bahrain’s riches,
derived from its small petroleum industry, its vital finance sector, and
strategic rent from the US for the US naval base for the Fifth Fleet.
Wifaq not only seeks more equitable representation for the Shiite
majority but also a better economic deal for the poor.
4 April 2011: The ITUC denounces the wave of massive sackings, threats and violence against workers and their trade union representatives in Bahrain, in reprisal for their participation in legitimate strike and protest action for greater democracy in the country.
"The international trade union movement is extremely concerned at the large number of workers, including trade union representatives, who are being heavily penalised by the authorities simply because they exercised their legitimate rights to strike and to freedom of expression and assembly, following the widely-supported call for strike action by the national trade union centre GFBTU," said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow. "These dismissals are nothing less than a 'political purification' in workplaces. This is totally unacceptable and illegal."
"Such punitive actions, especially dismissals, for having taken part in legitimate demonstrations, is a flagrant violation of ILO Convention 111 concerning discrimination at work, which Bahrain has ratified, and of Convention 87 on Freedom of Association which Bahrain is obliged to respect. The ITUC will be pursuing this matter, and the situation in Bahrain in general, at the ILO including at the annual ILO Conference this June," added Burrow.
About 300 workers have been dismissed for taking part in the strike and in demonstrations, mainly from the aluminium company Alba (Aluminium Bahrain BSC) and the Khalifa Sea Port (driven by APM terminal). Around 40 workers have apparently also been dismissed by Gulf Air. Furthermore, the aluminium company Alba has announced that it will make its rules and procedures even tougher, notably through action in the courts against striking workers.
Abdul Ghaffar Abdul Hussain, President of the trade union at the Bahrain Petroleum Company (BAPCO), has been sacked for having "called on workers to take part in the general strike" and faces legal action in the coming days. The company management has threatened to take legal action against other members of the union as well.
Bahrain University is also the scene of heavy anti-union repression. The Vice President of the Bahraini Teachers' Association and four other members of the union's leadership were arrested on 29 March, and the union's General Secretary the following day. Nineteen students were also arrested, and the payment of salaries of certain lecturers and union members was stopped. Students supported by scholarships who participated in demonstrations have been punished by non-renewal of their scholarships.
With the GFBTU expecting the wave of sackings to flow to other key enterprises, the ITUC denounces the dismissals as "an economic massacre following the deplorable human massacre of the past few weeks".
The punitive policy being imposed on workers and their union representatives is all the more unacceptable given that the GFBTU called on workers to return to work, and received assurances from the authorities that there would be no punishment for those who participated in the industrial action. The GFBTU call for a return to work was done in order to promote a spirit of national dialogue and in the interests of the country's economy.
"These degrading and unjust actions must stop. The GFBTU, which has the absolute support of the international trade union movement, must be allowed to continue to protect its members and their legitimate rights, in line with the fundamental principle of freedom of association," said Burrow. "All forms of anti-union repression must stop immediately -- only negotiation can resolve the political and socio-economic problems facing Bahrain".
Since mid-February, when the unprecedented popular protests started, the Bahraini authorities' bloody repression, supported by troops from neighbouring Saudi Arabia, has caused the deaths of at least 20 people, while some 300 have been detained without any information available on where they are being held. Several dozen others have disappeared and 300 have been injured. Some of the most seriously-injured were further brutalised, and even chained to their beds, while medical staff were trying to treat them.
Teachers, doctors, artists, human rights defenders, cyber-activists, members of political parties and others face arrest, and the regime is also trying to stop the publication of the independent Al-Wasat newspaper. Armed thugs had already attacked the newspaper's printing shop some weeks ago.
The ITUC also condemns the replacement of workers who took part in strike action by non-strikers. It is especially concerned for migrant workers, who are simply seeking to make an honest living but whose lives are in danger due to the political machinations of the regime.*
* For more information, see ITUC OnLine of 1 April 2011: 'Bahrain: Political Exploitation of Migrants Puts Their Lives at Risk'.
The ITUC represents 175 million workers in 151 countries and territories and has 305 national affiliates. This statement was first published on the ITUC Web site; it is reproduced here for non-profit educational purposes. See, also, "Spotlight on Salman Jaffar Al Mahfoodh (GFBTU- Bahrain)" (ITUC OnLine, 3 March 2011); "Video message from Salman Jaffar Al Mahfoodh (GFBTU- Bahrain)" (10 March 2011). Cf. General Federation of Bahraini Trade Unions: <www.gfbtu.org>.