Bahrain: Appeals for protest and solidarity

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 today’s youth.

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,

The Bahraini 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 military tanks.

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 constitution.

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.

We 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.

Hussein Ureybi
Coordinator general for external relations
Progressive Democratic Forum

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Sun, 02/20/2011 - 14:47


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 exile.

Notably Bahrain is the sole Gulf state that has a sizeable indigenous working class, and thus a real trade union movement.

There 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.

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Sun, 02/20/2011 - 14:56


Welcome to علمانيون بحرينيون ضد الاستبداد

"Bahraini Seculars Against Oppression"

Who are We?

A group of Bahraini Secular Youth Supportive of the #Feb14 Youth Movement. We aim for democratic change and to gather all the Bahraini leftist youth.

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 ؟؟

مجموعة 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

لا للتجنيس، نعم لحرية الشعب في تقرير المصير

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Sun, 02/20/2011 - 15:04


Posted on 02/16/2011

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.

Persian Gulf

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.

Ali Salman

Ali Salman

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.

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Sun, 04/10/2011 - 16:35


By the International Trade Union Confederation

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

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: <>.