Secretary Clinton is Deeply Concerned About Events in Bahrain
Funerals are being held today for the peaceful protesters killed in Bahrain Thursday morning. Thousands are expected to attend, even while the capitol is on lockdown. (Update 6am EST: Thousands are marching in the streets of Manama; as of now, police and security forces are not moving to break up the demonstration.)(Update 9:55am EST: Nick Kristoff reports Police firing on protestors with tear gas and rubber bullets. Attacking protestors inside Manama hospital.)
From Washington, we heard this response to the brutal crackdown of the peaceful encampment in Manama:
Clinton telephoned her Bahraini counterpart on Thursday, the State Department said.
“She expressed deep concern about recent events and urged restraint moving forward. They discussed political and economic reform efforts to respond to the citizens of Bahrain,” a senior State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said.
A Pentagon spokesman, Colonel Dave Lapan, described Bahrain — home to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet — as a “long-time ally” and an “important partner,” adding that it was “closely watching developments.”
Those “closely watched developments” are horrific. The Al Jazeera video here shows the aftermath at just one of the three hospitals that were overwhelmed with victims – including their own staff. Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times provided video reports from the hospital, including one about a renowned plastic surgeon who was handcuffed by police, beaten and then threatened with rape – only saved from the latter when he fell unconscious. You can view them here.
Secretary Clinton is – remember – deeply concerned.
CNBC television news, citing U.S. military sources, said there was a significant amount of blood on King Faisal Highway, in a different part of the city than Pearl Square.
This report may provide worrying evidence of what has happened to the 60 or so people who remain missing – as well as persistent reports that military trucks removed a large number of unidentified bodies.
But remember, Secretary Clinton is deeply concerned.
@BahrainRights by maryamalkhawaja reports:
Hussain Alzayed -3rd martyr- is a nurse and was beaten to death by the security forces #bahrain
And Secretary Clinton is deeply concerned.
The response from England, where there was outrage over the use of British supplied weapons in these attacks, has been to launch:
… a review of arms exports to Bahrain after it emerged that the country’s security forces were supplied with weapons by the United Kingdom.
After a bloody crackdown in the capital, Manama, left up to five people dead and more than 100 injured, Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt said the government will “urgently revoke licences if we judge that they are no longer in line with the [UK and European Union] criteria”.
Despite long-running concerns among activists over Bahrain’s human rights record, British firms were last year granted licences, unopposed, to export an arsenal of sometimes deadly crowd control weapons. Licences approved included exactly the kind of weapons and ammunition used by Bahraini riot police to clear the Pearl Roundabout protest encampment, including shotguns, teargas canisters, “crowd control ammunition” and stun grenades.
Direct American aid to Bahrain is small – $21.7 million has been requested in the latest budget, all but a tiny fraction designated for Bahrain’s “security” sector.
U.S. assistance developed the capabilities that Bahraini police are using in Afghanistan and in Bahrain, and will contribute to other forms of counterterrorism and security cooperation with Bahrain, which is a major non-NATO ally. (Source: Congressional Budget Justification FY 2011)
The U.S. Office of Military Cooperation in Bahrain is attached to the U.S. Embassy and manages the security assistance mission. U.S. military sales to Bahrain since 2000 total $1.4 billion.
Secretary Clinton is deeply concerned – but not concerned enough to take similar actions to guarantee that US weapons and tax dollars are not spent on the bullets and batons that ravaged the Bahraini people last night. [updates from Bahrain and other Mideast countries following the jump]
Update: The Bahrain Center for Human Rights reports that McClatchy’s Nancy Youssef has been held for 10 hours as of 1:45 AM EST at the Bahraini airport by authorities. French and ABC reporters also being held. CNN has managed to get two in. (Later reports say 16 reporters are being held.)
Egypt We are all Khaled Said announced the Tahrir Square march today:
Friday is going to be a very vital day for our Revolution. We call it the “Victory Friday” The plan is to to do another 1 million person march in Tahrir square to make sure the military understand that we will not forget our rights, what we fought for & that they have to implement our demands quicker & very soon.
Libya With media completely blocked from reporting from Libya, news of the Day of Rage is almost impossible to track. There are estimates that 24 people were killed by police guns and cell phone videos are appearing on youtube but details are impossible to verify. A twitter account for “Libyan Youth Movement” seems to have pretty reliable information getting out from various locations – @ShababLibya
Iraq Aswat Al Iraq reports:
One protester was killed and 33 others wounded off the fourth branch of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) building in Sulaimaniya on Thursday, a medic said.
“A dead body and 33 people wounded were received by the Sulaimaniya Emergency Hospital after violence broke out when demonstrators calling for better services, an end to corruption and political reforms as well as support for the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia pelted the KDP’s fourth branch building with stones,” the medic told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.
Syria Zeinobia at Egyptian Chronicles has a report on a small demonstration in Syria.
Yemen Large protests are planned for today. Leading clerics have called for a new unity government to replace Saleh.
Photo source: Al Jazeera English, licensed under Creative Commons.