Throughout 2011 much of the Middle East has been engulfed by political turmoil and unrest; Egypt, Yemen, Libya and Syria. Much of this upheaval has received coverage to the point of saturation by the western media. Furthermore, throughout this time the US State Department, and the governments of most other western nations have supported democratic reforms and regime change. One exception has been the Kingdom of Bahrain. Very has little been shown and very little has been said. One exception was the excellent coverage provided by SBS' Dateline program, with journalist Yarra Bou Melhem. This program, entitled Bahrain's Dark Secret aired on Sunday 3 April, 2011. Sadly, this has been one of the very few programs in Australia to expose the horrendous violation of human rights issues in Bahrain. While protesters are no longer taking to the streets, the political regime which supports King Hamed ibn Isa Khalifa continues to intimidate and harass people in their hundreds and thousands.
The great sadness in all of this is the silence of the western powers who have been deafening in their condemnation of Gadafi, Assad, Moubarak etc.
Why does the United States (in particular) remain silent despite the ongoing and increasing atrocities being committed in Bahrain? Surely the convenience of having its Navy's 5th Fleet based there hasn't bought its silence?
While quickly and rightfully condemning the human rights violations and abuses in Libya, Syria and other parts of the Middle East, the United States has remained disturbingly silent throughout the last two months as Bahrain's regime has actively engaged in the suppression and persecution of the Shiite majority.
In response to protests calling for democratic reforms people have been gassed, shot and attacked in the streets; summarily dismissed from their workplaces (by the hundreds) arbitrarily placed under curfew and house arrest subject to ongoing harassment and intimidation.
Security forces have arrested, detained and tortured hundreds of people. The whereabouts of most are unknown. Even hospitals have become a target for the attacking of political opponents, and innocent bystanders and the medical staff who seek to treat them.
Although condemned by Human Rights groups around the world the response of the United States and other western nations has been ... silence. When the demonstrations first broke there were one or two 'voices of concern but these have been very quickly muted.
The moral high ground is quickly lost when one acts out of vested interest rather than a concern for the common good. The credibility of the United States and other western nations, especially in the Middle East, would be raised immeasurably if they acted consistently out of common interest, not self interest.
The Kingdom of Bahrain must be held to account! Its security forces threaten the lives of ordinary citizens, innocent civilians. People who have lived and worked in Bahrain all of their lives, and who have contributed to the social and economic capital of the country are suddenly being persecuted because they are Shiite Muslim and are considered to be a threat. No area of society has been tainted by the regime ... engineers, teachers, doctors have all lost their jobs. Even Bahrain's national soccer team has been purged. Men have gone from national heroes to national villains.
The real villains are those who seek to use religious differences as a means of justifying prejudice and hatred. These are the criminals who are changing Bahrain from a socially cohesive nation to one of sectarian division and violence. This regime must be held to account and the western nations, most especially the United States, and the media of free and democratic nations cannot remain silent.
We, the undersigned, call on the Australian Government, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to formally convey to the Government of Bahrain its deepest concerns about the current violations of Human Rights in that country and to lobby the United States Government through its Ambassador to Australia to formally condemn the actions of the Bahraini regime, which acts in the name of King Hamed ibn Isa Khalifa.
Most specifically, these concerns relate to the ongoing violation of fundamental human rights, which has given rise to unprecedented violence against the citizens of Bahrain. People have been gassed, shot and attacked in the streets; summarily dismissed from their workplaces (by the hundreds) arbitrarily placed under curfew and house arrest subject to ongoing harassment and intimidation arrested, detained and tortured.
We ask that the Australian Government, where appropriate, raise this issue at the United Nations.
We ask that the Australian Government give special consideration to the ongoing humanitarian crisis, especially in regards to peoples' eligibility for refugee status.
We, the undersigned, also call upon Soccer Australia to express its deepest concerns with the crisis to its counterpart federation in Bahrain and to suspend all future fixtures with that nation until human rights violations are ended.
The Stop Human Rights Violations in Bahrain NOW petition to Australia was written by Anthony Cleary and is in the category Politics at GoPetition.