The continued incarceration of activists and the arrest of Maryam al-Khawaja of Bahrain Center for Human Rights on the trumped charge for insulting the King is adding to the already seething public anger towards the Royal Family.
Khawaja, the co-director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, is the daughter of Shia Muslim activist Abdulhadi Abdulla Hubail al-Khawaja, who has been in custody in Bahrain since 2011 and is on hunger strike.
Bahrain also had the audacity to declare, in July, US Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labour Tom Malinowski persona non grata after he had met with opposition figures in the kingdom.
The trouble began in 2011 when the majority Shiite population rose up against the Royal family (minority Sunnis) and demanded equal opportunities (social, economic, political). The government put down the protest with an iron fist killing, maiming and jailing protesters.
In an interview with Live Encounters, Said Yousif AlMuhafdha Vice President and the Head of the Monitoring and documentation Unit of Bahrain Center for Human Rights said: LINK
The Al Khalifas, is a Sunni family that controls the Shia-majority population since 1783. They are supported by the USA, UK and Saudi Arabia among other countries. Because the Al Khalifas are Sunni they are supported by Saudi Arabia. The Saudis have even sent troops into our country to quell the massive popular protests (that seek to bring about a democratic state) for fear that the agitation may spread to their own country. Bahrainis are subjected to inhumane treatment. The financial benefits from the oil industry do not percolate down to the masses. The Saudis are aware of the power of the people and are apprehensive that if Bahrain does become a democratic state it would only be a matter of time before it spreads to Saudi Arabia – a country that seriously lacks basic civil and human rights.
Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa has been the Prime Minister of Bahrain from 1970, taking office nearly two years before Bahrain’s independence on 16 December 1971. He is the longest-serving current prime minister in the world! Therefore, we don’t have a democracy, no free and fair elections just a government ruled by one family. We have been fighting to change this system, to remove these dictators.
The situation is grim and many Bahrainis have borne the brunt of the ruthlessness of the state. BCHR continues to pay a high cost for the promotion and support of human rights and the call for the formation of a democratic state. We will continue to fight for our freedom despite the violence perpetrated by the state.
Bahrain is on the verge of exploding. Perhaps the Al Khalifas should listen to what their people want and engage them instead of beating and jailing those fighting for civil liberties. And if they don’t…then… sooner rather than later the streets will once again be filled with protesters and this time there will be no going back.