Thursday, April 7, 2011

No Tears for Bahrain

Though the syntax may be tortured, there's no denying foreign minister Kevin Rudd's deep concern for the people of Benghazi: "If we hadn't done anything, as of 2 weeks ago, we'd be talking tonight about the butchery of Benghazi... and 700,000 people, big city, whack, Gaddafi up the middle of it, gone." (Q & A, 4/4/11)

And when Israeli settlers are murdered in still mysterious circumstances, Kevin ('Support for Israel is in my DNA') Rudd goes positively ballistic: "This is a despicable act of terrorism." (Australian Government condemns attack on Israeli family, Media Release, 13/3/11)

But for some reason, when it comes to Bahrain, the best he can come up with is "We urge all sides to avoid violence and exercise restraint," and even that was over 6 weeks ago. (Unrest in the Middle East, Statement, 18/2/11)

Meanwhile, back in Bahrain, the people are currently doing their level best to follow Rudd's advice, avoiding violence (not always successfully though, especially when it comes looking for them at 2 in the morning), and exercising such incredible restraint (especially when bound hand and foot in prison) that you don't even here a peep from them anymore (except, maybe, for the odd scream or three):

"A source sent me this: 'It seems like the Bahraini government has finally succeeded in its crackdown. Yesterday, they closed down the country's only opposition newspaper, Al Wasat, and then reopened it with a new pro-government editor... Everyone in Bahrain is silent now. No one is talking. Human rights activists, journalists and bloggers who used their real names have completely disappeared. Many have been jailed while others are in hiding. Mohammad al-Masqati, a human rights activist in his mid-20s has been in jail for the past 5 days. He was first threatened by a member of the royal family on twitter and was then arrested. His family has apparently spoken to him only once so far. Businessmen and CEOs are also being interrogated for not firing striking workers and cutting their wages. Most of them are no longer in control of their companies, and mass firings have begun. Most are simply too scared to take a stance. Very few people are tweeting or posting on Facebook. Even those not using their real names are scared. Shia families living in mixed neighborhoods are moving out after receiving threatening letters or being threatened at checkpoints. People speak in code on the phone and constantly declare their loyalty to the government just in case. I feel that Bahrain has turned into a Syria or Iraq (during Saddam's era). Even Bahrainis abroad are too scared to speak. We are definitely back in the 90s, but it is worse because the army is more brutal and there is a disgusting sectarianism and blatant discrimination against Shia. So I would say that Bahrain now is a mix of Syria and Palestine. The media is completely silent and the Obama administration has completely stopped commenting on Bahrain. I feel that the next 10 years or so will be a horrible period for Bahrain. While other Arab countries are moving forward, we are going backwards." (Update on Bahrain,, 5/4/11)

"Another source from Bahrain: '... Bahraini officials are constantly attempting to delude everyone with the peaceful atmosphere in the country. There is a real fear in the capital. That is why so many people choose to refrain from demonstrating. There are no clear 'activities' from either side in the streets there. However, I can give you a more solid image about the situation: many areas around the capital are identical in their misery with the suburbs of Lebanon, where you can see a place filled with Solidere-esque developments, and then, two streets on, a crumbling residential area with no government support. In these places, abductions and violence are being waved in peoples' faces. The way people are dealt with by the Bahraini and Saudi forces is extemely violent, to the brink of unjustified hatred. It feels like a gun is being pointed at the back of your head, at your thoughts, your words, your undisclosed opinions... Even though the opposition parties in Bahrain have that line they won't cross with the self-appointed 'king', a great percentage of the demonstraters consider him a criminal. They point out that he wore his military uniform before the first night assault on Pearl roundabout." (The mood in Bahrain,, 6/4/11)

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