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Arab Spring: A Research & Study Guide * الربيع العربي: Bahrain

This guide lists online and print sources for what has become known as the "Arab Spring," the popular revolutionary wave in the Middle East and North Africa that started in December 2010.

Background ثورة 14 فبراير / ثورة الؤلؤ

[Also called the Pearl Revolution (ثورة الؤلؤ), or the February 14 Revolution (ثورة 14 فبراير)]

Ruled by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa since 1999, Bahrain is an absolute monarchy.

In February and March 2011, Bahrain experienced peaceful protests followed by brutal government repression, leaving over 30 dead, mostly demonstrators or bystanders. Prominent opposition leaders were sentenced to lengthy jail terms. Over 40 Shiite mosques and other religious structures were damaged or demolished. A witch hunt followed against erstwhile protesters who faced dismissal from jobs or worse. The protesters called for political reform and equality for the majority Shia population of Bahrain, with many demanding the downfall of the ruling family.  The protests found a focus at the Pearl Roundabout in the capital Manama, where a camp was set up.



______Before......................................................After____________________________

An early morning raid on the Pearl Roundabout by riot police on February 17, left a number of protesters dead and hundreds injured. On March 14, Gulf Cooperation Council troops (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates) were invited into Bahrain by the government, a “State of National Security” was announced, and a crackdown against protestors began. The Pearl Roundabout was attacked, cleared and the monument at its center razed.

Although a tiny island nation located in the Persian Gulf, Bahrain is a key strategic outpost for the U.S. Navy. Bahrain’s naval ports are the home away from home for the U.S. Fifth Fleet, which — because of its proximity to Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan — has played a more important role in the Iraq War than any other U.S. fleet in the world, and is also responsible for keeping oil shipping lanes in the Gulf secure.

Documents, Electronic Texts, etc.

  • Report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry / The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) [The Report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, released at the same time of its submission to King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa on 23rd November, can be downloaded in its entirety and is available on the homepage.]
  • Bahrain's rocky road to reform: Popular protest in North Africa and the Middle East /  International Crisis Group, 2011.
  • The Bahrain revolt. Popular protests in North Africa and the Middle East III
  • No justice in Bahrain : unfair trials in military and civilian courts / Joshua Colangelo-Bryan. New York : Human Rights Watch, 2012. PDF 90 p.] Central to Bahrain's crackdown on pro-democracy protests has been the use of special military courts as well as civilian courts. These courts have prosecuted and imprisoned hundreds of persons not for genuine criminal offenses but for what they wrote or said or for attending peaceful anti-government rallies. Based on more than 50 interviews with defendants, defense lawyers, and trial observers, and a comprehensive examination of available court records, this report finds that these trials repeatedly violated basic international fair trial standards, including denial of right to counsel and failure to investigate credible allegations of torture during interrogation. These violations are not simply a reflection of the poor practices of individual prosecutors and judges. They highlight serious, systematic problems with Bahrain's criminal justice system and the role of the military and intelligence services in state oppression. The report calls on Bahrain to conduct thorough and impartial investigations into violations by the Ministry of Interior, the Bahrain Defense Force, and the Public Prosecution Office, to prosecute those responsible regardless of rank, and to release those convicted solely for the exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. The report also calls on the United States, member states the European Union, and others to suspend all military and security-related sales and assistance to Bahrain until the government adopts measures to end serious human rights violations resulting from the  suppression of peaceful demonstrations and holding of unfair trials. (Map of Bahrain. -- Summary. -- Key recommendations. -- Methodology. -- I. Political prosecutions in special military courts. -- II. Fair-trial violations in special military courts. -- III. Civilian courts: the "terrorist network" trial. -- IV. Civilian courts: other national security cases. -- Acknowledgements. -- Appendixes.)
  • Flawed reforms  : Bahrain fails to achieve justice for protesters. (67 p.) London, England : Amnesty International, April 2012.  In November 2011, the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) completed its investigation into human rights violations committed following the anti-government protests in February and March that year. The King of Bahrain promised full implementation of BICI's recommendations, and in March 2012 the government announced that implementation was completed. Amnesty International welcomes various positive steps taken by the government to improve the human rights situation in the country, but notes that some of BICI's key recommendations have not been addressed properly. Scores of activists continue to be imprisoned after being convicted by a military court in proceedings that fell short of international standards. Investigations into cases of police torture and killing of civilians have not been sufficiently thorough and have targeted only the rank-and-file of the police force; those who gave the orders have not been held accountable. This report documents these and other failures by the Bahrain authorities to fully implement BICI's recommendations and commit themselves to getting accountability and justice for victims.
  • Weaponizing Tear Gas: Bahrain’s Unprecedented Use of Toxic Chemical Agents Against Civilians The Bahrain government’s indiscriminate use of tear gas as a weapon has resulted in the maiming, blinding, and even killing of civilian protesters and must stop at once while the government reassesses its use, PHR declares in a report by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR). PHR's Deputy Director Richard Sollom and co-author Holly Atkinson, MD, assistant professor of medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and former president of PHR, interviewed more than 100 Bahraini citizens during their April investigation, including victims of civil rights violations, corroborating witnesses, civil society leaders, and government officials. Their 60-page report—Weaponizing Tear Gas: Bahrain’s Unprecedented Use of Toxic Chemical Agents Against Civilians—documents their findings, based on physical examinations and medical records.

Social Media & Networks

BahrainRebuplic profile

Reports & Analyses