Bahrain ex-MP speaks about repression

January 29, 2016
Former member of Bahrain's parliament Jassim Hussain.

A former member of Bahrain's parliament, Jassim Hussain, who resigned in protest at the repression of the 2011 reform movement, spoke about the current situation in Bahrain and the broader Gulf region on January 24.

Hussain said the falling price of oil has caused economic problems for the Gulf States. They have also spent a lot of money on the wars in Yemen and Syria.

As a result, there have been cuts to government subsidies for meat, fuel and electricity, as well as cuts to unemployment and retirement benefits.

Repression continues in Bahrain. At least 300 people have been stripped of their citizenship. The media is restricted: for example, al-Wasat newspaper was banned for two days because of a report on the war in Yemen.

Hussain said the "mainstream opposition" does not demand regime change. Instead it calls for reforms such as an end to discrimination, more transparency, the rule of law, and the empowerment of parliament.

The US has expanded its naval base in Bahrain and a new British base is being built. Some in the opposition hoped that the US might pressure the Bahraini government to make changes, but they have been disappointed.

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