On March 14 last year, four days before the NATO intervention in Libya, there was a less publicised Western-supported military intervention. A Saudi-led force invaded Bahrain to put down democracy protests against that country’s absolute monarchy.
Despite the repression, fresh protests have broken out. Press TV said on March 27 that thousands of Bahrainis rallied calling for the overthrow of King Hamad bin Isa and his Al Khalifa dynasty.
The protests were at the funeral of Ahmad Abdul Nabi, killed by tear gas at an earlier demonstration. Deaths through tear gas inhalation are common in Saudi-occupied Bahrain.
On March 26, the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights released a report documenting human rights violations since the publication of the Report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) last November 2011.
The report is a grim catalogue of extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests, torture and excessive use of force, political imprisonment and trials, religious discrimination, kidnappings, politically motivated sackings and harassment of the media.
On March 22, Al-Manar TV reported that Bahraini security forces kidnapped, beat and raped 16-year-old Ali Al-Sankees “due to his refusal to work with the Bahraini forces as an informant”.
Western media has echoed the Bahraini monarchy in characterising the opposition as a sectarian Shiite movement. Bahrain's ruling elite is drawn from the Sunni minority and the Shiite majority face discrimination.
However, a representative of the Coalition of February 14th Youth told Jadaliyya.com on March 22: “This is a big lie through which the Al-Khalifa regime seeks to mislead international public opinion … The first political prisoner since the revolution started is the Sunni, Muhammad al-Buflasa …
“How can it be called sectarian, when the goal of the revolution is for all citizens, whether Sunni or Shia, to become equal in their rights and duties ...
“The most prominent and most important slogan of this revolution is ‘We are brothers, Sunnis and Shias, and we will not sell out this country’.”