Freedom and Love in Bahrain

by andrewcagle

February 14th marks the one year anniversary of Bahrain’s struggle for freedom. It marks one year of protests, courage, and sacrifice. The story of Bahrain’s revolution rarely makes it to headlines in the US. The tiny island nation is not a prominent as Libya, Syria, or Egypt but their fight against oppression has been one of the longest now in the region.

Today, on the one year anniversary of uprisings in the capital of Manama, restrictions by the nation’s government will make it near impossible for journalists and human rights monitors to report from the ground. In an article today on Al Jazeera English, Brian Dooley of Human Rights First relayed his experience of failed attempts to procure a visa for visiting Bahrain this month. Dooley told Al-Jazeera, “About a week before I was going, I got a letter saying: ‘Do not come,’ Dooley said… People are bracing for something serious and probably bad to happen in the middle of February.” New York Times journalist, Nick Kristof, one of the most vocal advocates in the US media for the protestors in Bahrain has shared his frustrations the past week on Twitter. “Bahrain is keeping me out, journalists generally, not just me, to have a freer hand cracking down.” In the past year, Bahrain has dropped places to 173rd in press freedom rankings released by Reporters Without Borders.

The 2011-2012 Bahraini uprising, sometimes referred to as the February 14th Revolution, began in an effort to secure greater political freedom, equality for the nation’s majority Shia population, and tackle institutional corruption. Bahrain’s government is a constitutional monarchy ruled by a Sunni minority. One of the most striking images from last Spring’s protests in the Pearl roundabout was that of Bahraini men and women, standing defiant, wearing t-shirts that proclaimed “Ready to Die for Bahrain.” Over the past year, citizens have been killed, injured, imprisoned, and abducted as citizen protests have battled against security forces and abuses from the regime that amount to numerous human rights violations. Unfortunately, this did not stop the US government from approving a multi-million dollar arms deal to provide weapons to Bahrain’s authoritarian regime. You can read about the saddening US response to Bahrain’s revolution in a previous post here. The US has been relatively quiet on the struggle for freedom in Bahrain.

Today there will most likely be large protests and huge crowds will flood the streets of Manama in an effort to make their voice heard and presence known. Some of these activists, men and women, will pay a sacrifice for their courage. While the regime in Bahrain works to suppress the cries for freedom and darken the light of truth, it is our responsibility to help the voices of their struggle rise above it. This Valentines Day, let’s show the people of Bahrain the love and support they have earned. May their struggle continue until oppression is defeated.

Follow the revolution today live on AJE: http://blogs.aljazeera.net/liveblog/Bahrain

Follow/support the revolution on Twitter by searching/tagging: #Bahrain and #FreeBahrain

Peace, love, and freedom in Bahrain. To my friends in Manama, and the countless faces I don’t know, this American is with you.