Bahrain’s Al Khalifa regime attempts to distract world attention from trial of activists

JNN 10 May 2011 : King Hamed ibn Isa al- Khalifa announced plans Sunday to lift Bahrain’s emergency rule on June 1, two weeks earlier than the official end of the three-month rule, imposed March 15 in an attempt to halt anti-government unrest. 

The announcement by King Hamad appeared timed to distract a world audience from the trial of activists accused of attempting to overthrow the monarchy amid protests by the pro-democracy protestors, The Los Angeles Times reported.

At least 30 people have been killed since protests began in February in Bahrain, which hosts the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.

In a speech last month, the country’s crown prince defended the government crackdown.

King Hamed’s declaration that he would suspend martial law early gave no details of what would take its place, including whether the nighttime curfew would end or the numerous checkpoints be dismantled, according to the Associated Press.

‘Bahrain collective punishment ignored’ 

The West has been criticized for turning a blind eye to the ongoing collective punishment of the Bahraini people by the Saudi-baked Manama regime.

“What is going on in Bahrain is very serious. We have the demolition of 20 mosques by the Saudi-backed occupation. We have the demolition of houses, mass sacking of opposition supporters that is a collective punishment on the opposition that is the majority of the population of Bahrain,” Middle East expert Chris Bambery said in an interview with Press TV.

Bambery said collective punishment has been illegal under international law since World War II, but the West has failed to acknowledge the dire situation in Bahrain.

He voiced concern over the killing of protesters, demolition of mosques and the arrest and disappearance of physicians and doctors for treating wounded protesters.

“There has been left a tiny number of human rights organizations, human rights watches who express concern about the growing number of arrests,” Bambery said.

“There is a very little coverage of what the Saudi occupation forces are doing in Bahrain,” he added.

He argued that the arms dealing has been a major factor behind the West’s, and particularly Britain’s, support of the Al Saud and al-Khalifa regimes in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain respectively.

“Bahrain is a major financial center where Britain and America have major investments,” Bambery said.

“We saw (British Prime Minister) David Cameron touring the Middle East after the Egyptian revolution with a bevy of arms merchants trying to sell British arms in the Middle East,” he added.

Cameron and other leading Conservative cabinet ministers have long- standing ties with Bahrain.

Since coming into office, the UK coalition government granted permission for weapons sales to countries across the Middle East and North Africa.

British arms manufacturers sell crowd control products, including CS hand grenades, demolition charges, smoke canisters and thunder flashes, to the Bahrain government.

Anti-government protesters have been holding peaceful demonstrations across Bahrain since mid-February, calling for an end to the al-Khalifa dynasty’s over-40-year rule.

On March 14, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates deployed police and military forces in the kingdom upon Manama’s request to help quell the nationwide protests.

According to local sources, scores of people, including human rights campaigners, have been killed — some under torture — and hundreds of others are held in custody.

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