At the start of the Arab Spring major protests broke out against the monarchy in Bahrain. Protesters initially focused on greater political freedom and equality for the majority Shia Muslim population, but after security forces killed four and injured dozens on February 17, 2011, calls for the king to go grew more common.
Over the next month, protests against the monarchy gained in strength with 200,000, a quarter of the country's adult population, marching on February 22, 2011. The regime looked to foreign security forces for protection.
A day after these well-armed foreign soldiers arrived, the Bahraini king declared martial law and a three-month state of emergency. The regime also began late night raids in Shia neighborhoods. They've arrested thousands, including bloggers, internationally recognized human rights activists and doctors accused of caring for injured protesters.
Fast-forward to present day, Bahrain is trying to exist as it did prior to the Arab Uprising protest, covertly quieting opposition movements and looking to create a facade that interest foreign investors.
The Bahrain monarchy, unlike the protests that existed around the Arab Spring, Bahrain is being more systematic in their repression by targeting instrumental opposition figures. They have completed this task in three major ways; punishing teachers, targeting doctors, and midnight raids on opposition leaders homes.
In their task to repress the teachers, the Bahrain monarchy views teachers as “educators who are champions of human rights, democracy and equality for all.” Therefore, it can be seen that Bahrain’s regime attacks on the rights and freedoms of teachers can only be viewed as an attack on education and human rights. Especially in the case that “Mahdi Abu Dheeb and Jalila Al Salman, the President and Vice President of the Bahraini Teachers' Association (BTA), were sentenced to ten and three years in prison respectively by a military court in September 2011.” This repression of the figure heads of the BTA seems to be a direct threat to other Bahraini teachers to reevaluate their opposition and instead quiet their opinions.
With the violent crackdown of almost every Bahraini protest, the doctors have been a key role in keeping protesters alive. However, the Monarchy ignored the pleas for medical neutrality and allowed “security forces to attack medics and bring hospitals under military occupation.” After the hospital occupation, medical workers were detained and interrogated. This disregard for human rights at the medical level is another statement from the Bahraini regime that “politically motivated” aid will not be tolerated and that medical officials will be continually harassed until they alter their motives.
“Bahraini authorities are carrying out home raids and arbitrarily detaining opposition protesters in advance of the Formula 1 Grand Prix.” This precise conduct of raids, suggest that officials are more focused with attaining protesters out of sight for the Formula 1 race than with addressing the protests that have led so many Bahrainis to take to the streets. These raids seem to be a symbol as the Bahraini monarchy moving past the protest of 2011 and their commitment to reform. Instead, it seems that Bahrain is once again focusing on creating an atmosphere and country that is comfortable for foreign interest and not of the Bahraini public.
1. AL-SAFFAR, RULA. "Bahrain's Continuing War on Doctors." Foreign Policy. Foreign Policy, 10 Apr. 2013. Web. 2013.
2. Human Rights Watch. "Bahrain: Targeted Raids and Arbitrary Detentions | Human Rights Watch." Bahrain: Targeted Raids and Arbitrary Detentions | Human Rights Watch. Human Rights Watch, 10 Apr. 2013. Web. 2013.
3. Ahlul Bayt News Agency. "Bahrain Punishes Teachers." N.p., 8 Apr. 2013. Web.