Do We Care About People Even if They Live in Bahrain?

Monday evening I went early to my local City Council meeting in Charlottesville, Va., where the council passed a resolution I supported against drones.

Going early in order to line up to speak means conversing with a Fox News viewer or two who always go super early in order to speak first.  One nice and beautifully unapathetic, but deeply misinformed woman, has on more than one such occasion let me know what a threat to our safety the evil Iranians are and how tyranical the Iranian government. 

At the January meeting, as she seemed to be outraged about 1979 as if it were yesterday, I asked if she remembered 1953.  She was old enough to remember that year, as I am not, and she proudly said so.  But she had no idea what had happened then, so I tried to tell her.

This month, as we were waiting and talking, I got a phone call from a Bahraini man who has been emailing me for a long time and whom the government of Bahrain, he says, has tried to kill.  I asked my fellow citizen if she had ever heard of Bahrain, if she knew where it was, if the outrages committed by its government disturbed her.  Of course she knew nothing about it.  The Pentagon approves of Bahrain, because the U.S. Navy keeps its ships there.  So, Fox News says nothing.

Yusuf Omran Jasim Omran Abdullah describes himself as follows.  He is 31 years old and married with a son.  He is the director of a company building and repairing ships.  He studies applied sciences.  He’s from the capital, Manama, and participated in the Arab Spring protests at the Pearl roundabout.  He made use of FaceBook and Twitter communications to 70,000 followers.

He moved to work with the Bahraini opposition in Beirut for six months and then to Iraq for a year to do the same.  “Because of my activity as a media activist and political and human rights and legal blogger,” he says, “the Bahrain government attacked my flat and destroyed my property.” The government, he says, has publicly threated to never let him live in peace or return to Bahrain.

Yusuf has been in Germany for a month and a half seeking political asylum.  Meanwhile he is spreading the news about pro-democracy efforts in his home country, news like this from Monday from Occupy Bahrain:

“A mass protest marched the western district in Bahrain on Sunday following the opposition’s call for a two week program of daily protests as the 2nd anniversary of the start of the revolution that erupted two years ago on 14 February approaches.

“People of different factions and different ages participated in Sunday’s protest titled, ‘Change is Coming’. The protesters chanted slogans demanding the government to resign and insisting that their democratic demands must be responded to by making the people the source of all powers through fair and transparent elections.

“The masses also chanted slogans expressing anger towards the regime’s ongoing violations and crimes against dissident citizens through arbitrary arrests, killings, dismissals and pursuits, while at the same time, calling for dialogue.

“Streets leading to the protest were blocked by the regime forces’ military roadblocks and checkpoints in order to prevent the citizens from reaching the area. However, a large number of citizens insisted on attending the protest to express their opinions peacefully.

“Another mass protest is planned to march from Dair in Muharraq island today, within the two week escalation of peaceful pro-democracy protests.”





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