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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Bahrain and Syria

Protesters in Manama, Bahrain, 2011

Bahrain, neighbor of Saudi Arabia and Qatar and also a US ally, routinely discriminates against its Shia majority. When there was toruble, Saudi Arabia sent over some troops to bash heads. Bahrain started back in 2011 put civilians on trial in military courts.


The seven men who went on trial in Bahrain on Thursday have made history as the country's first-ever civilians to be tried before a military court. Facing the death penalty, they've been sequestered in an unknown location for weeks and accused of murdering two policemen by running them over with a car. They've had no communication with family or friends since being taken into custody last month. Human rights activists fear they have been subjected to torture. More worrisome, they have been denied access to legal counsel and face trial proceedings sealed to the public. The Bahrain News Agency said the seven men have pleaded not guilty to all charges against them.
It is the first trial to be publicly announced since the country fell under martial law on March 15, when the Sunni regime (and U.S. ally) began a severe crackdown on the opposition, a campaign that has seen about 500 mostly Shi'a anti-government supporters arrested and held incommunicado. "Putting civilians to military court is a surprise," says Nabeel Rajab, head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. "The government has taken it too far."
Rights advocates fear that a conviction in this case may start a wave of death penalties for activists in the island Kingdom, which has rarely imposed such a sentence. The last time Bahrain handed out a death penalty was two years ago. (And according to state media, the military court in Bahrain convicted four Shi'ite protesters and sentenced them to death for the killing of two policemen during anti-government demonstrations last month in the Gulf kingdom. The three other Shi'ite activists, who were also on trial, were sentenced to life in prison for their role in the policemen's deaths.)
Bahrain is our ally, Bashar Al Assad is not. Simple as that.
Back on March 5, Mr. Kerry said he was concerned about human rights in Bahrain.

I have a feeling Mr Obama is itching for his own "Mission Accomplished" moment in Syria.
God forbid this arrogance crashes about our heads like Mr. Bush's Iraq moment did.


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