Support Global Voices

To stay independent, free, and sustainable, our community needs the help of friends and readers like you.

Donate now »

See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Bahrain: Reactions after the riots and arrests

In another special roundup, we have the reactions of Bahrain's bloggers to the events of the last few weeks, when rioting took place after the death of a demonstrator during a commemoration of ‘Martyrs’ Day’, and many were subsequently arrested.

Talking to the world
MuJtAbA AlMoAmEn describes how events have developed:

مرت بلادنا الأسبوع الماضي في دوامة عنف ، استمرت ردود الفعل عليها حتى اليوم بل تكاد تتحول اليوم من مواجهات الاربعة أيام الأمنية ، إلى مواجهة إعلامية مفتوحة فالجميع يعمل على تثبيت وجهة نظره ، ولايكاد يمر علينا يوم إلا وسمعنا فيه عن حلقة حوارية في الفضائية الفلانية أو مشاركة من الناشط الفلاني في الإذاعة العالمية تلك
Our country has passed the last week in a spiral of violence, and reactions have continued until today. Indeed today, four days of security clashes have almost turned to open media confrontation, where everyone is striving to assert his point of view. A day barely passes that we don't hear of some satellite channel discussion, or the participation of some activist on international radio.

Rabab Ahmed points out that these days it's impossible to suppress information:

وكما تجدر الإشارة هنا، إلى أن عجلة الزمن تشير للقرن 21 م، حيث عصر الثورة المعلوماتية، ولا شيء يمارس هنا أو هناك، يسلم من تسليطه تحت أضواء وسائل الإعلام، وبالخصوص الشبكة العنكبوتية- الإنترنت- حتى ما يمارس تحت الطاولة. غير أن البعض لازال يعتقد بقدرته على إرجاعنا لحالة العتمة والتعتيم الإعلامي…
It is worth noting here, the wheel of time is pointing to the twenty-first century, the era of the information revolution, and nothing done here or there, escapes the lights of the media, and in particular of the World Wide Web, the Internet – even if done under the table. However, some still believe in their ability to return us to the state of darkness and media blackout…

You and whose army…?
Rayyash reports that the government seems to be using ‘militias’ in civilian clothing:

شاهد العديد من البحرينيين خلال المواجهات التي اندلعت الأسبوع الماضي في عدد من القرى والمدن البحرينية مشاركة قوات أمن بلباس مدني إلى جانب قوات الشغب العادية بقمع المتظاهرين والمشاركين في المسيرات السلمية.ويرى بعض المراقبين أن لجوء الحكومة البحرينية الى تشكيل ما بات يعرف بـ”الميليشيات”، يمثل تطورا خطيرا في تعاطيها مع قوى المعارضة.
During the clashes which broke out in a number of villages and towns in Bahrain last week, many Bahrainis witnessed security forces in civilian clothes participate alongside the usual riot police in the suppression of demonstrators and people taking part in peaceful marches. Some observers believe that the Bahraini government has resorted to forming what has become known as ‘militias’, representing a dangerous development in its dealing with opposition forces.

Sayyed Mahmood Al Aali is concerned about the same matter:

المتابع لشؤون الشارع البحريني هذه الأيام و المستمع لأخبار ضرب المعتصمين و تحول بعض قرى البحرين إلى سجن كبير يرى أن عملية مبادلة العنف بالعنف حالة مشروعة. و رغم أنني لا أدعو إلى العنف ولا أشجع عليه و من أنا لأدعو لمثل هذا الأمر، إلا أنني أرى أن مفهوم الدفاع عن النفس حالياً مرتبط بمقابلة العنف بالعنف. خاصة مع ظهور مسألة المليشيات المسلحة في صفوف قوات الأمن. هذه المليشيات تتبرأ منها وزارة الداخلية و تعلن أن هذه القوات ليست في صفوفها! بينما نرى في الكثير من التسجيلات بأن هذه القوات تساند قوات الأمن!
Those following the events of the Bahraini street these days, and those listening to the news of protesters being hit, and of the transformation of some Bahraini villages into large prisons, will find the act of exchanging violence for violence to be legitimate. And although I do not call for violence, nor encourage it (and who am I to call for such a thing), I nevertheless think that the concept of self-defence is currently tied to meeting violence with violence – especially with the emergence of the question of armed militias in the ranks of the security forces. The Interior Ministry denies any connection with these militias, and declares that they are not from their ranks! Whereas we see a lot of recordings showing them supporting the security forces!

Free Image Hosting at

Photo credit: Du'a Al Janabi (via Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights)

Feeling safe?
Ebtihal Salman has heard the official talk about forces used to maintain security, and has a question:

أمن من بالضبط؟ .. الحوادث الأخيرة والاعتقالات الهمجية تعيدنا إلى أجواء حقبة أمن الدولة، وفي الأغلب فهو الامن المقصود في بيان نواب الدولة، وليس أمن كل العوائل الأخرى التي لا تستطيع أن تعرف الأمن حين تكون تنتظر دورها في المداهمة..
Security of whom, exactly? … The recent incidents and savage arrests take us back to the atmosphere of the state security era. Generally it is the security that is intended in the statements of the country's deputies, not the security of all the other families, that are unable to know security when they are waiting their turn to be raided…

Keep them in check…
And Concerned Citizen X is furious:

What bothers me most is that our government officials willingly sets there vicious dogs against its people, these mongrels have been brought to Bahrain and nationalized for the sole purpose of keeping civilians in-line ensuring/preventing demonstrations against the continuing suffering and standing for what they believe in. Bahrainis, have become second-rate citizens, the newly nationalized now-called BAHRAINIS are living better lives, getting higher paying government jobs, government support & housing. They have infested the Armed forces, Special Forces, riot police & the police stations, just to name a few government agencies; and some private companies/businesses now have a preference towards the newly nationalized Bahrainis as well. […] So then, rather than sending negotiators to these troubled areas, to listed to the people’s concern’s, to comfort them in their time of need, to communicated the government’s concerns and wishes, government officials send in their death squad. Why is it so hard to do the obvious, the best thing to do, even if it may be the hardest, rather than what is currently being done?

Bomb them all?!
Silly Bahraini Girl feels pessimistic about a visit home:

I am returning home with mixed feelings. As much as I would love to be back home and see family and friends, as much as I am dreading coming back to a war zone, where stone throwers are being met by mercenaries, tear gas and rubber bullets. People say that the war has started in Wonderland. A man was killed by the riot police. Others have been arrested. I spoke to a friend who said: I wish the government would just send missiles to those villages and flatten them. She was my friend. I, who is articulate at the worst cases, became tongue-tied. Missiles? Flatten the villages? […] I am sick of the hatred.. and tired of people who blindly believe in propaganda from both sides – That young 31-year-old man was killed at the hands of mercenaries. And there is nothing and no evidence which will change that. My country employs mercenaries. My country deals with citizens with an iron fist. My country has no respect for human rights. And my country is arrogant. My country is insecure. My country behaves like a child, with knee jerk reactions – correcting every mistake with a bigger one.

Time for a change
Mahmood wants the country to move on:

There seems to be no end in sight. Each side is steadfast in their refusal to listen. Theirs is the view of “not giving in”, as if this is a battle in which an exclusive winner is declared. They fail to realise that the only losing side in this equation are the normal people who have grown tired of this predictably contentious state of affairs. […] A new way of thinking is required to resolve this issue. Another set of sacrifices is needed by the disparate parties to achieve the status of equitable equilibrium. All need to honour the memory of those who laid their lives to provide the foundation for this country. Their memories should be made into a recognised beacon guiding current and forthcoming generations not to take things for granted. […] Isn’t it high time that we consigned tired and empty platitudes to the rubbish heap and boldly trod the courageous road to an equitable future?

Three-way split
Fareed Esa believes that people take one of three positions in such situations:

أما الذين يتخذون الموقف الأول فهم أولئك الذين يعتقدون اعتقادا جازما بأن سبب الوفاة هو الحكومة وبالتالي فإنهم يشككون في كل رواية تخالف ما يعتقدونه .. وهؤلاء لا يمكنهم أن يستوعبوا فكرة وجوب الانتظار حتى ينتهي التحقيق في الموضوع من قبل الجهات المعنية .وأما الذين يتخذون الموقف الثاني فلا يترددون عن توجيه الاتهامات للشاب وللذين خرجوا للتعبير عن موقف معين في ذلك اليوم ولا يترددون حتى عن الدعوة إلى محاكمة من دعاهم أو حرضهم على الخروج والتظاهر معتبرين أنهم المتسببون في وفاته . وللأسف فإن المنتمين إلى هذين الفريقين كثر ، عكس المنتمين إلى الفريق الثالث أي الفريق الداعي إلى تحكيم العقل وعدم الاستعجال في إصدار الأحكام واتخاذ المواقف المنفعلة ، لذا فإن المتوقع هو أن تتسع الفجوة بين الفريقين الأولين وبالتالي تأخذ المشكلة أبعادا أكبر ربما تكون سببا في انعطافة جديدة في التاريخ السياسي للبحرين ندخل معها في نفق مظلم ربما لا نجد في نهايته ضوءا .. على الأقل في المنظور القريب.
Those who take the first position firmly belief that the cause of the death is the government, and therefore they doubt every story that contradicts what they think … and they cannot grasp the idea that they should wait until the investigation of the matter has been undertaken by the authorities concerned. Those who take the second position do not hesitate to direct accusations at the young man and at those who came out to express a particular viewpoint on that day, and they do not even hesitate to call for a trial for those who invited or incited people to go out and demonstrate, believing that they caused his death. And unfortunately many belong to those two groups, unlike the people belonging to the third group who call for the exercise of reason and for holding back from pronouncing judgements and taking an agitated stance. It is to be expected that the gap between the two former sides will therefore widen, and the problem will take on larger proportions, and may be the cause of a turning point in Bahrain's political history. With it we will enter a dark tunnel, at whose end we may not find a light…at least in the foreseeable future.

Lack of accord
LuLu is looking at Bahrain's political environment, and comments on the main opposition party's response to the events:

Far from the days when Al-Wefaq was commanding the Shia street, their latest reactions to the recent wave of violence show total helplessness and confusion. On the other side, it seems that the recent events are as much a show of frustration with Al-Wefaq as with the government. Beyond speeches and feeble attempts to criticize the Ministry of Interior's handling of the demonstrations, this political society needs a shift in strategy before it is too late. …What we see in Bahrain nowdays is that Al-Wefaq's entrance into parliament not only exposed their own lack of direction, strategy, and ability to tackle serious national grievances. It also showed the whole “political reform” process to be sham with no hope in sight. It actually proved what Haqq was claiming all along: the parliament is so heavily restricted by the government and pro-government forces that no “change from within” can possibly take place.

It doesn't have to be that way…
Lamontami heard about the events in Bahrain while on holiday in Singapore – and makes some comparisons between the two small states:

في سنغافورة يأخذك الازدهار البادي في شوارعها و مبانيها، و الاستقرار القار بين أفراد مجتمعها المؤتلفين من إثنيات متعددة، و النمو الإقتصادي المتسارع. و تتسائل: كيف حققت سنغافورة ذلك؟ ألم تبتلى بالاستعمارين البريطاني و الياباني؟ ألم تعرف الطائفية الطريق إلى قلوب ناسها من الإثنيات الثلاث الكبيرة فيها: الصينية و المالاوية و الهندية؟
In Singapore you are struck by the prosperity evident in the streets and buildings, the permanent stability among members of its multi-ethnic society, and the rapid economic growth. And you wonder: how did Singapore achieve this? Didn't it suffer from the British and Japanese colonisations? Doesn't it know sectarianism as the way to the hearts of its people from the three large ethnic groups: Chinese, Malay and Indian?


Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.