Shouting in the dark: Al Jazeera’s documentary on Bahrain

by admin

Identity cards of a Pakistani mercenary in Bahrain

I am cross-posting this video to show my contempt for Pakistan’s military establishment which provided mercenaries via Fauji Foundation to kill and persecute pro-democracy protesters in Bahrain. I also wantto condemn those Pakistani writers and analysts (Tarek Fatah, Urooj Zia, Dr Awab Alvi, Abdulaziz Khattak, Saba Imtiaz, Faisal Kapadia) who recycled Pakistan’s military establishment’s and Saudi Arabia’s joint propaganda to justify the oppression of pro-democracy protesters in Bahrain.

For an impartial perspective from Pakistan, read Hasnain Magsi’ post on LUBP titled “Sectarianism and racism: The dishonest narratives on Bahrain”.

Al Jazeera documentary offers a story of the pro-democracy revolution in Bahrain that was abandoned by the Arabs, forsaken by the West and forgotten by the world.

According to Al Jazeera “Bahrain is an island kingdom in the Arabian Gulf where people fighting for democratic rights broke the barriers of fear, only to find themselves alone and crushed.”

This is their story and Al Jazeera is their witness – the only TV journalists who remained to follow their journey of hope to the carnage that followed.

Review from the Huffington Post

On February 16, 2011 thousands of demonstrators hit the streets of Bahrain to protest against the ruling Khalifa family. In the wake of protests in Tunisia and the revolution in Egypt, many felt that Bahrain, too, was ready for reform. On February 21st, a quarter of the Bahraini population came out on the streets and gathered in the Pearl-roundabout.

Yet what followed was a brutal government crackdown on a peaceful civilian movement, that resulted in massive killings and arrests.

On Wednesday, Al Jazeera aired “Shouting In The Dark,” an astonishing account of the pro-democracy protests in Bahrain. The film follows the unraveling of the Bahraini revolution from its first days in February 201 and documents the the ruthless handling of the uprising by government, military and police.

Filmed by an undercover film crew, “Shouting In The Dark” gives a rare insight into an uprising that was hidden for the world, banned from the camera’s, unaccessible to foreign press. The cameras catch protesters being teargassed, beaten and shot. After the February 16-demonstrations, men are lying on the street, some unconscious, others bleeding. An order from the Ministry of health forbade doctors and ambulances access to the scene.

Yet according to Al Jazeera, the crackdown took place as much through the media as on the streets. The network found that during the Saudi invasion, the government disabled cell-phones in anticipation of the army clearing the roundabout. The film narrates how national television launched a campaign to “name and punish prominent Bahraini’s.” A presenter called a national football star on television and shamed him on tv.

Facebook, too, became a site to name and shame anti-government protesters. Pages such as “Together to unmask the Shi’a trators” asked Bahrainis to disclose the names and workplace of those who participated in the protests, “and let the government take care of the rest.”

“State agencies appeared to have used these sites to solicit evidence from the public,” Al Jazeera says.

As time passed, the repression gained in brutality. Doctors who spoke out on what they had seen were jailed and tried, accused of fabricating injuries. Prisoners were killed without trial. In April, the Bahraini government started a campaign to destroy Shi’a mosques. A journalist who went to a local police station to report his home had been raided was tortured to death, Al Jazeera reports.

Bahrain protests to Qatar over al-Jazeera film
Doha-based news channel under fire over documentary showing how Facebook was used to target pro-democracy activists

Ian Black

Bahrain has protested to its neighbour Qatar about a film produced byal-Jazeera, the Doha-based satellite TV channel, which highlights continuing anti-government protests by Bahraini Shias. Bahraini papers attacked “lies and slanders” in the 50-minute documentary, which shows how Facebook was used to target pro-democracy activists – “unmasking Shia traitors” – and catalogues human rights abuses by the regime.

The film was shown on al-Jazeera English, not its sister Arabic channel, which has been attacked for pulling its punches in coverage of the unrest in Bahrain compared with its sympathetic approach to revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia and Syria.

Khamis al-Rumaihi, a pro-government Sunni MP, alleged a “hidden agenda” and accused al-Jazeera, owned by the emir of Qatar, of trying to foment unrest and undo the benefits of Bahrain’s national dialogue. Qatar, like the other members of the Gulf Co-operation Council, supported the Saudi-led Peninsular Shield military intervention in March, but unlike Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates did not send any troops.

Matar Matar, an al-Wifaq MP interviewed in the film and later jailed, was released from prison on Sunday pending his trial in a civilian court.

Until now the Bahraini government has been far more exercised by al-Alaam, the Iranian government’s Arabic-language channel, which is widely watched by Bahraini Shias and makes no secret of its hostility to the Al Khalifa dynasty. Bahrain has also attacked al-Manar, the TV channel of Lebanon’s Hezbollah, for broadcasting propaganda.

Bahrain’s foreign minister, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmad Al Khalifa, denied reports on Gulf websites that Bahrain was being urged by Saudi Arabia to sever diplomatic relations with Qatar. “Relations between Manama and Doha are larger and deeper than a negative television programme,” he wrote on Twitter.

Source: Guardian


Peter Clifford ‏ @PeterClifford1
#Bahrain Brilliant #BBC kid’s programme about Bahrain – Westerners, show it to your children!

“Because I am not free”
by Andrea Bu Celli

مترجم بالعربي: Riots and Revolutions: My Arab Journey – Bahrain

Occupy Bahrain: The largest demonstration in Bahrain. We are the 99%

Human right violations in #Bahrain after BICI report
Human right violations after 23 November 2011 till 20/4/2012

3 Comments to “Shouting in the dark: Al Jazeera’s documentary on Bahrain”

  1. Shias demanding equal rights are portrayed by Sunnis as fanatics who are cheered on by Iran. The communities’ narratives, like in Northern Ireland and Israel/Palestine, are hard to reconcile.

    Both see themselves as victims – though the suffering has been one-sided: most of the 33 dead, and the hundreds injured and imprisoned, are Shias and 30 Shia mosques, built without licences, have been demolished.

    Ten days ago, on the eve of Ramadan, King Hamad – “a wise and democratic monarch”, the media gushed loyally – was pondering the results of a “national dialogue” tasked to make recommendations for political and constitutional reforms, with slick western PR advisers on hand to spin the message.

    Al-Wifaq, the main Shia opposition group, did not wait for the end. Its representatives walked out, protesting that their demands were being ignored.

    “We met, we quarrelled, we drank tea and coffee and it provided some psychological relief,” says, with a laugh, Munira Fakhro of the secular Wa’ad party (the National Democratic Action Society).

    “But it was a forum not a dialogue. The barrier is still there.” The question, says a worried foreign diplomat, “is what does the king do with it all?”

    Expectations are higher for an inquiry into the “events” of February and March. Set up by the king under the American-Egyptian international lawyer Cherif Bassiouni, its English title is the Bahrain Independent Investigation Commission – though tellingly, the local Arabic papers refer to it as the “royal” commission.

    Its report, due in October, is likely to name those responsible for unlawful killings and other abuses. Bassiouni, a highly regarded veteran of UN and other inquiries, describes King Hamad as an “enlightened monarch who deserves support” and believes he will act on the recommendations.

    Opposition supporters are not so sure – but hope he is right. “Terrible things were happening in Bahrain just a few months ago,” says Mansoor al-Jamri, who has just been reinstated as editor of al-Wasat, the country’s only independent newspaper, after being forced by the government to step down.

    “They’ve said, ‘We’ve killed who we’ve killed and now let’s move on.’ Issuing press releases isn’t going to be enough. There has to be substance.”

    Government officials in Manama are anxious to project a new sense of stability: the next Formula One Grand Prix is to be held in November 2012 and banking confidence is holding up – but restoring calm at home looks hard.

    The national dialogue did express support for a “fairer” electoral system but there are no plans to change constituency boundaries or other mechanisms that preserve Sunni control: one Shia constituency has 15 times as many voters as a small Sunni one – classic gerrymandering.

    No wonder critics were quick to dismiss the dialogue as a sham. “An exercise in make-believe,” is the blunt conclusion of a new report by the International Crisis Group.

    And the king, it seems likely, will continue to appoint the prime minister and rely on an unelected upper chamber of parliament to keep MPs in check and his own power untrammelled.

    And there is no sign that the government will halt its controversial policy of “political naturalisation” of non-Bahraini Sunnis – imported from Syria, Jordan, Yemen and even Pakistan – to fill the ranks of the security forces (from which Shias are largely excluded) – to tip the demographic balance.

    Census figures are not available but independent observers assume that Shias still make up at least 60% of Bahrain’s native population. Sunnis dislike discussing this sensitive subject – and are not always consistent when they do.

    “The Shia are not the majority,” insists Anwar Abdulrahman, outspoken editor of the pro-regime daily Akhbar al-Khaleej. “Or if they are it is only 51% to 48%.”

    It was Abdulrahman’s newspaper that famously called the US president “Mullah Obama” because of Washington’s pressure for reforms that many Sunnis fear will empower the Shia and serve Iran’s strategic interests.

    In this highly charged atmosphere it is easy to forget that before this year’s crisis Bahrain, for all its shortcomings and sectarian divide, was the most liberal country in the Gulf.

    Yet prospects for change now look bleak. Salman, the reformist crown prince, has been marginalised. Encouraged by the US and Britain to maintain dialogue with the opposition, he was outmanoeuvred by Sheikh Khalifa, the king’s uncle, who holds the record as the world’s longest serving prime minister – since 1971.

    “An obvious move would have been for the king to sack Khalifa,” says an intellectual, who defines himself as a member of the Sunni silent majority.

    “But that is harder now because it would be interpreted as sympathetic to Shia demands and would alienate the Sunnis, which he can’t afford to do.

    “You can use the police and the army to control the Shias but the Sunnis are the police and the army. Personally, I would rather live under a family than a sect.”

    The curiosity is that Bahrain might not have had its place in the Arab Spring at all.

  2. Dr Awab Alvi of PTI recycles Sipahe Sahaba propaganda:

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