We strongly condemn the Bahrain government, which has used brutal military force to suppress legitimate, peaceful protest. The Shi’a majority and many Sunnis are demanding democratic, seculf reforms and equal treatment in politics and the econony. The royal al-Khalifa family, which rules the country and represents a small minority of the larger Sunni majority, has refused meaningful concessions and called in 2000 troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The military and police have been killing and wounding protesters, limited acess to medical care for the injured, and rounded up and arrested pro-democracy leaders. Martial law and a severe curfew have been proclaimed.
We call on the U.S. government to condemn unequivocally the actions of the Bahrain government. President Obama’s refusal to conemn explicity the government’s violence is telling. It is morally and politically inadequate simply to urge restraint on both sides.We call on the U.S. government to cut off all aid to Bahrain. Over the past five years, the U.S. aid to Bahrain has increased from $5 million to over $20 million, one-hundred per cent of which has been allocated to “security”: i.e., providing arms and training to the military and police. None has been given to human rights and democracy development programs.
The Obama Administration has strongly condemned Gaddafi’s militarized repression of protest in Libya (where anti-government protesters had taken up arms.) It has been much milder in its approach to Bahrain where the protesters have remained peaceful. The fact that the US Fifth Fleet is based in Manama, Bahrain, is a major reason for this double standard.
In Bahrain, as across the Middle East, the U.S. needs a new foreign policy, one that is not based on the projection of military power, whether by absolute monarchs like the al-Khalifas or dictators like Mubarak, or by military force like the U.S. war efforts in Afghanistan and the projection of naval power by the Fifth Fleet. Instead, we need a foreign policy that promotes internal democracy, fosters economic and social development abroad and domestically, respects all nations, and treats all peoples equally under the law.
Statement adopted by Brooklyn For Peace, Board of Directors
March 20, 2011