In a statement released today, the Irish Anti War Movement (IAWM) condemned the ongoing repression of peaceful protests in Bahrain, the decision to hold the Grand Prix there in spite of the ongoing human rights abuses, and the incarceration of the hunger striker protester, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, now close to death. 

The statement called on the US and British governments to openly condemn the continued suppression of protesters in Bahrain, to acknowledge that they should have called for the cancellation of the Grand Prix race, and to publicly demand that the Bahrain regime immediately release Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja.

The statement also called for the US and British Governments to stop doing business with the Bahrain and Saudi regimes, especially sales of weaponry, as long as they deny fundamental human rights to their citizens.

The statement also called on Eamon Gilmore, Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, to express support for the protesters in Bahrain and to call on the US and British governments to stop supporting such dictatorial regimes.

Jim Roche, PRO of the IAWM said:

“There are three key aspects of the Bahraini uprising that must be known:

Firstly, the uprising is hugely significant in proportion to the uprisings in neighbouring countries. Eightty people have been killed out of a small population of just over 1.2 million (0.6 million of these naturalised expatriates). This is equivalent to over 5000 dead in the Egyptian revolution. Nonetheless, the proportion of the population who are demonstrating has not elicited any serious expressions of concern from western powers nor serious coverage by the western media.

Secondly, the Bahraini authorities are playing the sectarian card against the protesters – invoking yet again, as occurred previously in Iraq, a conflict between Shia and Sunni Muslim, and the demonization of the perceived regional evil - Iran.

The protesters on Pearl Roundabout in March 2011 were mainly Shia, due to the awful discrimination in all aspects of work and cultural life against this larger demographic group by the ruling Sunni elite. Yet many Sunnis were prominent amongst the protesters last year, including those arrested, thus exposing the sectarian motives of the Bahraini authorities.

Thirdly and most importantly, the brutal suppression of the uprising in March 2011 by the Bahraini security forces was assisted by the western-backed Saudi military, with the stated purpose of protecting 'essential facilities' including oil and gas installations and financial institutions and to "safeguard security and stability".

Western leaders have an appalling record of supporting and arming the despotic regimes in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. There are strong indications that the invasion of Bahrain by Saudi Arabia in March 2011 had the green light from Hilary Clinton. The Saudi intervention came after US Government officials met the Bahraini government leaders. Saudi troops drove across the border only two days after then US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates was in Bahrain.

Since the suppression of the uprising last year, and the ongoing imprisonment and torture of protesters, including doctors, some of whom were trained in Ireland, US President Obama and British Prime Minister Cameron have fallen over themselves to sell armaments to both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia – to the tune of at least $30 billion. The US fifth fleet continues to have safe berthing in Bahrain. The Bahraini Prince was invited to the Royal wedding last year and the King of Bahrain is invited to the upcoming Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Banquet.

There is no doubt that Western Powers see the Bahraini and Saudi regimes as a bulwark against the spreading of the Arab Spring. That is why they did not call for the Grand Prix to be cancelled, nor for the release of the hunger striker protester Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, now perilously close to death.”

The IAWM spokesperson concluded by noting that:
“If western political leaders are as supportive as they claim to be of the demands for human rights and democracy of Arab protesters throughout the region, then they should stop dealing with the despotic regimes of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.”


For further info contact:
Jim Roche, PRO Steering Committee IAWM, Tel. 087 6472737
John Molyneux Steering Committee IAWM, Tel. 085 7356424
Glenda Cimino, Steering Committee IAWM, Tel. 086 124 9456

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