World View: HRW: Bahrain’s Sunni Government Continues Abuse of Shia Majority

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This morning’s key headlines from

  • HRW: Bahrain’s Sunni government continues abusing and torturing Shia majority
  • NATO formally invites Montenegro to join the alliance

HRW: Bahrain’s Sunni government continues abusing and torturing Shia majority

Pearl Square in Manama, Bahrain, after March 15 2011 protests.  The beautiful Pearl monument was torn down by the regime on March 18, because it was thought to be encouraging protests.
Pearl Square in Manama, Bahrain, after March 15, 2011 protests. The beautiful Pearl monument was torn down by the regime on March 18, because it was thought to be encouraging protests.

Bahrain’s Sunni government is still targeting innocent Shia protesters and reporters with arrests, murders and torture, and has not implemented any reforms since the bloody massacres by Bahraini security forces and Saudi troops in the capital city Manama in 2011. These are the findings in a new report by Human Rights Watch. ( “15-Mar-11 News — Bahrain uprising becomes explosive as Saudi troops arrive”)

The world was shocked in the days following the “Arab Spring” protests by the extremely violent and bloody overreaction of the Bahrain security services, backed up by troops from Saudi Arabia. The protests began in Bahrain on February 14, 2011. Dozens of protesters were killed, over 1,600 were arrested, and thousands were injured. A report published later that year by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) said that the National Security Agency and the Ministry of Interior “followed a systematic practice of physical and psychological mistreatment, which in many cases amounted to torture, with respect to a large number of detainees in their custody.” Many Shias were arrested and held for months with no charges, merely because they had been suspected of protesting. Even after the protests ended, Bahraini security forces continued to arrest dozens of Shia professionals, including lawyers and doctors.

After the report was published, Bahrain’s government promised reforms, but recent interviews conducted by Human Rights Watch indicate that the Bahrain regime has continued to be just as brutal and bloody as ever.

At a meeting on Wednesday, Bahrain’s Interior Ministry Undersecretary Major-General Khalid Salem Al-Absi said that Bahrain has always been a gathering of religions and civilizations and a symbol for moderation and tolerance under the reforms launched by His Majesty the King.

Unfortunately, this is laughable. Besides the Human Rights Watch reports, Reporters Sans Frontières (Reporters without Borders) reported that, on Tuesday, Bahrain sentenced a reporter to ten years in jail on charges of terrorism. The crime was that he gave mobile phone SIM cards to protesters, and photographed anti-government protests.

Bahrain has a Sunni Muslim government, which maintains control and does not permit opposition, even though the country’s population is 2/3 Shia Muslim. Bahrain is also the headquarters of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet. Human Rights Watch and and Bahrain News and Reuters

NATO formally invites Montenegro to join the alliance

NATO has formally invited Montenegro to join the alliance, a move that’s spurred threats from Russian officials. Montenegro’s President Milo Djukanovic tweeted:

Today, we proudly receive a #NATO membership invitation. This is a historic day for #Montenegro. The most important (since) the 2006 (independence) referendum.

The 2006 referendum refers to Montenegro’s secession from Serbia, a close Russian ally. All three are Orthodox Christian countries.

Montenegro is a tiny country on the Adriatic Sea, which separates it from Italy by only a couple of hundred miles. Montenegro is thus much closer to Italy than to Russia, and yet the Russians are extremely upset that Montenegro might join Nato.

Historically, Montenegro has had a close relationship with Russia, and has been a close and faithful ally in the Balkans. Both of them are Orthodox Christian countries. Russian companies have invested millions in Montenegro, which has also become a favorite tourism destination, and Russians have been buying property along the Adriatic sea. According to reports, Russia has offered Montenegro several billion dollars to build a Russian naval base on Montenegrin coast. Montenegro is a very poor country, and so the money was tempting. But Montenegro has refused, preferring instead to join Nato.

According to a Montenegrin official, the country has never considered Russia’s offer seriously:

For as long as I have been a member of the Commission for Defense and Security, and this is already my second term, this topic has never been discussed. It was not mentioned during the commission’s sessions. I believe these are irrelevant stories, and our stance regarding our national priorities has not changed in the past ten years. Our main national and state priorities are NATO membership, and after that membership in the European Union. That is something Montenegro will not give up on.

Russia is threatening to withdraw all its investment projects from Montenegro. According to Sanda Raskovic Ivic, the leader of the Democratic Party of Serbia:

I think that NATO made a big mistake inviting Montenegro. The issue of NATO has already divided the country and created an atmosphere of an imminent bloodshed. […]

It may complicate the situation in Montenegro, because a lot of people are already against that, and do not want to indulge that situation and support [Prime Minister Milo] Djukanovic in the direction to NATO. People want a referendum on NATO in Montenegro, and that should be done.

Montenegro is already involved in NATO’s efforts in Afghanistan and has actively cooperated with the alliance in other ways. AP and CNN and Radio Slobodna Europa / Radio Liberty

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Bahrain, Pearl Square, Manama, Human Rights Watch, Saudi Arabia, Khalid Salem Al-Absi, Reporters Sans Frontières, Reporters without Borders, Nato, Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic, Russia, Serbia, Adriatic Sea, Italy, Sanda Raskovic Ivic, Afghanistan
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