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Bahrain: US Secretary of Defense Gates Forgets to Ask About The Repression

If true, this passage from US Secretary of State Robert Gates' account of his meeting on Wednesday with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is telling:

SEC. GATES: We had a very good meeting. We met for about an hour and a half, one-on-one. It was an extremely cordial warm meeting. I think the relationship is in a good place. We talked about developments all over the region. We obviously talked about Iran....

Q. Did you talk about the Saudi troops in Bahrain? Did you raise that as an issue?


Meanwhile, Clifford Krauss of The New York Times reports from Saar:

Thousands of weeping mourners filled the streets of this dusty village on Wednesday, pumping their fists and calling for the death of the royal family.

The protesters did not seem intimidated by the presence of police cars and an army helicopter overhead. “We only bow to God,” they chanted as they carried a coffin draped in Bahraini flags.

The funeral march was for Sayed Hameed Sayed Mahfood, a 60-year-old plumber, who was found dead in a garbage bag, 100 feet away from his car.

Doctors said that there was no sign of trauma and that it appeared that he had died of a heart attack, but no one here believed them. Only the week before, a 15-year-old boy in the village was bludgeoned to death by the police, several villagers said, for doing nothing more than running away from them.

With Saudi troops now in the country to support King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, Bahrain has taken on the likeness of a police state. There have been mass arrests, mass firings of government workers, reports of torture and, on Sunday, the forced resignation of the top editor of the nation’s one independent newspaper.

Emergency laws give the security forces the right to search houses at will without a warrant and dissolve any organization, including legal political parties, deemed a danger to the state. Even two members of the national soccer team were arrested this week, despite apologizing on television for attending antigovernment rallies last month.

And Secretary of Defense Gates may have missed this report, complete with the picture at the top of the entry, from Bill Law:

The BBC has obtained images of alleged police brutality against peaceful protesters in the Bahraini capital Manama, where fears of a systematic crackdown on pro-democracy activists are growing.

Pictures sent by a human rights activist show police from Bahrain's Interior Ministry, and others in plainclothes, their faces hidden by balaclavas.

The police are seen beating and kicking men who are handcuffed and hooded.

The attack occurred on the outskirts of the capital Manama last Wednesday, 30 March, on a busy stretch of road opposite a popular shopping mall.

Eyewitnesses, some of them crying, described a scene that one said "was like watching a horror film."

But the attack is not isolated.

In recent weeks, the government has cracked down on doctors, bloggers and opposition activists - some of whom have simply "disappeared", according to reports from family, friends and rights groups.

It is difficult to verify the reports, as journalists are not being allowed to report freely from the tiny Gulf kingdom that has been shaken by a wave of pro-democracy protests since mid-February.

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