Iran Election Guide

Donate to EAWV

Or, click to learn more



Bahrain Live Coverage: The Regime Plays for Time

Detained activist Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, on Day 83 of his hunger strike, with BBC correspondent Frank Gardner (see 1241 GMT)

See also Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Idlib Explosions Raise the Stakes
Monday's Syria, Bahrain (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Enter the Observers

1710 GMT: Blurred but still notable footage of protesters scattering in Bani Jamra after a charge by police firing tear gas:

1441 GMT: BBC correspondent Frank Gardner, in addition to his five-minute visit with detained hunger striker Abdulhadi Alkhawaja (see 1241 GMT), has also reported:

1241 GMT: BBC correspondent Frank Gardner has been allowed a five-minute visit with detained activist Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, on Day 83 of his hunger strike, in a military hospital today. The BBC posts a photograph (see top of entry) and a rather confused report.

Mr Khawaja said his medical treatment had been good "except for the force-feeding", something officials deny.

He said he had been walking for three days and appeared thin but alert....He was dressed in overalls and sitting on the edge of his bed, unrestrained.

Our correspondent says the 51 year old was drinking fluids, and hospital staff said he was also drinking regular nutritional supplements. However, Mr Khawaja said he would continue his hunger strike, which began on 8 February....

Hospital staff told our correspondent that Mr Khawaja was getting "VIP treatment" and that they had been frustrated at reports from his supporters that he was being mistreated.

So is Alkhawaja, still mobile despite all three months without food, voluntarily "drinking... nutritional supplements" or is he being force-fed?

1240 GMT: Khadija al-Mousawi speaks about the hunger strike of her detained husband, Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, and the imprisonment of her daughter, Zainab Alkhawaja

1140 GMT: There is a flutter amongst analysts over a statement by Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal of plans among the six Gulf Co-operation Council nations for "closer political union".

The Financial Times opens with the motive of "Arab fears of the threat from neighbouring Iran", but the real answer may be lower down in the article:

The comments, made two weeks before a Gulf Co-operation Council meeting in Riyadh, reflect increasing momentum towards a bilateral union between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, as the island US ally faces growing unrest within its majority Shia community.

An EA source comments, "I think the proposed union is a bit more subtle than a full Saudi-Bahrain merger....It seems that the goal is an upgrade or strengthening of the Gulf Cooperation Council to closer coordination yielding a GCC Union. Aside from the semantics, this would appear to mean more intensified cooperation on security, both foreign and domestic. The Saudis seem to be proposing a closer alignment of GCC member states on foreign policy through a "Supreme Gulf Committee". And there is a big emphasis on shared intelligence, and more cooperation on policing, and (interestingly) media policy....

Bahrain is then proposed to be the first "test run" towards this more intensified union.

1100 GMT: We are getting numerous accounts of May Day marches across the country and unconfirmed reports of attacks by police on the demonstrations.

The protest in Bani Jamra:

0822 GMT: Interesting wording from the regime-linked Gulf Daily News in its report on the order for a "retrial" of 14 political prisoners: "High-profile prisoner Abdulhadi Al Khawaja...has allegedly been on hunger strike for more than 80 days."

0815 GMT: In our regular survey of regime public-relations efforts, an example from the Gulf Daily News:

MPs, municipal councillors and citizens from across Bahrain attended "Khalifa...No-one But You We Accept", held in recognition of HRH the Premier's crucial role in spearheading Bahrain's renaissance and development whose dividends citizens are reaping today.

The ceremony featured speeches and poems voicing citizens' love and loyalty to HRH the Premier.

Organising committee chairman Zouheir Al Murbati said that internal developments made it necessary for all citizens to stand united and rally behind the wise leadership.

0615 GMT: Monday started and rippled with the news that the Bahraini appeals court had ordered a "retrial" in civilian court for 21 political prisoners. 

In fact, this may not be a substantial change in the situation of the 14 prisoners who were not tried in absentia, including Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, on Day 83 of his hunger strike. Bahrain's State news agency, in tangled language, indicated that the men would remain in detention and were likely to be "reconvicted". 

Perhaps most importantly, there is no indication when the cases will be resolved. Given that Alkhawaja is nearing three months without food, the continued stalling could in effect be a death sentence.

That in turn means the regime's playing for time could be a miscalculation. If it is blamed by many Bahrainis for Alkhawaja's death --- and all indications are that it will be --- expect a massive outburst of anger and defiance. And while that anger will include large peaceful protests, it will probably have an element of violence as well.

The only salvation at this point is that Alkhawaja has periodically relented to the taking of fluids and nutrition, either through a saline drip or through the "force-feeding" of a nasogastric tube. The latter, however, raises other issues for Bahraini officials who seem to be out of ideas of how to handle a situation which is stoking more tension by the day.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

« Syria Analysis: Sorting Out The Truth Beyond Car Bombs and Ceasefires | Main | Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Idlib Explosions Raise the Stakes »

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>