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Entries in Freedom House (5)


Bahrain Live Coverage: King Hamad Goes Through The Motions

Clashes in Sitra on Thursday night

See also Bahrain Propaganda 101: New York City Judge "Educates Local Cops"
Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: The Deaths at the University
Thursday's Bahrain Live Coverage: The Regime Loses A Friend in US Congress

1600 GMT: Many thousands marching today in a call for significant reforms:

1442 GMT: Today's march, protesting the illusion of Constitutional amendments as "reform", on the Budaiya Highway:

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Bahrain Propaganda 101: Bringing the "Right" Youth Delegation to Washington

Ebtisam Khalifa Bahar of Bahrain's Information Affairs Authority --- ostensibly in an "independent" youth delegation, organised by American PR firm Qorvis and sent to Washingon --- challenges activist Maryam Al-Khawaja

Earlier this month, a group of three young Bahrainis arrived in Washington to talk about reform in the small Persian Gulf nation, which has been rocked by Arab Spring protests for the last year. The delegation, including an NGO worker and a tech entrepreneur, both Western-educated, represented "the leading voice for change and reform" in Bahrain, as an email message from one of the group's representatives put it.

But these weren't leaders of the protest movement that has challenged the country's ruling Sunni monarchy. They were members of a "youth delegation" put together by a top American public relations firm, Qorvis, which has been working with Bahrain to shore up the country's image in the United States.

The youth delegation's modestly pro-reform message was mixed with sharp criticism of the opposition in Bahrain and complaints about negative media coverage in the U.S.

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Bahrain Opinion: No Reform, So Why is the Grand Prix Going Ahead? (Lubbock/Rajab)

> The Bahrain International Circuit, a palm-lined, glitzy race track in the middle of the desert, is due to host Formula One in April. Behind the facade, however, lie tales of misery, blood and torture.

Last year, the head of security at the BIC raided its offices alongside plainclothed police with a list. The list contained the names of every Shia employee. One by one they were dragged from their desks and beaten in front of colleagues [see footnote]. In total, 27 were arrested, and many were left in jail for months. The BIC is responsible for purging its own people. It is hardly a place that deserves to host this race again.

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Syria, Bahrain (and Beyond) LiveBlog: Protesting, Filming, Dying

1934 GMT: Two Syrian opposition parties have signed an agreement in Cairo, promising to unite against Assad. The interesting part of the agreement - the two parties, the Syrian National Co-ordination Committee and the Syrian National Council, are committed to resist international intervention. But as Al Jazeera points out, many in the opposition are in favor of intervention:

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Syria WikiLeaks Special: How the US Government "Supported Opposition Groups" (and for How Long?)

Craig Whitlock, writing in The Washington Post, declares, "US Secretly Backed Syrian Opposition Groups, Cables Released by WikiLeaks Show".

It is a provocative article, but it only goes so far. When you read it alongside the WikiLeaks cables that it mentions, vital questions emerge, both about the specific case of Syria and about the many cases beyond. What does this story say about the relationship --- past and present --- between the US Government and private groups? What it say about the distinction between support of "civil society" and support of movements to challenge and even topple regimes?

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