Mainstream media have been silent about the sentencing of medical workers in Bahrain, convicted of treating protesters injured by government repression.
The Russia-based English-language online news service RT reported Nov. 23 that a court in Bahrain had sentenced 23 health workers to three months in jail for treating injured anti-government demonstrators and for participating in those demonstrations. The protests in question occurred in February and March 2011 as part of the events that came to be called the “Arab Spring.” Many protesters were injured during the Bahrain government's violent repression of those protests, and dozens were killed.
The medical personnel were working at Manama's Salmaniya Medical Center in February 2011 when they treated people injured during the crackdown. According to the RT article, some of the medics spoke out about the behavior of the authorities to foreign media and took part in protests after ambulances were fired on. At least 95 health workers were arrested, and in September 2011, 20 were sentenced to up 15 years in prison.
The record is clear. The Bahraini security forces opened fire on unarmed protesters, and dozens were killed. Medical personnel were arrested, tortured and sentenced to jail and prison for treating injured protesters. Yet, the Yahoo and CNN news feeds and other capitalist media buried the story.
Compare this lack of coverage with the media outcry when protesters were injured or killed during clashes with Libyan and Syrian security forces. Even during the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings against dictatorial regimes, the news reporting and U.S. State Department's criticism of these client states was virtually nonexistent initially and then subdued.
Even when the people overthrew these regimes and started implementing democratic reforms, it was clear that the State Department saw it as a dangerous outcome. The unasked question was, “Once Egypt and Tunisia implement democracy, will the new governments be allied with U.S. interests in the region?”
The U.S. has even more at stake in the case of Bahrain. The U.S. Navy bases its Fifth Fleet there. If the democracy movement overthrows the current repressive monarchy, will the U.S. be able to maintain control of this base? Given the unqualified support that the U.S. government gives to the Al Khalifa regime in Bahrain, any government brought into being by a popular revolution would probably not be “pro-U.S.”
The interest of the U.S. ruling class in maintaining control over this naval base trumps any alleged concern it has expressed for human rights in Bahrain.
Given these facts, progressive forces must ask themselves why the U.S. government claimed to take such an interest in human rights in Libya under Gaddafi previously and Syria now and yet continues to support highly repressive regimes in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain? The forces in Libya that overthrew the Gaddafi-led government with the help of direct U.S.-NATO bombing, and that carried out racist attacks on Libyans and immigrants of sub-Saharan African descent, can scarcely be characterized as “democratic” and “supporters of human rights.”
The answer has nothing to do with genuine concern for human rights and democracy and everything to do with maintaining the U.S. world empire.