Thursday, June 2, 2011

Bahrain Lifts Martial Law

The Media Line reports that Bahrain moved to end martial law on Wednesday in a bid to close a brief but controversial chapter in the country’s history. Unfortunately, human rights activists and politicians say they don’t expect life for the country’s one million citizens to change much on the ground.  Under what the authorities called a state of "national safety," the government had been banning newspapers, arresting hundreds to face military justice and monitoring correspondence and telephone conversations for the past two months to quell unrest. King Hamad Al-Khalifa imposed martial law on March 15, one day after he called in a Saudi-led Gulf force to crush weeks of protests. At least 30 Bahrainis were killed and thousands injured in clashes with the army. While protesters were calling for democratic reforms, the opposition was mostly Shiites who the Sunni regime accused of being backed by Iran with the aim of seizing power.
The lifting of martial law is the result of diplomatic pressure and economic considerations. There are concerns that continued crackdown could jeopardize Bahrain's status as a regional financial center.

(credit Freda Carmack)