Saturday, August 06, 2011

US and British-Backed Bahrain Regime: the Use of “Toxic Terror” in Collective Punishment

By Finian Cunningham
Global Research
August 6, 2011

After more than five months of popular opposition to its autocratic rule, the US and British-backed unelected monarchy in Bahrain is deploying a new tactic of repression – toxic terror.

Unable to thwart widespread calls for democratic freedom, the Western-backed Bahraini dictatorship is targeting vulnerable civilians – the young, elderly and infirmed – in a bid to crush the pro-democracy movement.

Regime forces have launched a campaign of massive, indiscriminate firing of tear gas into villages and homes – with horrific effects. With thousands of canisters dispensed in the past fortnight alone, whole villages have become shrouded in toxic fumes on a daily basis.

Five civilians, including women, physically disabled and a five-year-old boy, have died so far from suffocation resulting from regime forces firing tear gas canisters into homes.

In such attacks, the dwellings quickly become thick with the acrid smoke released by these weapons. The elderly and weak cannot escape from the lethal exposure.

In the last two weeks, state military forces have stepped up attacks on family homes in mainly Shia villages, which are seen as supportive of the pro-democracy movement.

“This is a deliberate, systematic tactic of terrorising people,” says Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights. “This is not just a case of a few officers behaving randomly. We are seeing entire villages coming under sustained attack with thousands of gas canisters thrown into homes by uniformed riot police who ride into villages in Ministry of Interior jeeps.

These deadly attacks could only be carried out on the orders of the regime’s rulers.”

The Persian Gulf island kingdom, where the US Navy Fifth Fleet is based, is ruled by the Al Khalifa royal family headed by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. He is also the supreme commander of the Bahraini armed forces.

The unelected Sunni regime, described by Washington and London as a key ally, has been in power since Bahrain was granted independence from Britain in 1971.

The prime minister, 77-year-old Shaikh Khalid bin Salman Al Khalifa (uncle of the king) is the longest unelected premier in the world. Some 80 per cent of the unelected ministerial cabinet – appointed solely by the king – are members of the royal family, as are senior officers in the military forces.

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