April 27, 2011—Civil society has come under increasing threat since peaceful demonstrations began in Bahrain in mid-February. More than 1,000 people have been fired and hundreds have been detained since the government declared a state of national security on March 15.
||Pro-democracy activists rally in Pearl Roundabout. Photo courtesy of ITUC
Because of the crackdown, civil society leaders have few outlets to speak about human rights concerns, including arrests and mass dismissals of workers. Medical professionals, taxi drivers, teachers, youth, and journalists are among those detained, fired, or intimidated, according to four Bahraini civil society leaders who spoke to a U.S. audience in Washington, DC, via video Skype on April 26.
The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI), in partnership with the Solidarity Center and Human Rights Watch, organized the event, “Bahrain on the Edge,” featuring representatives of the Bahrain Youth Center for Civil Rights, the Wa’ad Party, and the Al Wefaq Islamic National Society.
Under the state of national security, the government has suspended the teachers’ union and other organizations. People have disappeared on their way to work, some of them found dead later. Others have been arrested in the middle of the night, long after the protests in the Pearl Roundabout ended, according to Human Rights Watch.
The four speakers were unified in their call for greater respect of human rights and an end to reprisals in Bahrain.
Listen to an audio recording
of "Bahrain on the Edge"
about Bahraini workers' fight for justice and democracy.