Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of the start of protests in Bahrain. Bahrainis have already begun taking to the streets to protest a government that has committed terrible violence against its own citizens.
When Bahrain’s streets awaken in protest tomorrow, will government forces crack down on peaceful demonstrators again? Will there be more tear gas, torture, killings?
We don’t know what will happen tomorrow. But we do know that tragedy is not inevitable.
As protests enter their second year, the Middle East and North Africa remain in turmoil. As I wrote you over the weekend, the crisis in Syria is escalating. Civil society is under attack in Egypt. We can’t let violence against peaceful protesters rekindle anew in Bahrain.
If the Bahraini government keeps its promises — to end torture and excessive force, to release peaceful protesters from prison, and to hold those responsible for abuses accountable — it should have nothing to fear from nonviolent protests demanding political reforms.
Under pressure, Bahrain’s government has taken some positive steps forward — but human rights violations continue in the country. Scores of people sentenced to prison terms for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly during last year’s protests are still facing criminal charges.
Two of those prisoners, leaders of the Bahrain Teachers’ Association, face a critical hearing this coming weekend that could grant them their freedom — or keep them jailed for years.
The situation in Bahrain is dire, but it is not hopeless — and we can have tremendous influence. Bahrain takes its international image seriously. And since Bahrain is a country with such close ties to the U.S., the Bahraini government is uniquely susceptible to pressure from the U.S. government and U.S.-based activists.
Your action today could mean peace in Bahrain tomorrow. Tell the Bahraini government that you are watching closely — and that when tomorrow comes, you expect them to do the right thing for human rights.