Middle East

Bahrain: live fire on unarmed demonstrators

Nicholas Kristof reports for The New York Times on the brutality against peaceful demonstrators in the Gulf island kingdom which hosts an American naval base.

To be here and see corpses of protesters with gunshot wounds, to hear an eyewitness account of an execution of a handcuffed protester, to interview paramedics who say they were beaten for trying to treat the injured — yes, all that just breaks my heart.

The Washington Post reports:

The Obama administration pressed Bahrain to show restraint Thursday after a violent crackdown on demonstrators there forced U.S. officials to once again decide how hard to press a key ally in the Middle East.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urged the Bahraini government to take action against security officials responsible for Thursday’s attack, in which riot police charged demonstrators with clubs, shotguns and tear gas in a pre-dawn assault in the capital.

“We call on restraint from the government,” Clinton told reporters. “We urge a return to a process that will result in real, meaningful changes for the people there.”

The remarks followed a more strongly worded rebuke from Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who also had publicly pressed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down in the days before his ouster.

“Using tear gas, batons, and rubber bullets on peaceful protesters is the worst kind of response to a nonviolent demonstration,” Kerry said in a statement. “I urge the government of Bahrain to put an end to the violence and allow the Bahrainis to voice their call for greater political freedom.”