Three US citizens arrested and deported by Bahraini Authorities
Manama, Bahrain: Two US Citizens were deported by Bahraini security forces on Friday early morning following their arrest from the car of the President of the Bahrain Human Rights Center, Nabeel Rajab. Another American national and an independent Irish national were arrested later on Friday during a peaceful protest on the way to the Pearl Roundabout. Protesters had tried multiple times to march into the city center to reestablish a presence of nonviolent, peaceful protest on the one year anniversary of the Arab Spring uprising in Bahrain.
CODEPINK anti-war activist Tighe Barry and Vietnam veteran Billy Kelly, were arrested from Rajab's care and were deported late Thursday night.
"I feel honored to have spent time in Bahrain to learn from these wonderful people just how much they are suffering under this repressive government," said Tighe Barry of the anti-war organization CODEPINK. "The government is deporting me to try to stop me from hearing their stories, but I will now go to Washington DC to share these appalling first-hand account with U.S. government officials and insist that they do more to pressure the Bahraini regime to stop being a gross human rights violator."
Independent observer Elaine Murthagh from Ireland and U.S. Codepink human rights activist Medea Benjamin responded to a call from women in Bahrain to join them in an attempted march to support the women and children who are victims of the government's ongoing repression. As they got out of their cars to start marching toward the Pearl Roundabout, the symbol of resistance, they were brutally attacked by the police, who fired teargas directly at them. The group was forced to disperse, and both Murthagh and Benjamin were detained and are to be deported.
Medea Benjamin stated, "Despite the government's efforts to keep us out, I am happy to have had a chance to be with the people of Bahrain and witness their courage and determination to win their rights. I leave this country disgusted by the government's cruelty and inspired by the people's resistance. I am certain they will be triumphant."
The international observers were in Bahrain as part of Witness Bahrain, an effort aimed at providing civilian presence to report and monitor the situation on the ground (witnessbahrain.org). Leading up to February 14, the one year anniversary of pro-democracy protests, Bahraini authorities had prevented journalists, human rights observers and other internationals from entering the country, leading many to fear a brutal crackdown.
This group of internationals is the third to be deported by the Bahraini government. Attorneys Huwaida Arraf and Radhika Sainath were deported on February 11th, and six US citizens were deported on February 14th.