As pro-democracy protests continue to spread throughout the Mid-East, we’re getting alarming reports of governments brutally cracking down on protesters.
In Bahrain, where the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet is based, government forces attacked an encampment of thousands of protesters while they slept. There are similar stories coming out of Libya. Will you click here and stand up for the basic rights of the protesters?
These widespread protests mark an unprecedented moment in history. I am deeply concerned for those whose lives are on the line, but I am also holding on to hope that justice and peace can win the day.
But hope grows dim as dictators continue to brutally crush political dissent with impunity.
The administration has released a muted statement about Bahrain, Yemen and Libya. But the US supplies millions of dollars in military aid to both Bahrain and Yemen, and it’s those weapons that may be turning on peaceful protesters right now. If the US were to freeze military aid now, it would add crucial heft to US calls to respect the basic rights of protesters throughout the region.
Please click here to push Congress and the President to, without delay, suspend military aid to countries using lethal force against protesters, call for an end to the crackdowns, and call for hearings on US military aid to repressive regimes.
The situation could not be more urgent. Today in Bahrain, security forces opened fire on hundreds gathered to mourn the death of a protester. As the mourners tried to flee in panic, they were fired on from helicopters. Witnesses have said that it was the Bahraini military and not the police that have been behind today’s crackdown. Even medics and ambulances were not spared the soldiers’ gunfire. Similar events are being reported in Yemen and Libya today.
Military aid to Yemen and Bahrain has actually been increasing, based on the same shortsighted thinking that justified US support for the Mubarak regime in Egypt. In the last couple years, military aid to Bahrain, a small country with less than a million residents, has doubled to $20 million a year. Aid to Yemen, after being reduced to almost zero because of concerns about corruption, has increased to a proposed $250 million for 2011. It angers me to think that my tax dollars could be supporting in any way the violence that is happening in Bahrain and Yemen.
And if you’re on Twitter, so is the Bahrain Ministry of Interior. Tweet messages to @moi_bahrain, and let them know we’re watching and the crackdown must end!