Going out on the streets, carrying nothing but a flag and calling for democracy could cost you your life here. Chanting "down with the dictator" could lead to your being subjected to electric shocks. Giving a speech about human rights and democracy can lead to life imprisonment. Infants have died after suffocating from toxic gases used by riot police. And teenage protesters have been shot and killed.
It's not unusual in Bahrain to find families with four or five members in prison at the same time. My father, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, was beaten unconscious in my apartment in front of my family, as a report last year by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry documented. He was then taken away with my husband and brother-in-law; they were all tortured.
Well, that's not so good. What to do?
If the United States is serious about protecting human rights in the Arab world, it should halt all arms sales to Bahrain, bring Bahrain's abuses to the attention of the United Nations Security Council, support a special session on Bahrain at the United Nations Human Rights Council, and begin a conversation about potential diplomatic and economic sanctions. The Obama administration should also demand that high-level Bahraini officials be held accountable for human rights abuses, and that nongovernmental organizations, United Nations human rights investigators and journalists be allowed to enter the country and investigate abuses.
Well, like the man Hemingway said... isn't pretty to think so. Trying to turn around U.S. policy in the Middle East is harder than turning the proverbial aircraftt carrier around. That's true for any issue -- look how hard it's going to be to get Washington to respond to the American majority on gun sanity. You know what might help? If prominent American John Timoney stopped pocketing his king's ransom and spoke out against these abuses.