This week, Amnesty International called on Bahraini authorities to release all "prisoners of conscience" ahead of the appeals of nine medical workers and human rights activist Nabeel Rajab. In light of the ongoing developments in Bahrain, here is a rundown of relevant events, activists, groups, and places that have been featured on Mosaic in recent months.
The Arab Spring swept Bahrain in March 2011 with a series of demonstrations calling for greater political freedoms and more equality for the Shia Muslim minority. The government brutally suppressed the movement, resulting in the deaths of two protestors during rallies on February 14. The protestors' funerals led to an occupation of Manama's iconic Pearl Roundabout, which was destroyed by Bahraini security forces in a deadly raid on February 17. This sparked an uprising that is still underway, with the goal of bringing down King Hamad's regime.
The disheartening lack of change in the status quo since then has been attributed to multiple factors, notably neighboring Saudi Arabia's support of the regime, but also the overwhelming international silence on the issue. Global attention has been drawn away from Bahrain to similar uprisings in the region, and a media blackout, coupled with a crackdown on social media activists by Bahraini regime forces, keeps Bahrain's troubles out of the spotlight.
Nabeel Rajab: He is the president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), and was arrested multiple times this April during protests against the Bahrain Grand Prix. Al Jazeera English has called him the "unofficial leader of the February 14 Movement." In early July, he was re-arrested shortly after posting anti-regime messages on his Twitter account, @NABEELRAJAB.
Abdulhadi Alkhawaja: He is the co-founder and former president of the BCHR. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in June 2011, and famously underwent a 110-day hunger strike that lasted until May 2012 to protest his sentence and draw international attention to Bahrain.
Zainab and Maryam Alkhawaja: The daughters of Abdulhadi Alkhawaja are prominent rights activists themselves. In May, Zainab was interviewed on Democracy Now! with Mr. Rajab following a recent arrest, and Maryam spoke at the UNHRC during Bahrain's human rights review. They tweet in both Arabic and English, as @AngryArabiya and @MARYAMALKHAWAJA respectively.
Al-Wefaq: This Shiite group is the largest political party in Bahrain, but is often outvoted by coalition Sunni parties. They, along with the February 14 Movement, have organized numerous demonstrations against the regime, despite a ban on rallies by the Interior Ministry. They are guided by their spiritual leader, Sheikh Issa Qassim.
February 14 Movement: This opposition youth group is led by anonymous social media activists. It was named after the date the popular uprising began, which was also the tenth anniversary of a charter that ended Bahrain's 1990s uprising and returned it to constitutional rule. The group has no set political or religious affiliations, but has organized marches with al-Wefaq.
Al-Khalifa Family: Bahrain's ruling family has managed to hold on to power in the midst of the unrest, with their Saudi-backed security forces repeatedly quelling the uprisings, but there is growing evidence of internal conflict.
Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia: Like 70 percent of Bahrain's population of 1.3 million, Saudi Arabia's largest province consists primarily of Shia Muslims who speak Bahrani Arabic, and most of its 4.2 million people share intimate historical and cultural ties with Bahrainis. Demonstrations in this region have been similarly suppressed by the Saudi military.
Saudi Arabia: On March 2011, Bahraini authorities called on the mostly Saudi Arabian Peninsula Shield Forces to help contain the uprising in their country. This May, Saudi and Bahraini officials proposed incorporating Bahrain into Saudi Arabia to formalize their growing alliance, but the planned move was met with widespread condemnation.
United States: The US has enjoyed a close military relationship with Bahrain since the 1990s, and the US Navy has been stationed in the strategic Gulf country for several decades. This may have something to do with the superpower's silence on the unrest in Bahrain so far, much to the chagrin of rights activists.
Image: Bahraini protestors marching for prisoners of conscience, July 25, 2012: Al-Alam