Americans arrested, deported by Bahrain for supporting democracy protests

The Americans Radhika Sainath and Huwaida Arraf were arrested and deported by Bahrain for showing solidarity with democracy protesters in the kingdom.

Two Americans, Radhika Sainath and Huwaida Arraf, were arrested by Bahraini authorities for their role in current protests against that country’s regime. They were arrested Saturday in Manama while acting as part of a team of monitors of peaceful protests. 

According to the 14 February Media Network in Bahrain, they were deported Sunday morning. The Americans “were handcuffed behind their backs on flight from Bahrain to London.”

The women were volunteers with the Witness Bahrain program, which situates observers in trouble spots, including Shiite villages, in the hopes that western presence will inhibit violence by security forces. Last year, those forces killed dozens of protesters who gathered at Manama’s Pearl Roundabout.

Footage of Arraf's arrest:

The women were arrested downtown in Manama at one of the latest demonstrations in favor of increased democracy in the Gulf nation.

According to a member of the Bahraini human rights community, who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation, the arrest of journalists, and their analogues, is far from rare and rarely fatal.

“Journalists are often detained from time to time here,” she said, “but they won't dare touch them especially if they're US citizens. The U.S State Department is already involved in the case and I've no doubt they'll be released unharmed (like the others.) It'll be shocking if this story has a different ending, but I doubt that will happen.”

Sainath, a civil rights attorney in California, outlined the circumstances that lead to her presence in the Bahraini capital in a blog post on Witness Bahrain’s website.

A small group of us were on the initial Skype call with human rights activists from Bahrain. A doctor who I only knew by the name of A* explained how security forces would attack Shia villages with teargas and birdshot on a daily basis, break into houses at night and toss teargas canisters into tightly packed homes, arresting anyone suspected of involvement in the democracy movement.

Would we come and stay in these villages? Surely, the government would behave differently if Americans and Europeans were watching.

Bahrain is a major American ally in the Middle East and provided staging grounds for the invasions of both Afghanistan and Iraq. The country is regional fleet headquarters for the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet and the Naval Central Command, covering the Gulf, the Arabian Sea and the Red Sea.

Curt Hopkins is a production editor and international reporter for the technology blog site, ReadWriteWeb.com,

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.