Bahrain may not have large portions of its population taking part in daily marches any more, but the opposition to the monarchy and resentment at the violent, Saudi-aided crackdown against those demonstrations is lingering. Smaller rallies still break out from time to time, but those involved report that the regime’s moves against them have actually gotten worse, not better, than when Bahrain’s crackdowns were actually a major news topic in the west.
“The repression is getting worse,” one of the protesters reported, while others described savage beatings at the hands of police. Rallies have becoming something akin to flash mobs, with the groups massing impromptu and scrambling at the first sign of police presence.
Manama police defended their role, saying they don’t arrest large numbers of people but that “if we catch someone they are in trouble. They can lose their job or be thrown out of their studies.” In May the Bahraini government demanded all university students to sign loyalty pledges of face expulsion.
The consequences of being caught protesting are indeed large for Bahrain’s dissidents, but they don’t end with losing their job or being thrown out of school. Rather, a number of prisoners are reporting that they were subjected to torture, with one human rights official noting it was “very rare” to find someone who was not abused. Two of the arrested members of parliament, recently released by the regime, also confirmed they had been tortured.