Photo: AP Photo/Hasan Jamali
The U.S. has been selling arms to Bahrain amid the small Mideast nation’s increasingly repressive crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, Justin Elliot of ProPublica reports.The sales, combined with allegations of censorship by U.S. media, seems to corroborate claims that America has turned a blind eye to the bloody repression inside the country.
The Bahraini uprising — which initially called for greater political freedom and equality for the majority Shia population — began peacefully in February 2011. It was met with a harsh response by the U.S.-backed Sunni ruling party as unarmed protesters were allegedly detained, tortured, targeted by “live ammunition air strikes from Cobra helicopters” and thrown in jail for life.
defence Department documents released to ProPublica reveal that between February 2011 and February 2012 the U.S. sold the Sunni kingdom items relating to ammunition, combat vehicle parts, communications equipment, Cobra and Blackhawk helicopters, and an unidentified missile system.
Elliot notes that it’s unclear whether the arms have been delivered or if the names of the weapons listed may refer to maintenance or spare parts.
The State Department told ProPublica that the U.S. has only been selling Bahrain items “related exclusively to external defence, counter-terrorism, and the protection of U.S. forces.”
The circumstances surrounding Bahrain led Al-Jazeera to describe the uprising as “the Arab revolution that was abandoned by the Arabs, forsaken by the West and forgotten by the world.”
Former CNN reporter Amber Lyon helped create a series of investigative reports documenting the oppression in Bahrain, but she says the network pressured her to insert Bahraini government propaganda into her stories.
The three-time Emmy winner said she “saw first-hand that these regime claims were lies, and I couldn’t believe CNN was making me put what I knew to be government lies into my reporting.”
In one instance her team produced a hard-hitting 13-minute segment on Bahrain for CNN International, — the most-watched English-speaking news outlet in the Middle East — but the network has refused to broadcast the program.
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