The Bahrain Ghetto: Barbed Wire Fencing Goes Up Around Certain Neighborhoods

The regime in Bahrain has been one of the world’s greatest human rights abusers over the past several years, yet there’s barely a peep by our “most transparent ever” President Barrack Obama. Why?

Well, as anyone with even the slightest degree of geopolitical awareness knows, Bahrain is home to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which represents the regional forces responsible for protecting regional “democracy,” ie the petrodollar. In exchange for our key military base, the U.S. turns a blind eye to the autocratic activities of the feudal monarchy that runs the place. The latest civil rights abuse is the emergence of razor-wire and concrete structures around certain neighborhoods of the capital city of Manama so that the citizenry cannot engage in protest. From the Washington Post:

MANAMA, Bahrain — Inspired by the movement behind Egypt’s military coup, anti-government activists seeking more influence in Bahrain are hoping to gain new momentum by calling for nationwide protests Wednesday. Authorities warned they will “forcefully confront” any large demonstrations, raising fears of more violence in the strategic Gulf kingdom.

Concrete barriers lined major streets in the capital, Manama, and security checkpoints surrounded by barbed wire guarded roads leading to the city from majority Shiite neighborhoods that house many of the protesters. And hundreds of security forces in riot gear stood guard near armored personnel carriers around what used to be Pearl Square, the epicenter of weeks of anti-government rallies that were met with a crackdown in 2011.

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Meet Amber Lyon: Former Reporter Exposes Massive Censorship at CNN

I 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.
- Amber Lyon

The Amber Lyon story is just the latest in a series of articles that expose the total Joseph Goebbels like censorship rampant in mainstream media today.  The first one I posted several weeks ago exposed how the NY Times basically just regurgitates whatever government officials tell them, while the other showcased how an NPR reporter covering D.C. had to leave and do her own thing out of frustration.  This is precisely why alternative media sites are taking off.  They provide the only outlets left for genuine journalism.

So back to Amber.  Back in March 2011, CNN sent a four person team to Bahrain to cover the Arab Spring.  Once there, the crew was the subject of extreme intimidation amongst other things, but they were able to record some fantastic footage.  As Glenn Greenwald of the UK’s Guardian writes in his blockbuster article from today:

In the segment, Lyon interviewed activists as they explicitly described their torture at the hands of government forces, while family members recounted their relatives’ abrupt disappearances. She spoke with government officials justifying the imprisonment of activists. And the segment featured harrowing video footage of regime forces shooting unarmed demonstrators, along with the mass arrests of peaceful protesters. In sum, the early 2011 CNN segment on Bahrain presented one of the starkest reports to date of the brutal repression embraced by the US-backed regime.

Despite these accolades, and despite the dangers their own journalists and their sources endured to produce it, CNN International (CNNi) never broadcast the documentary. Even in the face of numerous inquiries and complaints from their own employees inside CNN, it continued to refuse to broadcast the program or even provide any explanation for the decision. To date, this documentary has never aired on CNNi.

Having just returned from Bahrain, Lyon says 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.”

After Lyon’s crew returned from Bahrain, CNN had no correspondents regularly reporting on the escalating violence. In emails to her producers and executives, Lyon repeatedly asked to return to Bahrain. Her requests were denied, and she was never sent back. She thus resorted to improvising coverage by interviewing activists via Skype in an attempt, she said, “to keep Bahrain in the news”.

In March 2012, Lyon was laid off from CNN as part of an unrelated move by the network to outsource its investigative documentaries.

“At this point,” Lyon said, “I look at those payments as dirty money to stay silent. I got into journalism to expose, not help conceal, wrongdoing, and I’m not willing to keep quiet about this any longer, even if it means I’ll lose those payments.”

Amber Lyons, I salute you.

Please forward this post to everyone you know.  I for one want to live in a country with some real and free press.  Not some CIA propaganda arm that pretends to be a reliable source of news.

Read Greenwald’s excellent article here.

In Liberty,
Mike