Tamarod Bahrain Resilient in Face of Government Crackdown

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Though the Aug. 14 Tamarod Bahrain demonstrations prompted a strong reaction from the kingdom’s authorities, the movement’s leaders and members insist its cause is gaining ground.

Bahraini dissidents reacted favorably to the Tamarod Bahrain (Bahrain Rebellion) campaign, which was announced at the beginning of July and officially launched on Aug. 14, 2013. But the state reacted with troubling and  violent measures, as it adopted new laws that limit personal liberties and freedom of expression, ban demonstrations, threaten to strip people of their citizenship and impose harsh sentences on opposition members. That state also deployed a heavy security presence in all areas, villages and alleyways, thus making demonstrating on the ground an act fraught with great difficulties.

Following the enactment by King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa of a law prohibiting demonstrations and congregation in the capital, Manama, campaign organizers announced that their destination continues to be the capital, and that their movement would remain open without it being confined to a certain hour or day.

In this regard, the spokesman for the Tamarod Bahrain Movement, Hussein Youssef, told As-Safir: “Aug. 14 marked the launch of a political project that will endure no matter how complicated the security situation becomes, because our reliance is on the strategy of popular street action, which does not end even if the movement’s leadership is arrested.”

Youssef affirmed that the campaign is organizing “an open planning session to study the opportunities and challenges and arrange new popular measures that would drain the dictatorial regime’s security and political resources. It would minimize as much as possible human and material losses by relying on peaceful action.”

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In a response to official Bahraini media sources and reporting that described what occurred on Aug. 14 as having culminated in failure, Youssef said, “Those who said that the Aug. 14 street movement was a failure did not accurately assess the achievements [made that day]. Through the launch of this movement, we succeeded in transforming Aug. 14 into a national holiday. Whoever reviews what occurred on that and following days will conclude that the campaign fully controlled the size of the demonstrations and consequent deployment of security forces to certain areas by making prior announcements about these demonstrations, while embarking on demonstrations and rallies that were only announced after they started in other areas. The campaign also succeeded in implementing a wide-ranging voluntary civil disobedience movement by the proprietors of small- and medium-sized commercial enterprises.”

Youssef said organizing 120 demonstrations in various areas, where the participants all complied with the established tactics and instructions, and the fact that no deaths were registered despite the aggressiveness and mobilization of heavily armed security forces is also considered a success. He added, “The country is now completely paralyzed and Bahrain was put under a media microscope throughout the 40 days that preceded the launch of the campaign, which continues on today. The regime is in a state of unprecedented political and security hysteria, with its attempts to garner international condemnation against the campaign having all resulted in failure.”

Youssef opined that the campaign succeeded in reaching out to all opposition groups, as well as some political sympathizers, which restored vigor and vitality to the street movement.

Further elaborating on the achievements of the Tamarod Bahrain Movement, Youssef said, “Beginning with the preparations that preceded it, and all the way to its launch, the campaign’s successes can be divided into four main categories: political, in the media, on the streets and morale. Tamarod also instituted a radical shift in the way peaceful street movements are organized, thus pushing national opposition forces into re-evaluating the strategies used during peaceful actions.”

It should be mentioned that in addition to Tamarod Bahrain’s calls for demonstrations and social disobedience, other Bahraini opposition political organizations also rose to support the right to peacefully demonstrate and condemned attacks perpetrated against demonstrators. Furthermore, the Feb. 14 Youth Coalition called for sit-ins and demonstrations to be organized in support of and in coordination with Tamarod Bahrain throughout the country’s villages and regions.

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