Six American Activists Arrested in Bahrain and Deported

Article excerpt

Bahraini authorities arrested and deported six Americans who say they were there as part of a monitoring mission during a security crackdown on the first anniversary of the country's popular uprising.

The American activists are members of Witness Bahrain, a newly created US. group of civilian observers. All six were arrested Feb. 14 in the capital of Manama while accompanying human rights activist Nabeel Rajab during a protest march toward the Pearl Roundabout, the epicenter of last year's antigovernment protests, which were crushed weeks after they began.

In addition to the six Americans, police arrested dozens of protesters, including women and children, according to Al Wefaq, the country's main political opposition party, which is aligned with Shiite Islam, Also detained were several human rights activists, among them Rajab, who was later released.

Speaking to NCR upon his return to the U.S. Feb. 16, one of the arrested American activists said he had decided to go to the country because he thought "somebody needed to be there."

Brian Terrell, a co-coordinator for Voices for Creative Nonviolence, said that he was in a car with a caravan of vehicles when people in his car "looked behind us and saw police and armored cars going the other way on the road very, very fast We turned around directly behind us and saw a wall of tear gas."

"All over town, people were coming from different directions, trying to get to the Pearl Roundabout and facing attacks with tear gas, possible arrests and beatings," Terrell said.

Eventually, he said, the police pulled their vehicle over and apprehended those inside.

According to Medea Benjamin, a human rights activist and member of Witness Bahrain, other demonstrators attempted to drive to the roundabout, causing a traffic jam. Referring to King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the country's Sunni leader, drivers were honking their horns to the rhythm of "Down! Down! King Hamad," Benjamin wrote in a Feb. …