“Eyewitness to AJE: The army shot us today, not police.”

by zunguzungu

That’s from Chan’ad Bahraini, who also tweeted these words, reported on Al Jazeera English, to his thousand followers:

  • “Doctor to AJE: We have alot of casualties in which their skull is just shatterd. Many bullet shots are to head”
  • “Doctor in #Bahrain to AJE: The number of casualties is uncountable!”
  • “Doctor from #Bahrain on AJE: We call on everyone in the world to help. We can not tolerate this. The hospital is full, we can not breath”
  • “AJE Reporter: Doctor told me all injuries are shots to the head, not to the body. Live bullets, not buckshot or rubber #Bahrain
  • “This is crazy. I can’t tell the difference between Bahrain and Libya now”

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof is also in Bahrain, it seems, and has been tweeting this to the one million people or so who follow him:

  • “Army just fired again on #Bahrain protesters.”
  • “Police attacking protesters here at hospital in #Bahrain. Tear gas inside. Panic.”
  • “Panicked crowds running thru hospital after police attack. Drs rushing to ER. Tear gas grenades outside, wafting in.”
  • “Patients pouring into ER, along w tear gas . Chaos. Tr gas grenades thudding in bckground”
  • “Lots of casualties. ER filling up. 1 a girl of abt 13, writhing on stretcher. 1 a man w terrible head wound.”
  • “Worst injuries from those at Deh marching toward Pearl. Many head wounds. Unsure if live fire or rubber bullets.”
  • “ABt 20 patients so far, 1 nr death. Ambulances say many many more casualties but they are denied access.”
  • “Man in blood drenched shirt just walked in. Drs outraged, helping me get stories and video.”

Yesterday, the United States’ State department publicly urged the government of Bahrain to show restraint, to refrain from using violence against peaceful protesters. Today, the government of Bahrain showed no apparent restraint in using violence against peaceful protesters. Also today, Bahrain Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad was quoted as calling “for self-restraint from all sides, the armed forces, security men, and citizens.” So we’re all agreed on that point.

Except, of course, for Bahrain’s military, the only people using violence. But of course, no one ordered them to. It just sort of happened. And certainly, if someone had ordered them to open fire on peaceful protesters, well, there is certainly nothing that the US could do about it but urge restraint. It’s a whole different country.

This is a doctor in Bahrain, Dr. Ghassan, imploring the world to take notice:

This is Al Jazeera’s report:

Does the fact that the US has a naval base in the same city play into this? Should it? And what does it mean if it does not? Perhaps the US has hospitals in that navy base? Perhaps it has an ambulance or two?

In a state department cable from 2008, a scene-setter for General Petreus’ visit made available for us by wikileaks, Bahrain’s dependence on the US was described this way:

Bahrain’s national security strategy rests squarely on the presence here of NAVCENT/Fifth Fleet headquarters and Bahrain’s close security partnership with the U.S.

and

As the smallest Gulf state, Bahrain has historically needed closer security ties with a western patron than any of its neighbors. As a result, the U.S. Navy has had a presence here since the closing days of the second world war. As General Mansoori’s command of CTF 152 demonstrates, we can use our close security ties with Bahrain to continue pushing the envelope for GCC-U.S. security cooperation.

The United States is very close to this government. If you ask googlemaps how long it takes to drive from Salmaniya hospital to the US naval base in Manama — the location of the Navy’s 5th fleet — googlemaps tells you it takes 12 minutes. Here’s the route:

If you ask googlemaps how long it takes to drive from the hospital to the US embassy, it takes six minutes.