“Yasqut Hamad”

Bahrain’s uprising began on 14 February 2011, just days after the fall of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. Bahrainis took to the streets marching to Manama’s Pearl Roundabout demanding reforms from the Gulf island’s al-Khalifa monarchy. Riot police quickly cracked down, and a number of protesters were killed and the roundabout was cleared.

Activists told me that it was after the violence against their peaceful movement that their chants changed from calling for reform to calling for the downfall of King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, or “yasqut Hamad.”

In March, as the NATO warplanes readied to intervene in Libya’s uprising on behalf of the protesters, Saudi and other troops from the Gulf readied to do just the opposite n Bahrain. Thousands crossed the causeway linking Saudi Arabia to Bahrain to help the al-Khalifas quell the one-month-old pro-democracy movement. Pearl Monument, which had become the uprising’s symbol, was destroyed. Coins bearing the monument were even taken out of circulation.

Soon after the brutal period of martial law that lasted nearly three months was lifted, protests recommenced. With their monument gone and the roundabout heavil guarded by barbed wire and army troops, protests have been largely confined to villages with activists vowing to one day return to what they’ve renamed “Martyrs’ Square.”

These pictures were taken in late 2011.

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