Bahrain: Revolution on walls

There is a consistent theme to most villages around Bahrain: their walls are all covered in anti-regime graffiti. Every night activists take their spray cans and practice one of the most common forms of public art around the world.

Most of the graffiti criticizes the government or calls for the downfall of the king of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, and the entire al-Khalifa regime. Much of the graffiti also references Pearl roundabout in the capital Manama, which was the epicenter of the protest movement earlier this year. In March, the roundabout along with its tall white Pearl monument, were destroyed by the government. Since then, protesters have called for a “return” to what they’ve renamed “Martyrs’ square” in honor of the more than 40 people killed since the uprising began in February.

The graffiti is hardly permanent and often changes depending on the political climate at any given time. Most mornings, security forces (many of them non-Bahrainis or recently naturalized citizens, which is why activists refer to them as “mercenaries”) erase as much as they can until activists again paint their messages. It’s a never-ending cycle. As long as the political battle for democracy remains at an impasse, expect Bahrain’s walls to remained covered.

These images taken in recent months, show a selection of some of the graffiti — written in Arabic and English — on walls in villages all over Bahrain.

Bahrain: Revolution on walls – Images by Matthew Cassel

Miami Model coming to Bahrain

I just returned from my second trip to Bahrain in recent months to hear the news that the ruling al-Khalifa family has hired former Miami police chief John Timoney to help “implement reforms.” Here are some pics of Timoney implementing reforms when he first put the “Miami Model” into practice against people protesting the Free Trade Area of the Americas in 2003 (For more read my comment piece, “Even Bahrain’s use of ‘Miami model’ policing will not stop the uprising,” published today in the Guardian’s Comment is Free):

Miami, 2003 (image: Matthew Cassel)

A protester injured in the head by a rubber bullet fired by Timoney's police force, Miami, 2003 (image: Matthew Cassel)