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Bahrain: Is a Revolution Just?

March 22, 2011


Recently, more and more countries in the Middle East have erupted in protests and demonstrations, which are now escalating into violent battles between the government and protesters.  In Bahrain, a country ruled by a family of minority Sunni muslims, the Shiite majority is finally calling for end to discrimination and corruption.  In the disturbing opening scene of the video posted above, a man participating in a nonviolent protest is shot outright by the police force attempting to control the situation.

As I cringed watching the scene, I immediately recognized the situation as one in which John Locke would consider a revolution of the people not only their right, but their obligation.  In Chapter 13 of the Second Treatise, Locke states, “the community perpetually retains a supreme power of saving themselves from the attempts and designs of anybody, even of their legislators, whenever they shall be so foolish, or so wicked, as to lay and carry on designs against the liberties and properties of the subject.” The ruling family of Bahrain, led by King Hamad, has created an atmosphere of oppression of human rights, filled with torture practices and injustice of the Shiite muslims, who are left with no political avenues to gain their freedom.  Most recently, crimes against the Shiites have included arbitrarily arresting, beating and torturing doctors and activists.  The people of Bahrain have the power to revolt against a government that is taking away their natural rights of life, liberty and property.

U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who has been in contact with Bahrain recently, as the violence has risen, says, “Violence is not and cannot be the answer. A political process is. That process should unfold in a peaceful, positive atmosphere that protects the freedom of peaceful assembly while ensuring that students can go to school, businesses can operate, and people can undertake their normal daily activities” (CNN).  According to Locke, rebellion is justified if the government is acting against the ends for which it was created and there are no other peaceful and legal solutions to the problem.  In the case of the Bahrainian people, all forms of legal remedies and peaceful protests have been exhausted, so violence is erupting.  Since the government right now is a monarchy, the citizens have little to no say on how the laws are made, which makes them helpless in stopping the injustice. Though the United States is arguably overstretched already militarily, we must be relentless supporters of the worldwide protection of human rights, which entails stepping in to support the rebels’ cause.

In another video about the unrest of the country posted below, which focuses on a hospital in the country, a nurse cries out, “This democracy?! I don’t know! This is Bahrain?! I don’t know!” Her depressing sentiment makes it clear that the government has shifted from fulfilling the duties for which it was elected to creating a tyranny and slashing the human rights of its citizens.  Locke would most definitely approve of the uprising of Bahrain citizens in order to establish a constitutional monarchy because all other means for change have been halted.

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  1. Justin Kucera permalink
    March 22, 2011 11:56 PM

    This is quite sad what is happening. All over the world it seems like revolutions are popping up every week. Although people get hurt protesting, it has to be done for the common good of the people that live in the country. People need to protest and do something about this unjust government. Another thing that is quite disturbing about this situation is the fact that religion is the reason for this discrimination. Religion should never be the reason to unleash violence against people but sadly difference of religion is a problem that leads to violence all over the world.

  2. jasonkraman permalink
    March 24, 2011 2:28 AM

    I may agree with your point that the people of Bahrain need to revolt under the principle of Locke. However, I don’t know if your claim is sound when you say that it is the responsibility of America to support such a revolt. Locke believes it is the right of those people in their society and government to abolish and create a new governance. I don’t believe Locke advocates the intervention from other parties and countries to establish the new peace and law. The people of the country should know what is best and not America.

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