Probably when you think of Bahrain you do not thing of Swaziland... or vice versa. Me neither, admittedly. But I just stumbled on them almost together and almost for the same reasons when browsing the news. And they have at least some stuff in common it seems: absolute monarchs put in place by Britain in the colonial period, as well as popular uprisings against them.
Hunger strike in Bahrain
Bahrain, a small oil-rich island state, has become the epicenter of the Arab Revolution in the Persian Gulf. The popular uprising, which seemed about to succeed, deposing one of those stupid absolute monarchies, vassal totalitarian principalities, promoted by Anglosaxon imperialism, was quelled by means of Saudi intervention, sparking a wave of arrests and repression to this day, including some killings.
Yesterday, Zainab Al-Khawaja, the daughter of one of the human rights' activists arrested under the Saudi invasion, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja (left), has declared herself in hunger strike, demanding his release and that of other relatives.
This courageous action has at least the potential of extending the revolutionary pulse of Bahraini society into the immediate future, beyond a repression which has probably got one of every thousand Baharainis in jail by now.
However the real challenge for the revolution to continue in the area is to extend itself into the hyper-totalitarian theocracy of the Ibn Sauds, where fear seems to dominate at all levels. Once Saudi Arabia falls, the rest are sure to follow suit easily.
Far away into Southern Africa, there is another of those Anglosaxon-created totalitarian monarchies, it is called Swaziland and is no Disneyland: while 70% of the denizens live in abject poverty (< $1.00 per day) the autocrat Mswati III ranks among the wealthiest princes of Earth with a fortune of $100 million, has a harem of 13 wives, and rules without concessions to parliamentarism or any sort of modernity.
Placed between Johannesburg, Maputo and Durban, some of the most thriving metropolis of Africa, such a totalitarian anachronism could not survive for long, even if rural and "independent".
Hence thousands of protesters took to the streets of the capital, Mbabane, called by the teachers' union in the 38th anniversary of the coup that suppressed any form of popular representation (1973). The demonstrations have been repressed by police, which has performed many arrests, including seven unionists and one journalist.