The following statement was distributed by the Bahrain Writers Association and Bahrain PEN on March 16, 2011. PEN International also recently released a statement on the developments in the Middle East.

Bahrain Writers Association and Bahrain PEN Center appeal for help in the face of excessive force being used against the unarmed people of Bahrain who are exercising their legitimate rights for a democratic system.

Since March 15, 2011, unarmed citizens who were expressing their protests peacefully have been brutally attacked. Systematic attacks by security services on many Shi’ite cities and villages has resulted in a number of deaths and hundreds wounded.

At dawn on Wednesday, March 16, mounted riot police backed by the armed forces of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates attacked hundreds of families in the sit-in on Pearl Square without prior warning, using all kinds of firearms and Apache helicopters and closing all ports to prevent the escape of the protestors. They also prevented the access of medical aid and ambulances.

After that, the main Salmanya hospital was besieged and then raided by riot police. The Bahrain International Hospital and Ibn – Alnafees hospital were also surrounded, and as a result the number of deaths is expected to rise because people could not be treated. More troops from neighboring countries in the Gulf are expected to arrive in the coming days, in violation of the fundamental principles of freedom and democracy.

The Bahrain Writers Association and Bahrain PEN Center appeal to the international community to rapidly intervene to provide protection for the defenseless people of Bahrain in the face of oppression and brute force exercised by the Bahraini authorities and Gulf allies.

16th March 2011

Ahmed Alajmi
Acting President
Bahrain Writers Association

Fareed Ramadan
Acting President
Bahrain PEN Center