People & Power

Bahrain: Fighting for change

As unrest sweeps through the Middle East, People & Power looks at the mounting pressure for reform in Bahrain.

Pro-democracy activists in the Gulf state of Bahrain have been on the streets of the capital Manama for four weeks, but have yet to win the kind of dramatic results achieved by their counterparts in Egypt and Tunisia.
At first their demands were for constitutional reform and a reduction of the powers of King Hamad and the al-Khalifa ruling family, but opinion hardened after an attempted government crackdown in the first days of the protest saw seven demonstrators killed at Manama’s Pearl Roundabout.

Although the army then withdrew and the regime began calling for dialogue, many protestors now want an end to the monarchy altogether.
The situation is further complicated by the fact that while the ruling dynasty is Sunni, the majority of the population and many of the protestors are Shia, and have long complained of political persecution.
With the US, which sees Bahrain as a key ally, and nearby Saudi Arabia and Iran all having a strategic interest, stakes are high.
As reporter John D McHugh discovered for People & Power, the young activists driving the protests are determined not to back down.

Update Wednesday, March 16:


Sayed Ahmed Alwedaye, who featured in this edition of People & Power and who was an activist and protestor with the November 14 opposition movement, was among a number of people reportedly arrested in Bahrain this morning.

His current whereabouts are unknown. At least six people are reported dead and hundreds injured after security forces in Bahrain drove out pro-democracy protesters from the Pearl Roundabout in Manama, the country’s capital.

This episode of People & Power can be seen from Wednesday, March 9, at the following times GMT: Wednesday: 2230; Thursday: 0930; Friday: 0330; Saturday: 1630; Sunday: 2230; Monday: 0930.