Bahrain has once again banned all public demonstrations and protests following confrontations between democracy protesters and security forces. The interior minister is claiming that "repeated abuse" of freedom of speech can no longer be tolerated.
The move is a travesty – and, sadly, just the latest in a series of mockeries this repressive Gulf kingdom has made of its claimed commitment to reform, human rights and national reconciliation.
What's really going on here?
Since pro-democracy protests began in February 2011, the Bahraini regime has repeatedly and brutally cracked down on anyone who has dared to demand basic freedoms, justice and accountable governance. Even doctors who tended to injured protesters have been jailed. Wealthy ally and neighbour Saudi Arabia has sent in troops and tried to bully western countries into turning a blind eye.
The torture, abuse and killing of activists in Bahrain has been well-documented. Yet criticism of the regime from key western powers, particularly the US, has been mysteriously tame. Why? This infographic offers a clue:
Yes, that's right: it's the US who supplies the monarchy with diplomatic support and advanced weapons while using it as a strategic naval port.
Just like Russia with Syria, in recent years the US has provided Bahrain with more than half of its foreign arms purchases. That's about $1.4bn since 2000. What's more, Bahrain hosts the US's massive (and massively strategic) fifth fleet, in charge of patrolling the Gulf and keeping an eye on mutual enemy Iran.
Despite the regime's brutality, fearless Bahraini activists have been continuing their struggle for freedom since February 2011. But the reality is this: until the US and its allies decide to put the lives of the Bahraini people ahead of their global power plays, the regime will continue to abuse, detain and torture citizens, and make a mockery of the very "freedoms" the US claims to champion.
[UPDATE: 2nd November. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has raised concerns over the ban imposed by the Bahrain regime on all public demonstrations and gatherings and iscalling on the government of Bahrain to lift the restrictions immediately.]
Sources: BBC, Avaaz, UN News Centre