(ANSAmed) - ROME, SEPTEMBER 25 - Bahrain's opposition members who are in Rome today for a meeting with the Italian Senate's human rights commission said they are inspired by Gandhi, the late leader of the Indian independence movement. 'In Bahrain we have learnt very well the lesson of Mahatma Gandhi', said Jasim Hussein, a former MP in Bahrain who is visiting with Hadi Almossawi, also a member of the al-Wefaq party. Al-Wefaq, whose religious orientation is Shiite, is the main opposition force in the country where a growing front has been asking the royal al-Khalifa family for democratic reforms since February 2011.
'Our protest is peaceful', said Hussein and Almossawi, who were invited to talk by Radical Senator Marco Perduca. 'Our movement can be compared to the non-violent one of Gandhi. But the state has chosen since the beginning to respond with unprecedented violence'.
In a year and a half of protests, said the two activists, 'dozens of demonstrators have been killed by our army and by Saudi troops who have come to help the monarchy. Several thousands of people have been arrested. Hundreds have been tortured during their detention, including athletes and journalists who expressed their support for the protest and have been tortured as a consequence. Dozens of doctors who helped demonstrators were fired, the same fate of 20 university professors. Many students were expelled from the university of Manama (the capital). Not even taxi drivers were spared and had their licences withdrawn'.
Moreover, in an unprecedented case in a Muslim country, ' 35 mosques were destroyed' said the activists. The mosques were places of worship for Shiite Muslims, the majority in Bahrain, which is dominated by a Sunni elite.
After an independent investigative commission confirmed violence and abuse, the UN Human Rights Council issued 176 recommendations for Manama, which has mostly accepted them, at least formally. In the next two months, authorities will need to brief the UN on the measures undertaken as a consequence.