Bahrain police disperse protests

2012-02-14 14:02

Dubai - Bahraini police dispersed protesters who made several attempts on Tuesday to mark the anniversary of last year's uprising by marching to the site of the protest that was brutally crushed, witnesses said.

Several protests took off from Shi'ite villages on the outskirts of Manama, with youth trying to reach the capital's former Pearl Square, where democracy demonstrators camped for a month last year before being forcefully driven out.

Protesters marched from Sanabis, Deih and Jidhafs, which lie few kilometres west of Manama, despite police warning that protests would be dispersed, witnesses said.

"Down with [King] Hamad!" they chanted, referring to the Sunni monarch whose Al-Khalifa has ruled the Shi'ite-majority Gulf kingdom since the 18th century.

The Coalition of the Youth of February 14th Revolution, a hardline group that operates apart from the political opposition led by Al-Wefaq, declared on Tuesday the day to return to the square that was razed after the mid-March crackdown.

"All of us are returning" to the square, read a call for protest posted on its Facebook page.

13 detained

The coalition posted footage of youth dressed in white Islamic death shrouds running through some alleys claiming they were heading to the square that is heavily protected by security forces.

It also posted a picture of women dressed in traditional black abayas (cloaks) standing close to the square flashing the victory sign.

On Tuesday, Al-Wefaq accused security forces of waging a campaign of arrests against people who took part in protests.

It said 13 people were detained, including female activist Maasouma al-Sayyed, who is reported to have reached the square area.

It said police raided Shi'ite villages where many houses were hit by tear gas canisters, and that several arrests took place overnight.

Activists have called for demonstrations on Monday and Tuesday at the square.

Renewing vows

But the Al-Wefaq-led alliance of opposition groups said on Monday following a large protest organised outside Manama that although Pearl Square has "become a symbol" for protest, it is not the only one, clearly distancing itself from the call to return.

"All squares and streets of the country are sites that we use to renew our vows to press ahead in our struggle to achieve our demands," including a powerful parliament, representative government and redrawn "fair" electoral constituencies, it said.

Bahraini security forces, boosted by Gulf troops that rolled in from neighbouring Saudi Arabia, quelled the month-long protest that appeared to take a cue from Arab Spring uprisings.

Human rights activist Nabeel Rajab, who has been holding daily protests in Manama with a group of activists, called for another march to Pearl Square.

"Let's drive at 15:30 towards the square, step out of cars and run to the [Pearl] roundabout," he wrote on his twitter account.

Leading Wefaq activist and former MP Matar Matar said security measures taken by authorities to prevent demonstrations amount to an "undeclared state of emergency".

Sincere action

King Hamad called for "cohesion" among Bahrainis in a statement released on Monday to celebrate the 11th anniversary of the referendum on the charter that revived the parliament after it was dissolved in 1975.

"Lets begin a new phase of serious and sincere action aimed to achieve what is good for our homeland and its people," he said, as the Sunni-Shi'ite rift has grown deeper in the tiny nation.

The death toll from last year's unrest was 35, including five security personnel and five detainees tortured to death while in custody, an international probe found last November.

But Amnesty International said "at least a further 20 have died since" in protests because of the continued use of excessive force by security personnel.


  • Fidel - 2012-02-14 15:00

    The pro-Arab League brigades are conspicious by their absence. Your silence is deafening.

      Bomb - 2012-02-14 15:13

      thank goodness for that, dont have to read the drivel they usually post

      Anthony - 2012-02-14 17:57

      @Fidel, Don't be ridiculous!!!! The Arab League has its hands full attending to that thug in Syria. Just in case you don't follow the news, or rather, you not want to know about the autrocities, this criminal assad , is subjecting the Syrian population to, EVERY single day, fifty , and on good days for this tyrant, one hundred, mostly unarmed civilians are mowed down. The only friends, and ,coincidental, your heros !!!!, this assad, has left, are Chavez, Mugabe, Ahmadinejad, and some fellow THUGS!!!!!

      Fidel - 2012-02-14 18:14

      I've told you in the past that irresponsibility is not freedom. The so-called "democracy loving" insurgents are equally responsible for the bloodshed in that country. They should talk with their government, they are not going to shoot their way to power.

      Anthony - 2012-02-14 19:23

      If you include in your "democracy loving" insurgents, the thousands of brave Syrian army deserters, sure, they are now fighting back. And when you say "talk to their government" you are just ignoring the fact, that one cannot talk to a dictator. And in any case, for FOURTY YEARS, opposition to the assad dynasty, have tried to talk. Now, the time for talk, or at least "trying" to talk, IS OVER. The opposition has been pushed over the line; They will NOT stop now, till these assad THUGS, are gone or dead. NOTHING BUT NOTHING, WILL STOP THEM NOW!!!!!! And anyone not accepting this fact, has not got a clue what the Arab Spring is about. It might take another month, maybe another year, possibly two years, BUT GO, THESE CRIMINAL THUGS WILL!!!!

      Fidel - 2012-02-15 00:24

      You say time to talk is over, fine, don't complain then when their irresponsible actions result in death. War equals DEATH!

      Anthony - 2012-02-15 04:20

      "Irresponsible" !!! What are you talking about ??? Are you saying that the brave ones, who helped got rid of tyranny in SA, were irresponsible ????????????????????

      Fidel - 2012-02-15 09:00

      MK didn't shoot its way into the Union Buildings. They calculated and conceded that they couldn't defeat the Nats regime militarily as any war with SADF would have resulted in countless unnecessary deaths. They showed true leadership, because they were organised and had structures, unlike these so called insurgents. They wrote in the old days that it is sweet and fitting to die for one's country. But in modern war, there is nothing sweet nor fitting in your dying. You will die like a dog for no good reason. -Ernest Hemmingway

  • faerrab - 2012-02-15 08:51

    Bahrain Monarchy is armed by the US (including riot euipment) and hosts the US fifth fleet - Once again US hypocrisy is glaring

      Fred - 2012-02-15 08:59

      Thankfully the days of the freer world having to choose which dictators to work with in the Middle East are coming to an end, with the rise of Middle East democracies.

      nowicki1 - 2012-04-27 22:04

      still calling it the freer world Fred? Really?

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