Category: Bahraini Revolution


September 19, 2014

MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — Thousands of opposition supporters rallied in the tiny island nation of Bahrain on Friday to protest a proposal by the country’s leadership for legislative, security and judicial reforms.

The rally by members of the Shiite opposition came a day after the crown prince, Sheik Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, issued a statement summarizing proposed changes that included redefining electoral districts, promises of judicial reform and new codes of conduct for security forces.

The statement follows on-and-off again talks between opposition members and the government aimed at bringing about a political solution to more than three years of unrest. Bahrain is a strategically important Western ally, which hosts the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet. An opposition movement dominated by the country’s Shiite majority is demanding greater rights from the ruling Sunni monarchy.

The government moved to crush an Arab Spring-inspired uprising in 2011 with the help of security forces from Saudi Arabia and other neighboring Gulf Arab states. Dozens of protesters have been killed, as have some members of the security forces.

Protesters and opposition leaders on Friday dismissed the government’s plan as offering too little toward their goal of greater power-sharing in the kingdom. “We consider this letter to be a unilateral approach,” said Abdul-Jalil Khalil, a leading member of the main Shiite opposition bloc, al-Wefaq.

Wed Feb 26, 2014

An anti-government protester in Bahrain has died at the hands of the regime forces as deadly crackdown on peaceful demonstrations continues in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom.

Bahrain’s main opposition group, al-Wefaq, said on Wednesday that Jafar Sadiq al-Dirazi has died in jail due to torture and lack of medical treatment.

Reports say the man, from the town of Daih near the capital Manama, was suffering from anemia. He spent more than a month in prison.

Al-Wefaq earlier this week urged the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights as well as the Red Cross to look into the situation in the Dry Dock prison, located on the island of Muharraq.

Around 500 prisoners are on hunger strike in the notorious prison protesting against the mistreatment of the inmates. At least 3,000 detainees including women and children are being reportedly held in the Dry Dock prison.

The Bahraini regime’s human rights record has come under scrutiny over its handling of anti-regime protests that erupted across the country in early 2011.

Bahraini people initially demanded political reform and a constitutional monarchy, a demand that later changed to an outright call for the ouster of the ruling Al Khalifa family following its brutal crackdown on popular protests.

Manama also called in Saudi-led Arab forces from neighboring states. Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of others arrested in the clampdown.

Earlier this month, Amnesty International censured Bahrain’s “relentless repression” of anti-regime protesters, saying the regime’s security forces have “repeatedly” used “excessive force to quash anti-government protests.”

On February 14, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also called on the Manama regime to respect its “international human rights obligations” in dealing with peaceful protests in the country.

Source: PressTV.

Link: http://www.presstv.com/detail/352321.html.

February 15, 2014

MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — Bahraini anti-government activists clashed with security forces as thousands of demonstrators took to the streets on Saturday, sending tear gas into a major shopping mall and bringing the capital’s streets to a standstill on the same day that authorities said a police officer died of injuries sustained from an earlier bombing.

The Interior Ministry said that the officer was one of two injured in what it called a “terrorist blast” on Friday in the village of Dair, near the country’s main airport. It did not identify the officer. In a second statement, the ministry characterized recent attacks against security forces as “urban guerrilla warfare.”

Chaos in the small Gulf-island nation highlights deeper regional sectarian tensions that continue to roil Bahrain three years after the country’s majority Shiites began an Arab Spring-inspired uprising to demand greater political rights from the Sunni-led monarchy.

Neighboring Sunni-ruled Gulf countries with smaller Shiite populations, led by Saudi Arabia, sent troops to Bahrain in an effort to stem the uprising in 2011. More than 65 people have died in the unrest, but rights groups and others put the death toll higher.

Heeding calls by Bahrain’s main Shiite coalition al-Wefaq, around 15,000 Bahrainis marched in the capital Manama’s streets a day after the three-year anniversary of the start of the anti-government uprising.

The protesters marched for several miles (kilometers) before clashes erupted. Police fired tear gas at the crowd, which included women and children. The protesters carried the red and white Bahraini flag and signs that read “Democracy is the only solution”.

“I came to say that I refuse the way that my government treats people like me with discrimination,” prominent human rights activist Azhar Jaafar said. He was carrying the picture of a 22 year-old protester Nabeel Rajab, who is one of around 3,000 people believed to be behind bars for politically-related charges.

“Allahu Akbar!” or God is great, the crowd chanted as youth protesters erected makeshift barriers to keep police back. They burnt tires to block the effects of the tear gas and threw rocks back at the security forces. Some protesters were seen carrying Molotov cocktails.

Efforts to restart on-and-off reconciliation talks between the Shiite-dominated opposition and the Sunni monarchy and its allies have so far failed to bring an end to simmering unrest in the country, an American ally that hosts the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.

Activists frequently clash with police. Anti-government factions have been increasingly using small-scale bombs targeting government forces. Al-Wefaq said the protests Saturday were called to demand a democratic transition “in which the people are the source of all powers.” The group said the protest was also called to denounce the “free reign” given to security forces to exercise “heinous violations” against citizens.

The Interior Ministry says police have shown “incredible restraint in their use of force in dealing with violent rioters.” Former member of parliament and opposition figure Abdul-Jalil Khalil told The Associated Press that a “serious dialogue” is necessary, but that it cannot happen so long activists are imprisoned.

“Today’s events come as a result of a culture of denial by authorities who insist on security solutions and refuse to enter into meaningful dialogue,” he said.

February 14, 2014

MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — Explosions targeted police in Bahrain on Friday as clashes between security forces and anti-government protesters on the third anniversary of the Gulf nation’s uprising left dozens wounded, authorities and activists said.

Efforts to restart on-and-off reconciliation talks between the Shiite-dominated opposition and the Sunni monarchy and its allies have so far failed to bring an end to simmering unrest in the country, an American ally that hosts the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.

Activists frequently clash with police in mainly Shiite villages just beyond the modern skyscrapers and shopping malls of the capital, Manama. Tensions intensified as the anniversary of the Arab Spring-inspired uprising approached, with government forces tightening security and activists blocking roads to Shiite communities with oil slicks and smoldering debris.

Mohammed al-Maskati, the president of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, said his group recorded 38 protesters injured in clashes since Thursday evening. The injuries were caused by birdshot fire, tear gas and beatings, he said.

Government forces also reported casualties. An explosion struck a minibus carrying police Friday evening in Dih, the Ministry of Interior said on its official Twitter feed. Dih is a mainly Shiite village just west of the capital, Manama.

Photos released on the ministry’s Twitter feed showed the side panels of the white bus torn from the chassis and twisted upward near the wheel wells. A ministry official near the scene of the blast told reporters that three police officers were injured in the explosion. He insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

Another explosion injured two police officers in Dair, near the country’s main airport, according to the Interior Ministry. Anti-government factions have been increasingly using bombs targeting government forces, though they typically do not have the force of explosives used by insurgents in places such as Iraq or Syria. Authorities in late December announced the seizure of large amounts of explosives, automatic rifles and ammunition.

Earlier in the day, protesters were turned back by tear gas and stun grenades as they tried to make their way to the former site of Manama’s Pearl Square, the focal point for the protest movement that started on February 14, 2011. The square was cleared by police raids and later razed in the early weeks of the unrest and is now sealed off by security forces.

Some of the youths marching Friday were seen carrying Bahraini flags, while others were masked and held unlit Molotov cocktails or metal rods. Police used tear gas to prevent them from approaching the former protest grounds.

Opposition groups dominated by the country’s majority Shiites began protesting in 2011 to seek greater political rights from the country’s rulers. More than 65 people have died in the unrest, but rights groups and others place the death toll higher.

Neighboring Sunni-ruled Gulf countries, led by Saudi Arabia, sent troops to Bahrain to help quell the uprising. Many activists remain frustrated that too little has been done to meet their demands. “After three years the government did not achieve anything, only besieging Pearl Square,” said Wajiha Ali, a 23-year-old mother of two. “I really want to live in a country that respects me and gives me my full rights. … The government is not looking for long-term solutions, just security measures.”

On Thursday, the eve of the anniversary, 29 were arrested over “rioting and vandalism” in villages outside Manama, the Interior Ministry said. Roads were blocked, a car was burned by protesters and a school bus carrying children was attacked by “Molotov-throwing thugs,” the ministry alleged.

Repeated rounds of political talks have failed to significantly close the rifts between the two sides and the opposition is demanding amnesty for what they claim are more than 3,000 political prisoners held in Bahraini prisons.

Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa met with top opposition leaders last month to once again revive the talks. “The government is serious about dialogue and hope all others are also serious,” government spokeswoman Sameera Rajab told The Associated Press.

The main Shiite bloc al-Wefaq and other opposition groups see the negotiations as a positive step but have said their success depends on steps toward greater power sharing in the kingdom. But many activists in the streets have taken a harder line, calling for the toppling of the government and at times clashing violently with police.

“We have nothing to lose. They treat us like animals,” said protester Ali Jaber, 19, next to a makeshift roadblock set up using a downed lamp post in Dih earlier this week. Al-Wefaq head Ali Salman and other opposition leaders have urged followers to rally to an anti-government demonstration scheduled to be held Saturday east of the capital.

The United Nations expressed concern at Bahrain’s persistent violence, urging both sides to exercise restraint and authorities to act in strict accordance with their international human rights obligations.

“All Bahrainis should work toward creating a conducive atmosphere for a genuine dialogue in the interest of peace, stability, reform and prosperity for all Bahrainis,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said through a spokesman.

Associated Press writer Adam Schreck in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and Edith Lederer in New York contributed reporting.

MANAMA Sun Jan 26, 2014

(Reuters) – Bahraini police firing teargas and birdshot clashed with stone-throwing protesters in a village west of the capital on Sunday after the funeral of a young man who died in custody, witnesses said.

The tiny Gulf Arab island monarchy, a U.S. ally, has suffered unrest since mass protests led by majority Shi’ite Muslims erupted in early 2011 demanding reforms and a bigger share of power in the Sunni-led government.

Sunday’s violence following the death of 20-year-old Fadhel Abbas threatened to sour a new attempt to restart negotiations between Bahrain’s government, led by the ruling al-Khalifa family, and opposition groups.

Police said Abbas was detained on January 8 on suspicion of smuggling weapons and explosives and died late on Saturday.

The force’s statement, released on Sunday, said he was shot in a car while attempting to run over police who were trying to arrest him. Another person in the vehicle was in police custody, it added.

Hundreds of people attended his funeral in the village of Diraz on Sunday, said witnesses.

Afterwards, protesters blocked roads and set fire to debris in the streets, while security forces tried to break up the crowd. There were no initial reports of injuries.

The main opposition, Wefaq, said Abbas’ family had been prevented from visiting him in hospital – a report the government denied. Wefaq distributed photographs of his body appearing to show a large injury on the back of his head.

Last week, Bahrain’s crown prince restarted stalled talks with the opposition by meeting Wefaq’s leader Sheikh Ali Salman.

He also appointed a delegate from the ruling family to attend the dialogue, and agreed on a list of topics for discussion.

The last round of reconciliation talks was suspended last year with the government accusing Wefaq of secretly backing violent attacks on police, and the opposition accusing the authorities of cracking down on its members.

Bahrain is home to the U.S. Fifth Fleet.

(Reporting by Farishta Saeed; Writing by Angus McDowall; Editing by Sami Aboudi)

Source: Reuters.
Link: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/26/us-bahrain-clashes-idUSBREA0P0IO20140126.

September 20, 2013

MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — Bahrain’s main Shiite opposition group is defying a ban by the island’s Sunni government to have direct contacts with foreign diplomats.

Al Wefaq’s secretary-general, Sheik Ali Salman, met Norwegian political affairs envoy Hakon Smedsvig on Thursday in the Bahraini capital, Manama. Bahrain’s Western-backed monarchy earlier this month banned all diplomatic contacts by political groups unless they receive official permission. The move was sharply criticized by Western governments, including the U.S.

This week, authorities detained a top Al Wefaq official on allegations of inciting violence. In return, the group announced a boycott of reconciliation talks with the government. The strategic Gulf nation has been gripped by unrest since an uprising launched in early 2011 by majority seeking a greater political voice.

U.S. State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf said in a statement that in the last two years the Bahraini government and oppositions groups have been involved in important dialogue but that recent developments have hindered the process.

“The Government of Bahrain has recently issued decrees restricting the rights and abilities of political groups to assemble, associate, and express themselves freely, including by regulating their communications with foreign governments and international organizations,” the statement said.

September 18, 2013

MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — Bahrain’s main Shiite groups suspended participation in reconciliation talks with the Sunni-led government Wednesday after the detention of a top opposition figure in the violence-wracked Gulf nation.

The decision deepens the showdown over Khalil al-Marzooq, a former deputy parliament speaker, who is under investigation for allegedly encouraging anti-government violence. His supporters claim he was targeted by Bahrain’s Western-backed authorities in attempts to punish the opposition after recent criticism from European officials about government crackdowns on dissent.

Repeated rounds of political talks have failed to significantly close the rifts between the Sunni establishment and Shiite factions, which began an Arab Spring-inspired uprising in early 2011 to seek greater political rights. More than 65 people have died in the unrest, but rights groups and others place the death toll higher.

The snub by the Shiite groups closes one of the main channels for dialogue and could sharply escalate tensions in the strategic kingdom, home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet. A government statement quoted Nayef Yousif, head of Bahrain’s public prosecution, as saying al-Marzooq is accused of instigating violence and having links to a protest faction that authorities blame for bombings and other attacks. Al-Marzooq, who was detained Tuesday, was ordered held for 30 days during the investigation.

Al-Marzooq is a top member of Al Wefaq, the main political bloc of Bahrain’s Shiite majority. In Washington, State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said Wednesday that the U.S. would raise the issue with Bahraini authorities as part of its discussion of recent political events in Bahrain.

“We are disappointed that opposition groups have suspended their involvement. I think it’s an important forum. We would hope that everybody would be part of that process,” Harf said. Also Wednesday, Bahrain’s public security chief, Maj. Gen. Tariq Hassan al-Hassan, said a policeman died of injuries suffered in a bomb blast last month.

Tue Oct 4, 2011

Anti-government protesters continue to cause huge traffic jams on the streets of Bahrain’s capital, Manama, in a protest campaign against the repressive policies of the Al Khalifa regime, Press TV reports.

As part of the protest campaign, which is dubbed “Manama Storm,” protesters have created massive traffic jams in Manama, according to Press TV sources.

The campaign continues in defiance of an Interior Ministry’s warning in late September that warned the protesters of losing their driver’s licenses for up to one year if they deliberately created traffic jams.

Meanwhile, a Bahraini court handed out three-month jail terms to two people on Tuesday and fined each USD 265 for blocking traffic.

This comes following Monday rulings of a Bahraini military court which sentenced 14 protesters to life imprisonment and handed long jail terms of up to 18 years to 22 others.

The military court, however, rejected pleas by attorneys of those sentenced for an independent probe into the reported torture of defendants.

Earlier on Thursday, the Bahraini court also sentenced 20 medical workers to jail terms of between five and 15 years for treating injured anti-government protesters.

Since mid-February, thousands of anti-government protesters have been staging regular demonstrations in the streets of Bahrain, calling on the US-backed Al Khalifa royal family to relinquish power.

On March 14, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates invaded the country to assist Bahraini rulers in their brutal crackdown on peaceful anti-government protesters.

According to local sources, scores of people have been killed and hundreds arrested in the regime crackdown.

Source: PressTV.

Link: http://www.presstv.com/detail/202693.html.

Sept. 29, 2011

MANAMA, Bahrain, Sept. 29 (UPI) — A military prosecutor in Bahrain announced charges against 20 healthcare workers for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government.

The group of Bahraini doctors and nurses were given sentences ranging from 5-15 years in prison on charges of “spreading fabricating stories and lies” and gaining access to “unlicensed weapons to topple the regime,” the official Bahrain News Agency stated.

All of those sentenced to prison had worked at the Salmaniya medical complex in Manama. Bahraini security forces raided the facility in March as part of a crackdown on a Shiite uprising in the country.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay described the March 16 seizure by security forces of the hospital as “shocking and illegal conduct.”

Human Rights Watch in a 54-page report published early this year said it had documented “serious government abuses” against medics and patients wounded during opposition protests.

In a separate case, BNA said Ali Yusuf Abdulwahab al-Taweel was sentenced to death and Mehdi Ali Attia was given a life-in-prison sentence for their role in the death of a Bahraini police officer.

Human Rights Watch said Washington was sending the wrong message when it authorized a $53 million arms sale to Bahrain. Bahrain was criticized for its response to the uprising.

Bahrain is host to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.

Source: United Press International (UPI).

Link: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Special/2011/09/29/Health-workers-given-jail-terms-in-Bahrain/UPI-39851317315622/.

Mon Sep 26, 2011

Fresh anti-regime protests have been held in several villages in Bahrain despite the country’s heavy-handed crackdown on people, Press TV reports.

Bahraini regime forces clashed with the protesters in several villages including Dair, Sitra, Nuwaidarat and Muqaba on Sunday night.

Witnesses said on Monday that protesters also created massive traffic jams in the capital Manama, ignoring threats of confiscating driver’s licenses and barring protesters from driving for up to four years.

Hundreds of Bahrainis flooded the roads with their cars during the morning commute on Monday.

The Bahraini opposition had organized the gathering, which was named the “the Second Dignity Blockade.”

Meanwhile, Bahraini clerics have condemned the massive arrests and the disrespectful treatment of Bahraini women by regime forces over the past few days.

The protests intensified after the opposition boycotted last week’s parliamentary elections. Less than one in five Bahrainis reportedly participated in the country’s by-elections.

The Al Khalifa regime held the polls to fill 18 seats abandoned by members of the largest opposition party, al-Wefaq.

Al-Wefaq said that the 40-member parliament has lost its legitimacy and that it does not represent the will of the Bahraini people.

Bahrainis have been holding anti-government rallies since mid-February, demanding an end to the Al Khalifa dynasty.

Source: PressTV.
Link: http://www.presstv.com/detail/201217.html.