Category: The Two Seas Island of Parion


January 15, 2014

MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — The future king of Bahrain met with top Shiite opposition leaders on Wednesday for the first time in nearly three years, the last time being shortly after Arab Spring protests broke out in the Gulf Arab nation.

The meeting also comes just one week after reconciliation talks were suspended. Bahrain’s state television broadcast images of Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa meeting with members of the country’s Shiite opposition, including its main al-Wefaq bloc.

Al -Wefaq and four other opposition groups released a joint statement after the face-to-face with the crown prince saying that they hoped the meeting would result in concrete steps. “The opposition believes any positive outcomes from this meeting will depend on the coming steps toward real power sharing,” it said.

The opposition groups said the meeting, which took place at the crown prince’s palace upon his invitation, focused on parameters for reconciliation talks that aim to produce “a new political agreement” for a permanent solution leading to “equality and transition to a democratic monarchy.”

The tiny island nation of Bahrain, which is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, is ruled by a Sunni monarchy. The country’s majority Shiites began protesting in early 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.

The two sides have not held high-level talks since neighboring Gulf countries, led by Saudi Arabia, sent troops to Bahrain to help quell the Shiite-led uprising. 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. The most recent reconciliation talks were suspended after the head of al-Wefaq was banned from traveling abroad, forcing the government to call off the dialogue.

The government released a statement to journalists saying the meeting explored means of overcoming the challenges faced by attempts at dialogue recently. It said participants agreed to embark on a new phase of dialogue.

Al-Wefaq spokesman Abdul Jalil Khalil, who also attended Wednesday’s talks with the crown prince, told The Associated Press that his group was very direct and clear with their demands in the meeting. “We said Bahrain needs complete citizenship, meaning full rights… political and civil rights,” he said, adding that they also want a member of the ruling family to take part in reconciliation talks and not just government officials.

“It is not clear until now how far the government is willing to go with the opposition, but today’s meeting is considered a positive step,” Khalil said.

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November 03, 2013

MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — The head of Bahrain’s main opposition group was charged Sunday with insulting authorities through an exhibition that showed alleged abuses against anti-government protesters, a lawyer said, in a move that could sharply raise tensions in the violence-wracked Gulf nation.

The charges against Ali Salman, the head of the Shiite bloc Al Wefaq, came just hours after a court sentenced four suspects to life in prison for alleged ties to Shiite militant factions and acting as spies for Iran. Bahrain accuses Iran of aiding the 32-month uprising by the kingdom’s majority Shiites against the ruling Sunni dynasty.

Iran denies the accusations and no firm evidence has been produced. But the claims by Bahrain’s Western-backed leading have been echoed by other Gulf Arab nations that fear Iran seeks to destabilize their networks of ruling clans.

More than 65 people have been killed in Bahrain’s Arab Spring-inspired protests seeking a greater political voice for Shiites on the strategic island nation, which is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet. Some rights groups place the overall death toll higher.

It’s unclear whether Salman will face trial, which could touch off wider clashes. Prosecutors have the option of not bringing the case to court. Al Wefaq’s lawyer Abdullah al-Shamlawi said Salman was not jailed after being charged and was allowed to return home following questioning. Across the Gulf, courts have issued prison terms as long as 15 years for perceived insults against rulers on social media or other forums.

Riot police last week raided the museum-style hall opened by Al Wefaq that included depictions of alleged torture and attacks against protesters since the uprising began in February 2011. Authorities said the displays incited “hatred” even though most of the scenes had been reported in international media or in a government-backed report on the unrest in late 2011.

Earlier Sunday, a criminal court issued life sentences against four Shiite activists and 15-year prison terms against six others who were charged with links to Iranian intelligence agencies and plotting attacks in Bahrain, lawyer Zainab Zwayed said. Fourteen defendants were cleared.

October 23, 2013

MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — The funeral for a 17-year-old boy in Bahrain who authorities said died while carrying explosives descended into chaos Wednesday as mourners clashed with police in the troubled Gulf kingdom.

Plumes of tear gas rose over the cemetery where mourners buried Ali al-Sabagh, who authorities said died Tuesday night after an explosion about 10 kilometers (six miles) west of the capital, Manama. Hundreds of anti-government protesters and mourners faced off with police, as an Associated Press reporter saw some set fire to tires in the street and others throw gasoline bombs. Police responded with tear gas and stun grenades, as officers closed the main highway into the city because of the fighting.

The official Bahrain News Agency said Wednesday that officers found a gun and ammunition near al-Sabagh’s body. Authorities said he was wanted in connection with previous attacks. Bahrain, a Sunni-ruled nation, has been locked in nonstop unrest since an uprising by the country’s Shiite majority began in early 2011. Bahrain has expanded crackdowns on so-called “terrorist” cells suspected of bombings targeting security forces and others in the strategic kingdom, home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.

As the protests raged, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa addressed the new session of parliament, saying he appreciated its “stance against terrorism, extremism and their instigators, as well as your refusal of any foreign intervention in the internal affairs of Bahrain.”

“Reform, development and achieving a better life for everyone in this country should remain our constant and paramount goal,” he said. “Never losing sight of it, no matter the circumstances.”

October 07, 2013

MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — Bahrain says nine people have been sentenced to life in prison after trial on charges of bomb-making in the restive Gulf nation.

Monday’s verdicts mark the latest in a series of recent court decisions that have raised tensions in the strategic kingdom, home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet. Sunni-ruled Bahrain has been locked in unrest since early 2011, when majority Shiites started an uprising for greater political rights.

The official Bahrain News Agency says life sentences and fines were handed down to four suspects in custody and five in absentia. The charges also include attempts to target police with attacks. Violence has risen in Bahrain with recent bombings. Last week, Bahrain set an Oct. 24 trial date for a prominent Shiite political figure, Khalil al-Marzooq, on “terrorism” charges.

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/.

Wed Sep 28, 2011

The Saudi-backed Bahraini regime admits that its security forces are still holding 20 women in detention for holding a protest against the Al Khalifa monarchy in Manama, Press TV reports.

Those still in the regime’s detention are among the 45 females, who came under arrest in the capital on Saturday for chanting slogans against the ruling regime in a shopping mall.

The protest had been formed against recent controversial parliamentary by-elections, which, according to Bahraini government’s own website, were shunned by over 80 percent of the legitimate voters.

Amnesty International on Monday said the females — who included seven minors — had been tortured and denied legal representation.

“They were apprehended without arrest orders, interrogated without lawyers present and some of them reportedly tortured or otherwise ill-treated,” the group said.

Meanwhile, Bahrain’s Military Prosecutor-General Yussef Fleilfal announced on Monday that the sheikhdom’s military court had sentenced another 32 people to 15 years in prison for participating in pro-democracy demonstrations earlier this year.

Bahrainis have been holding peaceful anti-government rallies since mid-February, demanding an end to the Al Khalifa’s over-40-year-long rule over the Persian Gulf island.

Scores of people have been killed and hundreds more arrested in a brutal Manama-ordered and Riyadh-backed crackdown in the country, which hosts a huge American military installation for the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet in the Persian Gulf.

Source: PressTV.
Link: http://www.presstv.com/detail/201552.html.

Tue Sep 27, 2011

The Bahrain regime has sentenced 32 women and girls, who were arrested for protesting against the recent parliamentary by-elections in the Persian Gulf kingdom, to 15 years in jail.

These Bahraini protesters, including seven minors aged between 12 and 15, were arrested on Friday, one day before the by-elections — boycotted by the opposition — to replace 18 lawmakers who resigned from the parliament in protest to the crackdown on anti-government demonstrators.

According to Amnesty International (AI) the women were tortured in detention and they have been denied access to their lawyers and families.

AI says the girls remain in custody despite a Bahraini juvenile court order for their release.

On Monday, Bahrain’s Military Prosecutor-General Yussef Fleilfal announced that the kingdom’s military court had sentenced another 32 people to 15 years in prison for taking part in anti-government protests earlier this year.

Bahrainis have been holding anti-government rallies since mid-February, demanding an end to the Al Khalifa dynasty’s 40-year rule.

Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of others have been arrested in a brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters in Bahrain, which is home to a huge American military installation for the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet in the Persian Gulf.

Source: PressTV.
Link: http://www.presstv.com/detail/201431.html.