Clashes mark an­niver­sary of Bahrain’s 2011 up­ris­ing

Iran Daily - - International -

Bahrain’s se­cu­rity forces clashed with pro­test­ers mark­ing the sev­enth an­niver­sary of the Fe­bru­ary 14 up­ris­ing. Po­lice re­port­edly fired tear gas and live am­mu­ni­tion at the demon­stra­tors on Wed­nes­day, but the num­ber of ca­su­al­ties is un­clear, Saeed al-she­habi, leader of Bahrain Free­dom Move­ment, told Al Jazeera.

She­habi said protests have been re­ported on Tues­day evening and Wed­nes­day morn­ing in at least five neigh­bor­hoods, mostly out­side of the cap­i­tal Manama, in­clud­ing in Di­raz, Si­tra and Huwaidrat.

“The sit­u­a­tion is as tense as ever, and the crack­down is also se­vere,” the Ukbased ac­tivist said.

Hus­sain Radhi of Bahrain Cen­ter for Hu­man Rights said that clashes also took place in the dis­tricts of Abu Saiba, Al­daih, Mameer, Aleker and Bi­lad Al Qadeem. There was no in­for­ma­tion about in­juries.

Im­ages posted on so­cial me­dia showed se­cu­rity forces in full gear stand­ing next to sev­eral po­lice cars.

Pic­tures also showed masked pro­test­ers hurl­ing rocks at po­lice as they walked through a street en­gulfed in tear gas.

In a video clip posted on Twit­ter by the Lon­don-based Bahraini tele­vi­sion chan­nel Lualua, se­cu­rity forces were seen fir­ing tear gas as they en­gaged in a run­ning bat­tle with pro­test­ers.

Dozens of ac­tivists have been rounded up and de­tained, ac­cord­ing to She­habi of Bahrain Free­dom Move­ment

De­mands for gov­ern­ment re­form

In Jan­uary, a Bahraini court also af­firmed a two-year jail sen­tence against protest leader Nabeel Ra­jab.

She­habi, how­ever, said he was sur­prised that peo­ple have con­tin­ued to protest.

“Day in and day out, there have been protests and demon­stra­tions,” he said.

De­spite the threat of im­pris­on­ment of up to five years for “spread­ing false news,” She­habi also said that peo­ple have been post­ing im­ages on so­cial me­dia show­ing the on­go­ing protests.

For years, ten­sions have been run­ning high in the king­dom over a heavy-handed crack­down by the regime.

Start­ing in 2011, protests erupted across the coun­try, forc­ing neigh­bor­ing Saudi Ara­bia to in­ter­vene on be­half of Bahraini rulers.

Au­thor­i­ties have re­fused to lis­ten to op­po­si­tion de­mands for re­forms, in­clud­ing the es­tab­lish­ment of a “real” con­sti­tu­tional monar­chy with an elected prime min­is­ter in­de­pen­dent of the rul­ing royal fam­ily.

In re­sponse, au­thor­i­ties or­dered the im­pris­on­ment of thou­sands of ac­tivists and stripped Shia spir­i­tual leader Isa Qas­sim of his na­tion­al­ity.

Saudi Ara­bia has ac­cused Iran of en­cour­ag­ing its Shia pop­u­la­tion to rise against Bahrain’s Sunni rulers, al­le­ga­tions that Tehran has de­nied.

Mean­while, the Per­sian Gulf Cen­ter for Hu­man Rights called on the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity on Wed­nes­day to “ap­ply se­ri­ous pres­sure” on Bahrain to re­lease jour­nal­ists and hu­man rights ac­tivists, some of whom are fac­ing life­time jail terms.

Pro­test­ers bat­tle with po­lice in the district of Mameer, south of the cap­i­tal Manama, on Feb. 14, 2018. AL JAZEERA

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