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A Tense Bahrain Awaits Anniversary of Uprising (Video)

A Tense Bahrain Awaits Anniversary of Uprising (Video)
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February 14 will be the one-year anniversary of anti-government protests in Bahrain. The government and activists are preparing for a tense month with reports of security forces put on high alert. From February to March of last year, thousands of pro-democracy activists demonstrated, occupying the Pearl Roundabout in central Manama, the country’s capital. In March, the ruling al-Khalifa family requested aid from neighboring Saudi Arabia, which sent in troops and tanks. Security forces seized the Pearl Roundabout and many protesters and activists were arrested and imprisoned; a number of doctors, nurses and medical personnel who had treated wounded protesters in hospital were also arrested.

Martial law was lifted in June, after at least 35 people had died including four in police custody. The Pearl Roundabout was destroyed in March and those imprisoned tried in military, rather than civilian, courts. Prominent human rights activist Abdulhadi Alkhawaja was among those given a life sentence. Four others were sentenced to death and many have reported being beaten, tortured and sexually abused while imprisoned.

Continuing Protests and Police Repression

Protests have continued to occur regularly among the “underdeveloped neighborhoods” where Bahrain’s majority Shi’ite Muslim population lives; the country’s Shi’ites have long complained of economic and political marginalization. According to activists, at least 25 — some activists say at least 60 — have died in clashes with police who have continued to use teargas and birdshot and pursue protesters in security vehicles. Zainab Alkhawaja, the daughter of Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, has steadfastly continued the fight for human rights, democracy and justice in Bahrain, first with a hunger strike and, ever since, with regular updates on her Angry Arabiya Twitter feed.

Abdulhadi Alkhawaja is reportedly on the fifth day of a hunger strike and has been hospitalized due to his deteriorating health.

Protesters March to Pearl Square

Large demonstrations were held throughout the country in a “day of rage” last week.  Protesters called for changes to Bahrain’s constitution, an elected prime minister,  the release of political prisoners and an end to the use of torture. At least 25 were reported injured and one man died after suffering “severe head trauma.” Activist Nabeel Rajab marched with his wife and two children to Pearl Square as did a number of other activists including Zainab Alkhawaja, who was arrested as she made her way to the barbed wire surrounding Pearl Square as shown in this video.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights, which Rajab is the director of, reports that security forces shot at marchers with stun grenades and tear gas. Alkhawaja has been detained at Noaim Police Station and needs a lawyer. She was previously detained for five days in December.

On February 12, two US citizens, Radhika Sainath and Huwaida Arraf, who were filming police repression of a peaceful demonstation in Manama, were arrested, held for 11 hours and then deported.

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Photo of Zainab Alkhawaja being arrested on February 12, 2012, from a screenshot of a video uploaded by Manama Press via YouTube

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32 comments

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3:36PM PST on Mar 5, 2012

Noted.

8:36PM PST on Feb 14, 2012

@ J.L.A.. “May progress towards human rights and democracy emerge” Sorry, it’s going in the opposite direction everywhere, including in the US despite America’s heroic soldiers fighting all over the world to protect our freedom and democracy, or whatever you call it now. Haven’t you noticed ?



6:17PM PST on Feb 14, 2012

Thanks for the article

4:43AM PST on Feb 14, 2012

Thanks for the article.

2:20AM PST on Feb 14, 2012

Thanks for the article

10:47PM PST on Feb 13, 2012

Thanks.

8:15PM PST on Feb 13, 2012

And what about Occupy in the US?

2:34PM PST on Feb 13, 2012

thanks :/

2:27PM PST on Feb 13, 2012

It's time for a change there and I hope they finally achieve democracy and gain their freedom and human rights. Thanks Kristina.

1:55PM PST on Feb 13, 2012

And, losers. They don't even have a clue as to what they were uprising up against. Ask one, any one and they won't have a clue.

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