Martial Law Lifted in Bahrain But Protests Continue

Today King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa lifted the martial law that had been imposed on Bahrain for the past 11 weeks. Tanks and troops withdrew from the streets of the capital of Manama but,  Al-Jazeera reports, “numerous police checkpoints” are still in place around the city,” including around the Pearl Roundabout. 

In the early days of the demonstrations, protesters had likened the roundabout to Tahrir Square in Egypt. Then, on March 18, the government demolished it following the imposition of martial law on March 15 and has since renamed it Farouq Junction, ” a reference to an early Islamic leader who Shi’ites consider was against their cause” says the New York Times.

While the Bahraini government has hopes that ending the state of emergency will lead to a sense that “things are normal” — and to a rise in tourism and business including getting back a Formula One prix that was cancelled in March — the Gulf island kingdom has a very long way to go in regard to human rights and in taking the pro-democratic demands of its people into consideration. 

Reports about Bahraini human rights activists have detailed their imprisonment and torture. Protesters have been jailed and put on military trials that resulted in death sentences for some and long sentences for others. Doctors and nurses who had tended to Bahrainis injured when security forces cracked down on the demonstrators were also arrested and could face charges of treason, which carries a death sentence. 

 

As the New York Times reports, the end of martial law means that “military prosecutors can no longer call in civilians but military courts will still hear several cases” that began since the law was imposed on March 15.  At least 30 people were killed in the protests that began in February with calls for pro-democratic reforms including more rights. It is not known precisely how many people have been detained.

After martial law was imposed, Bahrain — which hosts the US Navy’s 5th Fleet — requested 1500 troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to put down the unrest.

 

As the Guardian says, the monarchy is seeking to “restore its image” by doing so:

King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa this week made a fresh bid for a national dialogue aimed at bringing the Sunni establishment and the Shia majority population together. However, rights groups say 21 opposition activists arrested under emergency laws remain detained. Numerous Shiite mosques have been destroyed during security sweeps and four people have died while in custody. The violence claimed at least 24 lives, including four security officers.

At issue throughout the 11-week crisis has been the insistence of Shiite demonstrators, who account for roughly 70% of Bahrain’s population, that they are disenfranchised by a regime that is deeply suspicious of their loyalties.

The Bahraini government “played the sectarian card very early,” as one western analyst noted, with government security forces pointing the finger at Iran, Bahrain’s neighbor, “attempting to export its Shia Islamic revolution through proxies in Bahrain.” The Bahraini government has indeed insisted that the protests were an “Iranian plot.”

Bahrainis attempted to protest in a number of villages today, says Al-Jazeera, but security forces were in heavy supply. Tear gas and batons were used to disperse about 30 women who gathered in front of an activist’s house in Bani Jamrah. As Ali Zirazdi, a resident of the predominantly Shia village of Diraz, said, “With the end of the emergency situation, the security would not be here but they still are.”

 

 

Take Action: Sign the petition to call for the release of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and other peaceful protestors!

Take Action: Sign the petition to release Bahraini doctors and nurses.

 

 

 

Previous Care2 Coverage

20-Year Prison Sentences for Nine Bahraini Protesters

Bahrain State of Emergency Will Be Lifted June 1

4 Bahraini Protesters Sentenced to Death

Bahraini Activist Says He Was Threatened With Rape While Detained

Bahrain State Of Emergency Will Be Lifted June 1

Bahraini Doctors and Nurses Charged With the Equivalent of Treason

 

 

 

Photo of the Pearl Roundabout -- where Bahraini protesters assembled after the uprising in Egypt and which was demolished on March 18 by the government -- by Harold Laudeus.

12 comments

Parvez Z.
Parvez Zuberi8 years ago

Signed thanks for info these dictators have support of the so called super power because their interest are involved in that country that's why they used one of their stooges govt to crush the up rising by sending the troops into that country .

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Michael M.
Michael M8 years ago

When the police and security forces who support the Dictator (or King or whatever he calls himself ) get off duty follow them home punish them or detain them covertly and burn their houses down. I won't take long before this Dictator has no support. It would be completely justifiable as long as they take orders from a dictator. Their excuse that they are just doing their job and following orders doesn't cut it.

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Marilyn L.
Marilyn L8 years ago

Thanks for th information. Signed both petitions.

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Dumitru Z.
Dumitru Z.8 years ago

Signed here and in Avaaz due to Red Bull's F1 team request. Hope to count.

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Lori E.
Lori E8 years ago

Signed

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Roel B.
Roel B.8 years ago

sign the petition at Avaaz.org protesting against the formule 1 race to be held in Bahrein.

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Bernadette P.
berny p8 years ago

courageous people but they will never win ...very sad!

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Sue Matheson
Sue Matheson8 years ago

thanks for the information.

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Zee Kallah
.8 years ago

Desperation animates courage.

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