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August 14, 2013

Bahrain's Opposition Calls for Protests Despite Ban

by VOA News

Anti-government activists in Bahrain are calling for protests Wednesday to push for greater democracy, despite a new ban on large demonstrations in the country.

Authorities have warned they will "forcefully confront" any large gatherings.  Security was heightened in the capital, Manama, with concrete barriers and barbed wire blocking some streets.

The U.S. Embassy in Bahrain closed on Wednesday because of planned protests nearby, and warned Americans to limit their travel amid the possibility of clashes between demonstrators and security forces.

The United Nations Human Rights agency expressed concern last week after the government enacted the demonstration ban.  It urged the government to respect the rights of free expression and peaceful assembly, while calling on demonstrators to act peacefully.

Protests by the majority Shi'ite opposition in Bahrain have persisted since a 2011 uprising, which came amid the wave of pro-democracy movements in other Arab countries.

They have demanded democratic reforms and an end to what they say is the discrimination by Bahrain's Sunni rulers.

The government crushed the 2011 demonstrations by sending security forces to clear a protest encampment in Manama and bringing troops from neighboring Sunni-led Gulf nations to restore order.

At least 60 people have been killed since the unrest began.

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Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.