News / Middle East

Bahrain Defends Crackdown on Anti-Government Protesters

A Bahraini anti-government demonstrator lies injured on a stretcher as Bahraini anti-government demonstrators take him to hospital in Manama, Bahrain, early Thursday morning, Feb. 17, 2011
A Bahraini anti-government demonstrator lies injured on a stretcher as Bahraini anti-government demonstrators take him to hospital in Manama, Bahrain, early Thursday morning, Feb. 17, 2011

Bahrain's foreign minister has defended a security force crackdown on anti-government demonstrators who had camped out in a main square in the capital.

In a Thursday press briefing, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Khalifa said the protest in Manama's Pearl Square was a rebellion against the government and the nation.  He added  that security forces asked the demonstrators to leave before they moved into the square in a pre-dawn raid on Thursday.

Western news reports quote the country's health minister as saying three people were killed and 231 wounded in the police operation to clear square.  There are reports that many protesters are missing.

International concern

In a Thursday news conference, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the reports from Bahrain were "deeply troubling."  He said violence should not be used on peaceful demonstrators.  

Meanwhile, U.S. officials say Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the foreign minister and expressed "deep concern" about the crackdown.   Also, the Pentagon says U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates phoned Bahrain's Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa Thursday to discuss the country's security situation.

Earlier this week, protesters demanding sweeping political change had set up camp in Pearl Square.  On Thursday, security forces firing tear gas, percussion grenades and rubber bullets moved into the square before dawn against the mostly Shi'ite demonstrators.  

Opposition demands

Meanwhile, news reports quote Ali Salman leader of al-Wefaq, the country's leading Shi'ite opposition group, as saying opposition groups are demanding the government's resignation.  Earlier Thursday, al-Wefaq lawmakers said they plan to quit parliament in protest.  The group's 18 deputies in the 40-member legislature had already vowed not to return to parliament until King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa agreed to transform the nation into a constitutional democracy with an elected government.

On Wednesday, security forces stayed back as tens of thousands of Bahrainis gathered, dramatically expanding the protests. By nightfall, a massive, jubilant crowd had swelled in Pearl Square. Earlier, hundreds had joined a procession to mourn one of two demonstrators killed since Monday.

The Khalifa family, which has ruled Bahrain since the 18th century, is Sunni Muslim and has long had tense relations with the country's Shi'ite majority, about 70 percent of the population.

In 2001, voters overwhelmingly approved a national charter to lead the way toward democratic changes. But a year later, the king imposed a constitution by decree that Shi'ite leaders say has diluted the rights in the charter and blocked them from achieving a majority in the parliament.

Bahrain is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet and also is a regional offshore banking center.

NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

Nigerians Await New President With High Hopes

When pomp and circumstance of inauguration end in Abuja, Buhari will sit down to the hard task of governing Nigeria More

India's Restrictions on Several NGOs Raise Concerns

Political analysts link recent clampdown on advocacy groups to report last year that said foreign-funded NGO’s negatively impact economic development More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs