News / Middle East

Bahrain's King Orders Release of Political Prisoners

Pro-government supporters rally in Bahrain following a week of opposition protests
Pro-government supporters rally in Bahrain following a week of opposition protests

Bahraini state media say King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa has ordered the release of a group of political prisoners, in a gesture to opposition activists who have staged more than a week of anti-government protests.

Bahraini media did not name the prisoners to be freed.  Most political detainees are from the Shi'ite majority of the Gulf island state, which is ruled by a minority Sunni dynasty.  The prisoners include 23 Shi'ite activists on trial in Bahrain for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government.

An exiled Shi'ite activist on trial in absentia for the same offense says he will return to Bahrain from London Tuesday, giving a boost to opposition demands for democratic reforms and the ouster of the ruling al-Khalifa family.  Hassan Mashaima, a leader of the Haq movement, says he does not know if Bahraini authorities will arrest him on arrival.

Thousands of anti-government protesters slept early Tuesday in Manama's Pearl Square, the focal point of their week-long uprising inspired by similar revolts that toppled autocratic leaders in Egypt and Tunisia in recent weeks.

The activists have occupied the square since Saturday, reviving an encampment they had created days earlier, but which Bahraini security forces destroyed last Thursday in a deadly pre-dawn raid.

In a rival rally, thousands of government supporters gathered at a Manama mosque Monday, waving Bahraini flags and pledging allegiance to the nation's Sunni rulers, while urging them to release prisoners of conscience.

Bahrain's government withdrew troops from the streets Saturday, in response to international criticism of its crackdown on the opposition.  The violence has killed seven opposition activists and wounded hundreds of others in recent days.

In a blow to Bahrain's economy, Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa said Sunday the government has canceled the season-opening Formula One Grand Prix due to the political unrest.  The race had been scheduled for March 13.  Crown Prince Salman said Bahrain's entire attention is focussed on building a new national dialogue.

King Hamad has named the crown prince to lead a dialogue with the opposition, but opposition parties and protesters have yet to accept the proposal.  They are demanding the resignation of the government and democratic reforms to strip the Sunni monarchy of its powers and end what they say is long-running discrimination against majority Shi'ites.

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

You May Like

China Announces Corruption Probe into Senior Ex-Leader

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, being probed for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid