News / Middle East

Bahrain Locked Down as Military Tightens Grip

Bahraini army tanks take position near Pearl Square in Manama, February 17, 2011
Bahraini army tanks take position near Pearl Square in Manama, February 17, 2011

Bahrain's military took control of the capital Thursday, hours after riot police firing birdshot, rubber bullets and teargas stormed an anti-government protest camp, killing at least five people and wounding more than 230.

Demonstrators say they were not given any warning before the security forces began firing on them, however the government says a notice was sounded.

Several tanks have since been stationed around the Pearl Roundabout where the protesters had been camping.

The crackdown comes after King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa publicly expressed remorse for two men killed by riot police earlier in the week and promised a full investigation into the deaths.

Scores of injured people from Thursday’s crackdown, including women and children, were rushed to hospitals, but medics say the military prevented ambulances from reaching the scene.

This angered many people and led to another anti-government demonstration at the country's main hospital.


Related video report by Henry Ridgwell

Batool al-Alawi was one of the medical professionals who took part. "The tanks were there and they [soldiers] pointed at us to go back so, as part of the Ministry of Health we wanted to show that we were against all the violence and we want to help the injured people," she said.

The chairman of the Bahrain Transparency Society, Abdulnabi Alekry, was also at the hospital protest and said the impromptu gathering proved that many Bahrainis are determined to speak out against the government until their demands are met.

"People did not go to their homes, they are here, they have shifted to here and I think tomorrow there will be a renewal of demonstrations at different parts [of the city] and of course, tomorrow is a Friday. It is going to be a massive protest. So, I don’t think this iron fist is going to solve the problem," he said.

The protesters are mostly Shi’ite Muslims who say they are treated as second-class citizens by the country’s running Sunni minority. They are calling for more rights and for the long-serving prime minister to resign.

Since the demonstrations turned deadly, many protesters have also started chanting for the ouster of the royal family.

The vice president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Nabeel Rajab, says the situation is a cause of concern.

"I am afraid that it will push many people into violence. It is going to push people into extremism because they know their government can’t understand dialogue, can’t understand freedom of expression, can’t understand freedom of gathering in peaceful protests," Rajab said.

Eighteen members of the leading Shi’ite al-Wefaq party have quite parliament to protest the crackdown on demonstrators.

They say they will return only when the king agrees to transform the nation into a constitutional democracy with an elected government.

 

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

You May Like

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Video Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

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

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.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
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 Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
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 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 Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs