News / Middle East

Iranian Activists Plan Aid Flotilla to Bahrain

Mourners chant anti-government slogans as they carry the body of Ali Isa Saqer, 31, to be washed for burial in his village of Sehla, Bahrain, April 10, 2011, after he died in police custody in the past week
Mourners chant anti-government slogans as they carry the body of Ali Isa Saqer, 31, to be washed for burial in his village of Sehla, Bahrain, April 10, 2011, after he died in police custody in the past week

Iranian state media say Iranian activists are preparing to send a flotilla to Bahrain next week to show solidarity with what they call the "oppressed people" of the majority Shi'ite Gulf island state.

The reports quote the head of predominantly Shi'ite Iran's Islamic Revolution Supporters Society as saying the vessels will depart for Bahrain from the southern Iranian port of Bushehr on Monday.

Mehdi Eghrarian said Tuesday the flotilla will represent an act of condemnation of Bahrain's minority Sunni rulers for violently cracking down on a Shi'ite-led protest movement that began in mid-February.

Tens of thousands of Bahraini activists joined weeks of street protests demanding democratic reforms. But the ruling al-Khalifa family ordered security forces to crush the movement with the help of troops from Sunni-majority Gulf nations. Iran has criticized Bahrain and Gulf nations for their treatment of the Shi'ite Bahraini protesters.

Eghrarian says the flotilla will be named after a female Bahraini poet whom he says was "raped and killed" by Bahraini forces during the crackdown. The status of the woman, Ayat al-Ghermezi, could not be confirmed.

Bahraini King Hamad al-Khalifa has promised to lift a state of emergency on June 1 after imposing the measure in mid-March. Demonstrators want the king to introduce a constitutional monarchy that gives majority Shi'ites a fair representation in government.

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