News / Middle East

    Thousands of Opposition Protesters Rally in Bahrain

    Thousands of opposition supporters held demonstrations Friday in Bahrain's capital, leading to clashes for a second day.

    Anti-government protesters jammed a major highway [Boudaya] that links several Shi'ite-populated areas to the capital, Manama, to mark the second anniversary of an uprising against the country's Sunni rulers.

    While the march along the main highway was largely peaceful, breakaway groups clashed with riot police in nearby neighborhoods. Witnesses say demonstrators threw stones and police fired tear gas.

    Friday's demonstrations began early in the morning and lasted almost all day.

    During protests on Thursday, a teenage boy was killed by police gunfire on the outskirts of the capital. And overnight Thursday to Friday, a policeman in Manama died after being hit by a homemade explosive.

    Seeking democratic reforms

    The majority Shi'ite opposition called for the strike to mark the anniversary of the 2011 uprising amid the wave of pro-democracy movements in other Arab countries.

    Protesters are demanding democratic reforms in Bahrain and an end to the Sunni monarchy's perceived discrimination against Shi'ites.

    Bahrain's government crushed the demonstrations in March 2011, sending security forces to clear a protest encampment in Manama and bringing in troops from neighboring Sunni-led Gulf states to restore order.

    Street battles between Bahraini security forces and Shi'ite demonstrators have continued, mostly outside of Manama. At least 55 people have been killed since the uprising began.

    Human rights issues

    Bahrain rights activist Maryam al-Khawaja said the government is punishing its people.   

    "We're still seeing cases of extrajudicial killings, excessive use of force, kidnappings, torture. All kinds of torture: physical, psychological and sexual," said al-Khawaja.

    The near-daily protests in the small Gulf state often end in violent confrontations between protesters and police.

    Mohammed al-Maskati of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights was detained without charge and fined for running a human rights organization without a government license.

    "I get death threats from anonymous people. I don't know who is this. I get calls from anonymous people saying if you continue your work we will be in danger," said al-Maskati.

    Talk of reform

    In a major escalation of the conflict, troops from neighboring Sunni-run Gulf states rolled into Bahrain in March 2011 to crush the protests. This week, Bahrain's government and the opposition held reconciliation talks for the first time in 18 months.

    Salman AlJalahma, the media attaché at Bahrain's Embassy in Washington, said the monarchy is committed to reform.

    "The mistakes are no secret. They happened. They were admitted. They were reported and they are being addressed," said AlJalahma.

    The government says dialogue - without preconditions - can end the deadlock.

    "We definitely want to get everyone to the table. And we encourage citizens to actually assist Bahrain and the government, providing a stable platform for these discussions to go on instead of provoking and aggravating a very volatile environment," said AlJalahma.

    But protesters say they need accountability first.

    "The government, with everything they're doing on the ground, it's as if they are setting up the dialogue for failure. You cannot keep shooting people in the streets and say, 'Come sit at the dialogue table,'" said al-Khawaja.

    The opposition plans more demonstrations to continue its call for change.

    • Anti-government protesters set a car on fire to create a road block to mark the second anniversary of the February 14 uprising, in Budaiya, west of Manama, Bahrain Feb. 14, 2013.
    • Anti-government protesters clash with riot police in Daih, Bahrain, Feb. 14, 2013.
    • A masked Bahraini anti-government protester walks by a wall with posters honoring those who have died in recent unrest, during clashes with riot police in Sitra, Bahrain, Feb. 13, 2013.
    • Anti-government protesters participate in a rally in Sitra, Bahrain, Feb. 13, 2013.

    Carla Babb

    Carla is VOA's Pentagon correspondent covering defense and international security issues. Her bylines include Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Korea, Japan and Egypt.

    You May Like

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.