News / Middle East

Thousands of Opposition Protesters Rally in Bahrain

Carla Babb
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.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs