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

    Saudi Arabia’s New Female Politicians in the Other Room 

    Many in Saudi Arabia say elected representatives should share unsegregated spaces; according to a recent survey, more than half the Saudi population, both men and women, prefer to work in a segregated place

    Russia Not ‘Apologetic’ for Syria Airstrikes

    With Moscow criticized for targeting armed opponents of President Assad, Russia’s UN envoy says his country ‘acting in a very transparent manner’

    Pakistan Warns of Islamic State's Growing Reach

    Aftab Sultan, General Director General of Intelligence Bureau (IB), briefed Senate Committee in closed hearing, saying that IS-linked groups have been expanding in Pakistan

    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.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.