News / Middle East

Tensions Rise Ahead of Bahrain Elections

Riot police fire tear gas Friday, Sept. 16, 2011, in Sitra, Bahrain.
Riot police fire tear gas Friday, Sept. 16, 2011, in Sitra, Bahrain.

Tensions are mounting in Bahrain ahead of planned parliamentary elections next week, with opposition supporters vowing to hold a mass demonstration in the capital, Manama.

Next Saturday’s poll will fill 18 seats abandoned by members of the main opposition al-Wefaq party, who quit in February over the government’s bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators.

Mattar Mattar, one of the legislators who resigned, says the decision to replace all of the opposition parliamentarians is proof that the nation’s leaders are neglecting the grievances of the people. "They are trying to ignore us, but this plan will not succeed. They are going on the wrong track. Without opening a real dialogue and without going for real political reform it’s difficult to reach stability here," he said.

Bahrain's political opposition comprises, in large part, the nation’s majority Shi’ite Muslims, who say they are treated like second-class citizens by the ruling Sunni minority. They have been calling for more rights and for the introduction of a constitutional monarchy.

Some hardliners in the opposition have been demanding the abolition of the monarchy, and as unrest continues, their numbers are growing.

Clashes between security forces and anti-government protesters take place nearly every night in Shi’ite neighborhoods.

According to rights groups, about 40 people have been killed and more than a thousand detained since February. The government has defended the crackdown, saying it is needed to reinstate stability.

On Friday, tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades were used to disperse tens of thousands of mourners at a funeral in Sitra, south of Manama.

The grief stricken shouted anti-government slogans. Relatives of the deceased say the man died earlier in the week after inhaling teargas shot into the home of his parents.

Saeed Alawi was among the crowd. “All these people are coming to express that we refuse and reject all this crime against humans. That’s why they are insisting to send a message to the government that the political issue cannot be solved by the security [forces]," he said.

Forty-seven-year-old Salman Ahmed was caught up in the tear gas and had to take refuge in a stranger’s home. "We are peaceful. We are not killing anybody. And we want to save our lives," he said.

Most analysts, like Nabeel Rajab, the president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, say the use of force by authorities is only strengthening the resolve of many opposition supporters to continue protesting. He says stability will only be achieved when the government and the opposition engage in meaningful dialogue.

"This is what every day Bahrainis have to witness and have to see. And this is what is not going to make the situation be better and this is, for sure, not going to make Bahrainis quiet," he said.

In July, the government opened a national dialogue in a bid to ease months of fighting and restore confidence in the kingdom’s commitment to work out its troubles. However, the opposition al-Wefaq party quickly quit the talks, saying their demands had been ignored.

Youth groups have utilized social media to attract support for a number of demonstrations in the lead up to next week’s elections, including a protest at the Pearl Roundabout site in Manama that has become symbolic with Bahrain’s opposition movement.

You May Like

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults 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.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid