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

Report: $60 Billion Leaves Africa Illegally Each Year

Report by joint UN and African Union panel says African countries need to take concrete measures to stop illegal money flow from continent each year More

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Some analysts say Russian Tu-95 bombers were flying near British airspace to warn Britain about an inquest into a murdered Russian spy More

Mugabe Defends Image Amid Controversy at Close of AU Summit

He rejects concerns about how the West might perceive his leadership, saying he's focused on African development 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.
Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relationsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
January 31, 2015 10:50 PM
Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Neighborhood Divided Over Conflict

People in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk districts find themselves squarely in the path of advancing Russian-backed rebels, who want to take back the territory they held at the beginning of the conflict last year. Many local residents are afraid, but others would welcome the change, even when a rebel shell lands in their neighborhood. From the Luhansk district, 15 kilometers from where the Ukrainian government marks the front line, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid