By Carolyn Abdenour
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East
MANAMA, Bahrain – On Monday, 8 November, security forces shot rubber bullets and fired tear gas at hundreds of anti-government protesters at Pearl Square in Manama, the nation’s capital. The protesters advocated for equal rights for the Sunni and Shiite populations. Although a majority of the population is Shia, the government is Sunni-led. No protesters sustained injuries during the police action. On Tuesday, Bahraini pilgrims demonstrated in Mecca to demand the fall of the Al Khalifa regime in support of Monday’s protests.
Also on Monday, Sheikh Eissa Qasim, Bahrain’s top religious leader, asked Bahrainis to maintain their peaceful revolution after he identified the ruling monarchy’s treatment of anti-government demonstrations as a brutal crackdown. He criticized the government for their alleged torture of detained female protesters.
The Arab Spring inspired the anti-government protests in Bahrain. Since the protests began in mid-February, thousands of people protested. Over thirty people have died and several more have sustained injuries. The government detained and tried hundreds of protesters for anti-state crimes.
On Sunday, people gathered after a massive funeral procession for Ali al-Daihee, the father of the vice president of al-Wefaq – Bahrain’s leading opposition group. Opposition groups assert al-Daihee died after the police beat the 70-year-old man during a protest in the village of Daih on Wednesday. However, the authorities state he died of natural causes. Activists claim al-Daihee is the 45th person the authorities have killed during an uprising against the monarchy. During the funeral procession in Diah, Saudi-backed Bahraini regime forces attacked the mourners.
The government also released Zulfiqur Naji, a teenage Iraqi soccer player, after seven months of detention on Sunday. The government detained him under the suspicion of participating in anti-government protests. Countries such as Iraq and Canada called for Naji’s release. Naji was one of over 300 prisoners freed after King Hamad bin Isa Al Kahalifa granted a prisoner pardon in honor of Eid al-Adha.
Qasim previously warned the people’s determination to fight for the rights will strengthen after the government harshly cracked down on anti-government protesters. He added that the government’s refusal to implement demanded changes failed to quiet Bahrainis.
In June, Qasim stated, “We have offered so many sacrifices and cannot back down and end up empty handed. The reactions of the security forces result in damaging the country, but the people are patient and peaceful.”
For more information, please see:
The Australian – Forces Fire on Bahraini Shia Marches – 8 November 2011
Bikya Masr – Bahrain Top Sheikh Condemns Government Violence – 8 November 2011
Press TV – Bahraini Pilgrims Hold Anti-Regime Demo – 8 November 2011
The Voice of Russia – Bahrain’s Police Breaks Up Anti-Governmental Rally – 6 November 2011