Δευτέρα, 14 Φεβρουαρίου 2011

Bahrain opposition calls for rally


Riot police clashed with a small group of youths who staged a march in Karzakan, a Shia village in the west [EPA]


At least one person has reportedly been killed and several others injured after riot police in Bahrain opened fire at protesters holding a funeral service for a man killed during protests in the kingdom a day earlier.  Fadhel Ali Almatrook was hit with bird-shotgun in the capital, Manama, on Tuesday morning, Maryam Alkhawaja, head of foreign relations at the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, told Al Jazeera. "This morning the protesters were walking from the hospital to the cemetery and they got attacked by the riot police," Alkhawaja said. "Thousands of people are marching in the streets, demanding the removal of the regime - police fired tear gas and bird shot, using excessive force - that is why people got hurt."
Monday's rage
The incident comes a day after demonstrators observed a 'Day of Rage', apparently after being inspired by the recent uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia. Shias accounting for 70 per cent of Bahrain's population have often alleged discrimination at the hands of the kingdom's Sunni rulers.Thousands came out on the streets on Monday to protest, sparking clashes with riot police.Khalid Al-Marzook, a Bahraini member of parliament, told Al Jazeera that one person had been killed and that three others were in critical condition in hospital following Monday's violence.Bahrain's news agency said that the country's interior minister had ordered an investigation into Monday's death.Lieutenant-General Shaikh Rashid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa has also offered his condolences to the dead man's family.

Online reaction
Amira Al Hussaini, a Bahraini blogger that monitors citizen media for Global Voices Online, told Al Jazeera that there had been a huge shift in Bahrain web traffic.


opposition calls for rally

Bahrain's security forces have set up checkpoints to monitor people's movements as opposition groups blanketed social media sites with calls to stage the first major anti-government protests in the Gulf since the uprising in Egypt.
Units patrolled shopping centres and other key spots in a clear warning against holding Monday's rally, which has been the focus of social media appeals and text messages for more than a week.
One cartoon posted on a Bahraini blog showed three arms holding aloft a mobile phone and the symbols of Facebook and Twitter.
The decision by Shia-led opposition groups and others to call for demonstrations on February 14 is symbolic as it is the anniversary of Bahrain's 2002 constitution, which brought some pro-democracy reforms such as an elected parliament.
A Facebook page calling for a revolution in Bahrain on Monday has nearly 14,000 followers, and an emailed schedule of protests and demonstrations is also being circulated.
The developments came as riot police clashed with a small group of youths who staged a march following a wedding ceremony in Karzakan, a Shia village in the west.

An AP photographer said he had seen several people injured and others gasping from tear gas.
Shia discontent
Sunday's wide-ranging clampdown appeared directed toward Bahrain's Shia majority, which has led the drive for Monday's rallies.

Bahrain's Sunni rulers have already given out cash and promised greater media reforms in an effort to quell discontent.
In an open letter to the king, the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights has called for wide-ranging reforms to avoid a "worst-case scenario", including the dismantling of the security forces, the prosecution of state officials for abuses and the release of 450 jailed activists, religious leaders and others.
The tiny kingdom is among the most politically volatile in the Gulf and holds important strategic value for the West as the home to the US Navy's 5th Fleet.
Bahrain's Shias , which account for nearly 70 per cent of the total popualtion, have long complained of systematic discrimination by the ruling Sunni dynasty, whose crackdown on dissent last year touched off riots and clashes.
Concessions
Bahrain's leaders have stepped in with some concessions to try to defuse tension.
Government media monitors began talks on Sunday with newspaper publishers and others to draft new rules to limit state controls.
The official Bahrain News Agency has also launched a new multimedia service that includes social media applications to seek more outreach.
Activists and rights groups have often had to contend with widespread blocks on websites and blogs.
On Friday, hundreds of Bahrainis and Egyptian nationals went out in the streets chanting and dancing near the Egyptian Embassy in Manama moments after Hosni Mubarak stepped down as Egypt's president.

Bahraini authorities quickly set up roadblocks to contain the crowds.
The chances for confrontation in Bahrain have been further elevated by the ongoing trial of 25 Shia activists - including two charged in absentia - accused of plotting against the state.
The detainees have alleged police torture and being made to sign forced confessions, but the court has moved ahead with the proceedings. The next session is scheduled for February 24.

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