Posts tagged ‘King Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa’


40% Of All Bahrainis Join Latest Protest

In by far the largest protest yet to hit the Kingdom of Bahrain, upwards of nearly 200,000 mainly Shi’ite Bahrainis – nearly 40% of the entire country’s population – converged in Manama’s Pearl Square seeking dramatic political concessions from the ruling monarch. Security forces made no attempt to halt the marches.

Among the key demands of protesters are that King Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa dissolve the government and agree to a transition to a true constitutional monarchy.

The al-Khalifa dynasty has ruled Bahrain for 200 years, and the family dominates a cabinet led by the king’s uncle, who has been prime minister since independence in 1971.

Unlike previous protests organized by opposition groups, Friday’s demonstration was called by religious figures, including the most revered Shi’ite cleric in Bahrain, Sheikh Issa Qassem.

“We don’t want dialogue for the sake of dialogue,” Imam Isa Qassim, a senior Shiite cleric, told worshippers. “We want a meaningful, viable and sustainable process…We seek a fundamental change to the current political process based on legitimate demands.”

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Barhain Frees More Political Prisoners

Thousands of anti-government protesters marched to Manama’s Pearl Square on Wednesday after Bahrain’s king released a number of political prisoners, an acknowledgment by the Sunni ruler of the mounting pressure being placed on him by the Shiite opposition.

The inmates included 23 Shiite activists on trial since last year for plotting against the state. The release underlined how much the the Gulf kingdom, a close ally of Washington, want to get reform talks with protest leaders under way. Their release was one of the major demands of the emboldened political movement seeking constitutional reform. A popular Bahraini blogger, Ali Abduleman, was also among those freed by the authorities.

A lawyer for the 23 activists, Mohammed al-Tajer, said that about 250 prisoners had been released so far. Most had been held as part of the crackdown launched on some Shi’ite opposition groups last August and during subsequent protests.

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Bahraini Forces Withdraw From Square

In Bahrain today, up to 80 demonstrators in Manama’s Pearl Square were injured as police fired rubber bullets and tear gas earlier today.

Thousands of protesters singing and dancing protesters streamed back into the Square today, after tanks, troops and then riot police withdrew from the traffic circle.

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Rage, Rap and Revolution

Bobby Ghosh, the author of the below analysis, which focuses on the connections of the younger generation that has just toppled two tyrants, just gave an excellent interview on the Charlie Rose show. One important point he made on the show that is not included in the article is the military’s role in each of the countries experiencing protests.

In Egypt, the Army has traditionally seen its role as the protector of the country. In other states, however, the military’s role is the protection of the regime.

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Bahrain: Army Fired At Mourners, Media – Live Fire From Street Level & Helicopter

UPDATE 19:56 GMT: Associated Press says some doctors and medics on emergency medical teams were in tears as they tended to the wounded. X-rays showed bullets still lodged inside victims.

UPDATE 18:59 GMT: Video added…caution: graphic scenes.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

UPDATE 17:46 GMT: Associated Press now reports that the injured in Bahrain total at least 50 persons.

UPDATE 16:37 GMT: Associated Press’s Hadeel Al-Shalchi via Twitter: Hundreds at the Salmaniyah hospital chanting anti-monarchy slogans

UPDATE 16:31 GMT: BBC adds details: Witnesses said the army fired weaponry and tear gas, and hospital officials said at least 25 people had been hurt.

UPDATE 16:18 GMT: BBC now also reporting that Bahraini security forces opened fire on anti-government protesters, citing witnesses.

UPDATE 16:10 GMT: New York Times, expanding on their earlier report: Government forces opened fire on hundreds of mourners marching toward Pearl Square, sending people running away in panic amid the boom of concussion grenades. But even as the people fled, at least one helicopter was spraying fire on them and a witness reported seeing mourners crumpling to the ground.

A witness said the shooters were military, not police, which might indicate a hardening of the government’s stance against those trying to stage a popular revolt.

It was not immediately clear if all the forces were using live ammunition or rubber bullets to fire at the crowd, mostly young men who had been part of a funeral procession for protesters killed in an earlier crackdown by police.

Minutes later, forces in a helicopter that had been shooting at the crowds, stopped to fire at a Western reporter and videographer who were shooting footage on the latest violence.

At least seven people had died in clampdowns before today’s violence and a Western official said at least one had died today. There were reports of at least 50 injured.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Jitters As Bahrain, Libya Bury Their Dead

Parts of the Middle East and North Africa are set for renewed displays of public anger toward their governments today, with the focus on Bahrain and Libya as protesters bury people killed in recent clashes.

Crowds have taken to the streets in Libya, Yemen, Iran and Bahrain over the last few days demanding at the very least more representation and at the most the overthrow of leaders.

The protests, inspired by popular revolts in Tunisia and Egypt that saw veteran presidents of both countries driven out of office, have forced the authorities to react, sometimes with fatal consequences.

Thousands of anti-government protesters were on the streets of Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi early on Friday, a day after “day of rage” demonstrations led to fatal skirmishes with the security forces.

BBC radio, quoting an eyewitness, said protesters against Muammar Gaddafi’s four decades long rule had clashed with security forces, who were using guns, and doctors had counted the bodies of 10 people.

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5 Dead, Hundreds Hurt In Bahrain

From Bahrain, the New York Times is reporting at least five deaths after hundreds of heavily armed riot police officers rushed into Pearl Square without warning early Thursday, firing shotguns, tear gas and concussion grenades at the thousands of demonstrators who were sleeping there as part of a widening protest against the nation’s absolute monarchy.

At least five people died, some of them reportedly killed in their sleep with scores of shotgun pellets to the face and chest, according to a witness and three doctors who received the dead and at least 200 wounded at a hospital here. The witness and the physicians spoke in return for anonymity for fear of official reprisals.

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Protests In Bahrain Swell On Third Day

Thousands of people are occupying the center of the Bahraini capital on a third day of anti-government protests.

The numbers of those who had camped out overnight in Manama’s Pearl Square were swelled by many who joined the protests throughout the day.

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Bahrain Protesters Take Main Square

Thousands of protesters poured into a main square in Bahrain’s capital Tuesday in an Egypt-style rebellion that sharply escalated pressure on authorities as the Arab push for change gripped the Gulf for the first time. The killing on a second protester today spurred the largest Shiite bloc to suspend its participation in Parliament.

Security forces have battled demonstrators calling for political reforms and greater freedoms over two days, leading to the deaths of two protesters and the main opposition group vowing to freeze its work in parliament in protest.

In a clear sign of concern over the widening crisis, Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa made a rare national TV address, offering condolences for the deaths, pledging an investigation into the killings and promising to push ahead with reforms, which include loosening state controls on the media and Internet.

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Video Of Police Firing At Bahrainis

Below is a video clip of Bahraini security forces repeatedly firing rubber bullets at a crowd of demonstrators as it retreats.

The full report about today’s protest in Bahrain can be found here.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

One Dead As Violence Rocks Bahrain

Ed. Note: This dispatch is updated with more recent information, photos and videos here, here, here, here and here.

Reuters is reporting that police are firing teargas and rubber bullets to break up demonstrations in Bahrain today, and at least one protester killed according to witnesses in a “Day of Rage” stimulated by popular upheaval in Egypt and Tunisia.

Helicopters circled over the Gulf Arab state’s capital Manama, where protesters had been due to gather but which remained quiet as security forces patrolled Shi’ite areas. More than 20 people were hurt, one of them critically, in clashes in Shi’ite villages that ring the capital, witnesses said.

The New York Times reports that 20 Bahraini police officers raised their weapons and fired rubber bullets and canisters of tear gas directly into a small group of protesters chanting slogans and holding signs. One man fell instantly and was shot at as he squirmed on the ground. Another was trapped against a wall and writhed as an officer shot rubber bullets at him, again.

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Price Of Keeping Peace In Bahrain? $2700

Bahrain, one of the tiniest, wealthiest and, because it serves as the parking lot for the US Navy’s 5th Fleet, strategically important countries on Earth is facing their own rebellion as the Tunisian contagion caught by Egypt spreads.

Bahraini Shi’ites have long complained of discrimination by the ruling Sunni dynasty, whose crackdown on dissent last year touched off riots.

In advance of protests scheduled for today by Shi’ite opposition groups, Bahrain’s royal rulers have been making concessions – not the least of which being last week’s grant by King Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa of $2700 per family – and a promise to allow greater freedom of information.

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