Police Confront Bahrain’s Largest Demonstration in Weeks
Riot police broke up Bahrain’s largest demonstration in weeks using tear gas and sound bombs Friday. Witnesses said there were demonstrations in nearly a dozen locations, the largest being a group of thousands who marched down Budaiya highway, a major road outside the capital which has seen frequent unrest since the outset of Bahrain’s uprising. Clashes were also reported in Jidhafs, near the capital Manama, and Abu Saiba. At least one person in Jidhafs was injured by birdshot fired by police, according to Yousif al-Muhafdah, a Bahraini human rights activist.
Meanwhile, the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies, an international group of scientists, engineers, and doctors, issued a statement and letter calling on Bahrain’s king to clear 20 medics of all charges and allow them to return to their jobs. The group urged the king, “sincerely to use your good offices, on humanitarian grounds and out of respect for the importance of medical neutrality, to ensure that the Bahraini medics are accorded the full range of their fundamental rights.” A week remains in the appeal process for 20 medics, and the letter asks the king to “Ensure that the 20 health professionals, most and perhaps all of whom have been tortured to extract confessions and whose sentences range from 5 to 15 years in prison, are pardoned and enabled to immediately return to their important medical work.”
Additionally, 11-year-old Ali Hasan is reportedly scheduled for a court hearing next week after being detained for allegedly taking part in anti-government protests. His lawyer said the boy was arrested last month and took his school exams behind bars.
Finally, the Bloomberg editorial board addresses Bahrain’s ongoing unrest, pointing to the need for Saudi Arabia’s complicity if true reform is to occur. The article proposes a number of changes for Bahrain, suggesting it draw upon the “pledges already made by the kings of Morocco and Jordan, [and] move toward becoming a constitutional monarchy, one where a fully elected National Assembly appoints a prime minister who then appoints a cabinet.” The author adds, “U.S. officials should strive to convince the Saudi royals that a fairer deal for Bahrain’s Shiites, not to mention Saudi Arabia’s, would strengthen their position and lessen the odds of meddling by Shiite-majority Iran.”