Bahrain government bans protests amid violence

Anti-government protest outside Manama (28 October 2012) Opposition activists say at least 80 people have died since February 2011

Bahrain has banned all protests and gatherings amid clashes between police and anti-government demonstrators.

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Al Khalifah said "repeated abuse" of the rights to freedom of speech and expression could no longer be accepted.

Protests would be permitted only once security and stability were sufficient to maintain national unity, he added.

Demonstrations were last banned during the three-month state of emergency King Hamad declared in March 2011.

The previous month protesters had occupied a prominent landmark in Manama, the now-demolished Pearl Roundabout, demanding more democracy and an end to what they said was discrimination against the majority Shia Muslim community by the Sunni royal family.

At least 35 people, including five police officers, were killed, hundreds were injured and thousands jailed in February and March 2011.

Since then, opposition and human rights activists say another 45 people have been killed, a figure which the government disputes.

In the past two weeks, officials say two policemen have died of injuries sustained during clashes with protesters in villages outside Manama.

'Against human rights'

In a statement announcing the ban on rallies and public gatherings, Sheikh Rashid said the government had strived to protect freedom of expression but the privilege had been "abused repeatedly" by organisers, with participants showing a lack of commitment to the law.

Riot police chase protesters outside Manama (17 October 2012) The interior minister said any illegal rally or gathering would be "tackled through legal actions"

The protests, which the interior minister said had called for the overthrow of the state and leading national figures, were "devoid of respect and intended to humiliate", and therefore "jeopardised civil peace and disturbed security and general order". This, he said, could not be accepted.

These events, he added, had been organised by political societies, led by the al-Wifaq National Islamic Society - the largest Shia opposition group.

Sheikh Rashid said that many members of Bahraini society were "fed up" with "such violations that risk civil peace", and that there was "a need to put an end to them".

"The interior ministry has strived to tackle those violations through co-ordination with the organisers in many occasions, but they failed to control those events despite their promises," he added.

They would remain banned until security was sufficient to preserve civil peace and protect national unity, the minister said.

He warned that any "illegal rally or gathering would be tackled through legal actions against those calling for and participating in it".

An al-Wifaq official, Hadi al-Musawi, told the Associated Press that the interior ministry's declaration went "against international human rights".

In September, the UN's Human Rights Commissioner, Navi Pillay, said criticising the government and calling for reforms were "not crimes".

"The government must engage in an open, genuine and meaningful dialogue with the opposition, across the political spectrum. This is the only constructive way to defuse an increasingly tense situation," she said.

In a separate development on Monday, Bahrain's prosecutor-general announced that it had appealed against the acquittals of a policewoman accused of torturing a journalist and two policemen who were charged with the manslaughter of two Shia protesters last year.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 217.

    Padmi. So many lies in one post: the Palestinians+ Arabs ATTACKED Israel in 47,48,67 and 73. Lost every war.

    when Jordan owned the West Bank between 48-67 Did the Palestinians get their state. Why?

    1.3 million Muslim/Christian Arabs in Israel. Full and equal right. How many Jews in Palestine? Or in Lebanon or Kuwait or Saudi Arabia or Iran?

    Christian population is GROWING only in ISRAEL.

  • rate this

    Comment number 216.

    @75 Pleb. I totally agree with your comment. I noticed that neither Mitt Romney nor Barack Obama ever metioned Bahrain, Yemen nor Saudi Arabia as these countries all have barbarious leaders who torture their citizens quite frequently! The clowns have no concern for human rights.

  • rate this

    Comment number 215.

    Why,are we,in the West so intelligent,that we can choose who we want to be friends with,and who we do not want to be friends with?
    Then again,are people who see us as an enemy,any more intelligent than we are?
    People are not born stupid.
    Some people think they are.
    Sadly....Most of them are either a Politician or a Religious Fanatic.

  • rate this

    Comment number 214.

    Amazing how the BBC restricts my comments/actions yet did not restrict those of Jimmy Savile!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 213.

    ...though continuing from 212, one shouldn't think that Syria was really *anti-west*, either. But clearly it was not like Bahrain which hosts a US naval base, and therefore gets off relatively extremely lightly when the question of human rights abuses is raised (like Saudi Arabia).


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