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Bahrain continues to rise

Despite a widespread security clampdown (see PN 2543) around the anniversary of last year’s 14 February nonviolent uprising, Bahrainis continue to struggle for democracy with demonstrations and an open-ended hunger strike.

On 9 March, tens of thousands protested at Manama’s heavily-guarded Pearl roundabout, which a year ago was Bahrain’s Tahrir Square. Reportedly, riot police fired tear gas into the crowd and protesters threw rocks in return.

On 23 March, hundreds of demonstrators organised by the 14 February Revolution Youth Coalition broke away from a licensed demonstration organised by official opposition parties, to head once again for the Pearl roundabout. They were met with water cannon and tear gas.

The youth coalition was protesting at the death of 59-year-old Abda Ali Abdul-Hussein, who died after police fired tear gas grenades into her house.

Ms Abdul-Hussein, a diabetic, had been hospitalised a week earlier after tear gas entered her house.

Ahmed Abdul Nabi, 31, also died on 22 March, after a tear gas grenade was fired into his home.

Earlier in the week, the UN high commissioner for human rights had criticised Bahraini forces for their ‘disproportionate use of force’ against protesters, saying that the use of tear gas might have been a factor in over 30 deaths in the last year.

Hunger strike

On 25 March, a demonstration was held in the northwestern village of Diraz in solidarity with prominent human rights activist Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, who has been on Bahrain’s first open-ended hunger strike. The fast, started on 8 February, was continuing as PN went to press.

Abdulhadi was one of 14 activists arrested in April 2011, and one of seven to receive a life sentence from a military court for his activism (described as ‘organising and managing a terrorist group’).

In mid-March, it became known that the 14 February Revolution Youth Coalition had written to Bernie Ecclestone, the British CEO of Formula 1 racing, asking for April’s F1 grand prix in Bahrain to be cancelled.

Since mid-February, nine US solidarity activists have been arrested and deported for ‘violating their visas’ according to Bahraini officials.

John M Lindsay is a PN student reporter. 

Topics: Arab spring