Following Months of Arab Spring Activity, Bahrain Bans Protests

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Officials on the Persian Gulf island of Bahrain have prohibited all rallies and demonstrations in the nation, reports the New York Times.
According to the Bahrain News Agency, Bahrain Interior Minister Lieutenant-General Shaikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa said any "illegal rally or gathering" would result in legal actions against those calling for and participating it. Al Khalifa also stated anyone connected with "such irregularities" could be deemed accountable in legal proceedings.
The LA Times reports that protests have become commonplace in Bahrain for more than a year as dissidents accuse the Sunni Muslim monarchy of police abuses and marginalization of Shiite Muslims in the region. Amnesty International told the LA Times that many "prisoners of conscience" remain jailed in Bahrain today.
An interpretation of the Interior Ministry's official statement released to the Bahrain News Agency stated, "rallies and gatherings have been associated with violence, rioting and attacks on public and private property," and that they "were a major threat to the safety of the public."
Critics of the Bahraini government's move told the LA Times that few protestors have resorted to violence and that suppression of demonstrations will only fuel growing unrest. Human Rights Watch, a nonpartisan watchdog group, said the Bahraini government has attacked peaceful demonstrators with tear gas in the past, reports the LA Times.
President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights Maryam Khawaja told the LA Times, "If the government doesn't allow any kind of peaceful protest, if it always attacks and suppresses them, of course it's going to turn into something else."
The United States has so far sided with the Bahraini government. According to the New York Times the strategic value of this backing is due to Bahrain's bulwark value against its neighbor Iran. The New York Times reports critics have called this an act of hypocrisy.

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This page contains a single entry by Sara G published on October 30, 2012 1:33 PM.

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