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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bahrain police crackdown kills 5 - UPDATED

In the middle of the night Wednesday night, Bahrain's riot police used force against protesters who were camping out in Pearl Square in the center of the capital, Manama.
Without warning, hundreds of heavily armed riot police officers rushed into Pearl Square here early Thursday, firing 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.

Men, women and young children ran screaming, choking and collapsing.

The square was filled with the crack of tear gas canisters and the wail of ambulances rushing people to the hospital. Teams of plainclothes police officers carrying shotguns swarmed through the area, but it was unclear if they used the weapons to subdue the crowd.


By 11 p.m. Wednesday, the square had started to quiet down. Young men sat smoking water pipes, while young children slept on blankets or in tents. At 2:45 a.m. Thursday, the camp was quiet, those awake still reflecting on the remarkable events of the day. And then, the blue flashing lights of police vehicles began to appear, encircling the square. At first there were four vehicles, then dozens and then hundreds.

Wearing white crash helmets, the police rushed the square.

“Everybody was sleeping, they came from upside and down,” said Zeinab Ali, 22, as she and a group of women huddled, crying and angry, in small nearby market.

The protest had begun on Monday, when young organizers called for a “Day of Rage,” modeled on the uprisings in Egypt or Tunisia. On that day, the police were unforgiving, refusing to allow demonstrators to gather, overwhelming them with tear gas and other rounds. One young man was killed, shot in the back by the police. A day later, another young man, a mourner, also was killed, shot in the back.

That galvanized the opposition and under pressure from the United States, the king withdrew his police force from the streets.


Late at night, thousands of people remained, hoping to establish a symbolically important base of protest in much the same way Egyptians took over Tahrir Square to launch their successful revolution against Hosni Mubarak.

But the leadership’s newfound tolerance for dissent was a mirage.


As the sun rose over the square, the night’s events came into sharp focus. The entire field was trampled and crushed. Canvas tents and a speaker’s podium lay crushed. The sound of ambulances continued to wail, and a helicopter circled the square.
In Bahrain, there is essentially a religious war between the Sunni King and his Shiite subjects. And the Shiites have had battle training... from Hezbullah.
King Hamad of Bahrain reportedly said in July 2008 that Bahrainis were receiving training from Hezbollah in Lebanon according to a cable released by Wikleaks and published in The Guardian newspaper .

The king who made the comment to US General David Petraeus, admitted he had no definitive proof.

The King also said that the Syrian government was complicit with the training of Bahrainis by Hezbollah, and was helping them with travel arrangements.
Five people were killed in the crackdown on Wednesday night and 'hundreds' were hurt.


This is based on things I've read on Twitter. The demonstrators apparently came at the police with swords and did quite a bit of damage. There are lots of very graphic pictures (including a bloodied hand with some fingers missing) here. Bahrain's foreign minister has been quoted as saying "You can see on TV swords and weapons and flags of Hezbollah."

On the other hand, the demonstrators claimed that the police did not allow paramedics to treat their wounded.

Let's go to the videotape.

Israel Radio has just reported that the Shiite members of the Bahrain parliament have resigned.

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At 11:15 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

There is open tension between the minority Sunni regime that rules Bahrain and the majority Shiite population.

The regime has shown no hesitation in using force to remain in power and its a reminder that that Tunisia and Egypt uprisings could simply be a case of one revolution, one time.

Age old methods of Arab governance die hard in the Middle East.


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