News ID: 111685
Published: 0400 GMT February 14, 2015

Protesters mark 4th anniversary of Bahrain uprising

Protesters mark 4th anniversary of Bahrain uprising

Bahraini police fired tear gas to disperse protesters who took to the streets Saturday on the fourth anniversary of an uprising that deeply divided the key US ally.

Amnesty International urged Bahrain to "rein in" its security forces and "seize the opportunity of the fourth anniversary of the uprising to announce genuine and long overdue reforms", AFP reported.

Police deployed heavily as men and women carrying Bahrain's red and white flag alongside portraits of detained activists chanted "Down with Hamad", in reference to the country’s king.

Protesters burned tires and used rocks, garbage containers and branches to block roads.

The police fired tear gas and sound bombs after beefing up security around several villages and along major roads, witnesses said, without reporting any casualties.

The opposition said on Twitter, however, that the police fired buckshot and posted pictures of wounded protesters. It also said several activists were arrested.

The security measures were aimed at keeping the demonstrators out of central Manama, where the uprising was focused.

Bahrain's Saudi-backed Sunni authorities crushed protests led by its majority Shias shortly after they erupted on February 14, 2011, taking their cue from Islamic Awakening uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa.

The February 14 Coalition, a cyber youth group, had called for demonstrations and strikes across the kingdom to mark the anniversary. But the public security chief, Major General Tariq al-Hassan, issued a stern warning against any protests.

Amnesty said in a statement that "fundamental freedoms have increasingly been curtailed" in Bahrain. The London-based rights watchdog urged the kingdom to release detained activists, allow demonstrations and "hold to account all those responsible for human rights abuses".

The country’s opposition is demanding a "real" constitutional monarchy with an elected prime minister independent of the ruling royal family, but the Al Khalifa dynasty has refused to yield.

Shia opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman is behind bars for allegedly trying to overthrow the regime. His arrest on December 28, shortly after he was reelected head of Bahrain's main opposition party Al-Wefaq, has sparked near-daily protests in Shia villages.

"The movement has reached its four years with the situation only getting worse and deteriorating with citizens threatened by losing their nationalities any minute," Al-Wefaq said.

Bahrain has also revoked the citizenships of scores of activists in the past few years, which has been denounced by international bodies and human rights associations.


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