Clashes erupt as Bahrain protesters mark uprising anniversary

Clashes erupt as Bahrain protesters mark uprising anniversary
Protesters that gathered in Manama to mark the sixth anniversary of the revolution were met with tear gas and stun grenades on Tuesday.
2 min read
15 February, 2017
Protests erupted in the capital Manama on the anniversary of the revolution [AFP]

Clashes erupted between police and protesters in the Bahraini capital on Tuesday, witnesses said, on the sixth anniversary of anti-government demonstrations that were brutally suppressed by authorities.

Protesters held pictures of those killed during the violent 2011 crackdown and years that followed, while chanting slogans reminiscent of the Arab Spring uprisings.

Chants of "revolution until victory" and "no forgetting the martyrs" were heard before policemen fired tear gas and stun grenades into the crowds to prevent them from reaching the main entrance to the capital Manama.

Pictures of injured protesters online were shared by activists on social media however no official statements were published by the interior ministry.

Sunni-ruled Bahrain has been rocked by unrest since March 2011 when authorities backed by Saudi forces put down a month of protests led by the Gulf state's marginalised Shia-majority demanding democratic reforms.

Since then, hundreds, including influential community leaders, scholars, lawyers and internationally-recognised activists have been arrested and put on trial, while others have been stripped of their citizenship.

The Gulf kingdom's largest opposition party, al-Wefaq was the hardest hit in the crackdown and its leader Sheikh Ali Salman has been behind bars since 2014 after being convicted of “inciting hatred”.

Last week Bahrain's top court rejected an appeal by the group against its dissolution over terrorism-related charges, a judicial source said.

The court of cassation "denied the appeal against the dissolution of Al-Wefaq and the seizure of its assets," the source said.

The decision comes three months after the Gulf kingdom's largest Shia party appealed a court order to dissolve it over charges of inciting violence, encouraging demonstrations and "harbouring terrorism".

The court ruling drew strong criticism from the United Nations as well as international human rights groups.