Protests in Manama after Saudi Arabia executes two Bahrainis on 'terror' charges

Protests in Manama after Saudi Arabia executes two Bahrainis on 'terror' charges
Bahrainis took to the streets to protest against the execution of two young Bahrainis who had been detained in Saudi Arabia since 2015.
2 min read
30 May, 2023
Bahraini protesters denounced both the Al Saud and Al Khalifa ruling families [Getty]

Angry protests erupted in Bahrain on Monday against the execution of two Bahraini nationals by Saudi Arabia.

The two Bahrainis, Jafaar Sultan and Sadiq Thamer, were executed on Monday morning for "joining a terrorist cell led by a man wanted in Bahrain" aimed at "destabilising Saudi Arabia and Bahrain", according to Saudi media. The executions took place in Saudi’s Shia-majority eastern region. 

The men had been detained since 2015, with Amnesty reporting that their arrest was "arbitrary" and that their confessions were extracted by torture.  

Protests erupted in the Bahraini capital of Manama, with protesters chanting "Death to the House of Saud" and "Death to Al Khalifa", referring to the ruling families of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain respectively.

The demonstrations carried on into the night, with protesters claiming the two executed men were murdered for sectarian reasons.  

Bahrain's Shia opposition group Al-Wefaq, which operates clandestinely after it was outlawed for its support for the failed 2011 Bahrain uprising, wrote on Facebook that the "Saudi regime is committing a crime by executing Jafar Sultan and Sadiq Thamer".

An uprising took place in Bahrain in 2011, as part of a wider "Arab Spring" which shook the Middle East and North Africa. It called for a constitutional monarchy and democratic reforms.

After a month of large-scale protests, the movement was crushed by direct military intervention from the Saudi-led "Peninsula Shield Force", which also included the UAE and Kuwait, on behalf of the Al Khalifa ruling family. 

Bahrain is a Shia-majority country but the Al Khalifas and most of the country's ruling elite are Sunni.

Saudi Arabia remains one of the worst states in the world for the death penalty, with more than 1,000 death sentences carried out by the kingdom since King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud assumed the throne in 2015.