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Angry Bahrainis hold more anti-regime rallies nationwide

26 May 2017 15:50

 

People in Bahrain hold more rallies nationwide in protest at the Manama regime’s recent bloodshed in the besieged village of Diraz, which is home to the spiritual leader of the country’s Shia majority, Sheikh Isa Qassim.

On Thursday evening, protesters took to the streets in several areas to condemn the Bahraini military’s Tuesday raid on Diraz, which killed five supporters of Sheikh Qassim.

The gatherings, however, turned violent when regime forces intervened and attempted to disperse the demonstrators. Nine arrests were made during the skirmishes.

On May 23, Bahraini forces raided Diraz, which has been under a military siege for almost a year, and stormed into the home of Sheikh Qassim.

During the raid, regime forces killed at least five demonstrators, wounded dozens and arrested over 280 people during the crackdown on Diraz, which took place shortly after a meeting between US President Donald Trump and Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Protesters clash with Bahraini regime forces during a rally against the deadly Diraz crackdown, May 25, 2017.

The fresh wave of anti-regime protests broke out on May 21, when a Bahraini court convicted Sheikh Qassim of illegal collection of funds and money laundering. The cleric was sentenced to one year in jail and ordered to pay $265,266 in fines.

Last year, the cleric was also stripped of his citizenship, sparking repeated sit-ins outside his residence in Diraz.

On Wednesday, the Bahraini Interior Ministry warned the protesters against holding more rallies, but the stern warning has failed to end anti-government marches across the kingdom.

The deadly Diraz raid has drawn angry reactions from prominent human rights groups, with Amnesty International calling for an independent investigation into Manama’s use of “excessive force.”

New York-based Human Rights First also urged the Trump administration to condemn the Bahraini military for the “deadly disturbing” raid on Diraz.

Clashes erupt during anti-regime rallies across Bahrain, May 25, 2017.

In a show of solidarity with Sheikh Qassim and his supporters, Iraqi people gathered outside the Bahraini embassy in Baghdad on Wednesday to deplore the Diraz attack.

Iranians are also set to hold similar marches in different cities following Friday Prayers.

Tehran has denounced the fatal Diraz raid as “unacceptable.” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the bloodshed was the US president’s “cozying up” to despots during the visit to Saudi Arabia earlier this week, where Trump vowed Washington’s relations with Manama would improve.

Reacting to the developments, Germany also said it has been “following with concern the latest events in Bahrain, which claimed the lives of 5 people.”

The German Foreign Ministry urged, in a statement issued Thursday, all parties to “work towards peaceful coexistence, and return to the path of national dialogue.”

This is while Saudi Arabia, which has been helping the Bahraini military in its crackdown on peaceful protests since 2011, has defended Manama’s brutalities in Diraz.

Home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, Bahrain has carried out a crackdown on opposition political activity and dissent since an uprising began in 2011 against the ruling Al Khalifah regime by demonstrators from the Shia Muslim majority.

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