Bahrain: Symbolic Funeral for Diraz Martyrs, Ayatollah Qassem’s Fate Still Unknown
Bahrainis held on Sunday a symbolic funeral for slain activists who were martyred in Al-Khalifa’s brutal crackdown on Diraz last week, as the fate of prominent Shia cleric Ayatollah Sheikh Issa Al-Qassem remains unknown.
The five martyrs, who were killed as they were defending the house of Ayatollah Qassem, were buried on Friday without their families’ permission in a move denounced by the victim’s relatives as a crime.
“The martyrs’ families announce that depriving them from burying their sons in accordance with their wish can be construed as a crime which will be added to the first crime of liquidating them in the field,” the families said in a statement.
A Bahraini Interior Ministry official said the five were buried on Friday after having contacted the families to attend funeral services, the Arabic-language al-Wasat newspaper reported on Sunday.
The bereaved families said in Sunday’s statement that they had received a call on Friday to send two male members to a local police station, Press TV reported.
However, they refused to go because they knew that the summoning of male relatives meant a burial ceremony was planned. They called for the returning of the bodies instead for proper funeral services.
The developments come as the fate of Sheikh Qassem remains unknown amid reports that the regime wanted to send him to exile either in Turkey or the United Arab Emirates after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi rejected such a request in a show of support for the Shia leader.
On May 23, police raided Diraz, which has been under a military siege for almost a year, and stormed the home of the spiritual leader of Bahrain’s Shia majority.
At least five demonstrators were martyred and dozens more injured during the crackdown which also saw more than 280 people arrested.
The fresh wave of anti-regime protests broke out on May 21, when a Bahraini court sentenced Sheikh Qassim to one year in jail and ordered him to pay $265,266 in fines.
Last year, the cleric was also stripped of his citizenship, which sparked repeated sit-ins outside his residence in Diraz.