Bahraini regime forces fire birdshots and tear gas canisters to disperse dozens of demonstrators in a suburb of the capital, Manama, during a protest against the continued imprisonment of prominent opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman.
Protesters took to the streets of Bilad al-Qadeem late on Thursday, carrying portraits of Salman, who is the secretary general of Bahrain’s main opposition bloc, the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, and Bahrain’s flags.
The demonstrators also censured the Al Khalifah regime over its crackdown on opposition activists and political dissidents.
Clashes broke out when regime forces intervened, firing shots and using tear gas to disperse the crowd. The protesters responded by throwing petrol bombs at police. Two officers were reportedly injured.
Earlier in the day, a similar demonstration was held in the village of Buri, located about 13 kilometers (eight miles) southwest of Manama, where participants demanded the immediate release of Salman.
Sheikh Salman was arrested in December 2014 on charges of attempting to overthrow the Manama regime and collaborating with foreign powers. He denies the charges, saying he has been seeking reforms in the kingdom through peaceful means.
In June 2015, a Bahraini court sentenced him to four years in prison on charges such as insulting the Bahraini Interior Ministry and inciting others to break the law. He was acquitted of seeking regime change.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has repeatedly called on the Manama regime to release the al-Wefaq leader.
Since February 14, 2011, anti-regime protesters have held numerous demonstrations on an almost daily basis in Bahrain, calling for the Al Khalifah family to relinquish power.
In March that year, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to the country to assist the Bahraini regime in its crackdown on the peaceful protests.
Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of others injured or arrested in the crackdown.
Amnesty International and many other international rights organizations have frequently censured the Bahraini regime for the rampant human rights abuses against opposition activists and anti-regime protesters.