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thepoliticalnotebook:

Update on Bahrain: Friday saw the largest antigovernment protest in a while in Bahrain, where tens of thousands marched and demonstrated solidarity with imprisoned politician Khalil al-Marzooq. President Obama’s UN speech mentioning Bahrain’s ongoing tensions is said to have been a factor in the reinvigorated marches — the February 14th movement’s anti-government activism and the resulting crackdown has received little policy and media attention in comparison with other uprisings and unrest elsewhere across the region. 
Today, 50 were sentenced to prison terms that ranged from five years to fifteen, the result of a mass trial targeting members of the anti-government movement for alleged links to militancy. 20 of the convicted were tried in absentia. The ruling is expected to trigger further protest and clashes. 
Photo: Al-Maqsha, Bahrain. A protester blocks the road during clashes with the riot police. Mohammed Al-Shaikh/AFP.
[NYT/Yahoo/Al Jazeera]

thepoliticalnotebook:

Update on Bahrain: Friday saw the largest antigovernment protest in a while in Bahrain, where tens of thousands marched and demonstrated solidarity with imprisoned politician Khalil al-Marzooq. President Obama’s UN speech mentioning Bahrain’s ongoing tensions is said to have been a factor in the reinvigorated marches — the February 14th movement’s anti-government activism and the resulting crackdown has received little policy and media attention in comparison with other uprisings and unrest elsewhere across the region. 

Today, 50 were sentenced to prison terms that ranged from five years to fifteen, the result of a mass trial targeting members of the anti-government movement for alleged links to militancy. 20 of the convicted were tried in absentia. The ruling is expected to trigger further protest and clashes. 

Photo: Al-Maqsha, Bahrain. A protester blocks the road during clashes with the riot police. Mohammed Al-Shaikh/AFP.

[NYT/Yahoo/Al Jazeera]

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fotojournalismus:

Bahraini anti-government protesters carry national flags during a march on Feb. 3, 2013, in the western village of Malkiya, Bahrain. Hundreds shouted “down with the government” during the march, called by several opposition groups to demand freedom for political prisoners and democracy in the Gulf island kingdom
[Credit : Hasan Jamali/AP]

fotojournalismus:

Bahraini anti-government protesters carry national flags during a march on Feb. 3, 2013, in the western village of Malkiya, Bahrain. Hundreds shouted “down with the government” during the march, called by several opposition groups to demand freedom for political prisoners and democracy in the Gulf island kingdom

[Credit : Hasan Jamali/AP]

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fotojournalismus:

Anti government protesters shout slogans as they try to enter al-Eker village, south of Manama, October 22, 2012. Seven people have been detained over the killing of a policeman last week in al-Eker, which police has blocked off since Friday. Wefaq, the main opposition group in Bahrain, said on Sunday that clashes had broken out near al-Eker, south of Manama, after some rights activists and medics tried to enter the village.
[Credit : Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters]

fotojournalismus:

Anti government protesters shout slogans as they try to enter al-Eker village, south of Manama, October 22, 2012. Seven people have been detained over the killing of a policeman last week in al-Eker, which police has blocked off since Friday. Wefaq, the main opposition group in Bahrain, said on Sunday that clashes had broken out near al-Eker, south of Manama, after some rights activists and medics tried to enter the village.

[Credit : Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters]

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fotojournalismus:

A Bahraini woman walks past a poster demanding the freedom of jailed human rights activist Nabeel Rajab during the third day mourning procession of Rajab’s elderly mother, Rabab, in Manama, Bahrain, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. Rajab is on a hunger strike after authorities, who allowed him to leave prison for the first day of funeral rites for his mother, revoked his permission to participate in the following two days of rites, according to relatives and human rights activists.
[Credit : Hasan Jamali/AP]

fotojournalismus:

A Bahraini woman walks past a poster demanding the freedom of jailed human rights activist Nabeel Rajab during the third day mourning procession of Rajab’s elderly mother, Rabab, in Manama, Bahrain, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. Rajab is on a hunger strike after authorities, who allowed him to leave prison for the first day of funeral rites for his mother, revoked his permission to participate in the following two days of rites, according to relatives and human rights activists.

[Credit : Hasan Jamali/AP]

Filed under Bahrain middle east asia human rights

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fotojournalismus:

A Bahraini anti-government protester throws a petrol bomb toward riot police, unseen, firing tear gas and stun grenades in Sadad, Bahrain, on Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012. Clashes erupted at the end of a mourning procession for Ali Hussein Niema, 17, who allegedly was shot dead last week by riot police.
[Credit : Hasan Jamali/AP]

fotojournalismus:

A Bahraini anti-government protester throws a petrol bomb toward riot police, unseen, firing tear gas and stun grenades in Sadad, Bahrain, on Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012. Clashes erupted at the end of a mourning procession for Ali Hussein Niema, 17, who allegedly was shot dead last week by riot police.

[Credit : Hasan Jamali/AP]

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Bahrain appeal court upholds activists’ convictions
An appeals court in Bahrain has upheld the convictions of 20 activists and opposition figures for allegedly plotting to overthrow the state.
The verdicts, originally issued by a military court following the crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations last year, include eight life sentences.
Among those convicted was Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who went on a 110-day hunger strike in protest at his detention.
The defendants, seven of whom were tried in absentia, plan to appeal.
Human rights groups have demanded their release and said no evidence was presented by the authorities at the trial showing the activists had used or advocated violence during the protests against King Hamad.
Also sentenced on Tuesday were Hassan Mushaima and Abdeljalil al-Singace, both leaders of an unauthorised Shia group, the al-Haq (Truth) Movement for Liberty and Democracy.
Pictured: Rights groups say no evidence was presented showing the activists had used or advocated violence

Bahrain appeal court upholds activists’ convictions

An appeals court in Bahrain has upheld the convictions of 20 activists and opposition figures for allegedly plotting to overthrow the state.

The verdicts, originally issued by a military court following the crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations last year, include eight life sentences.

Among those convicted was Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who went on a 110-day hunger strike in protest at his detention.

The defendants, seven of whom were tried in absentia, plan to appeal.

Human rights groups have demanded their release and said no evidence was presented by the authorities at the trial showing the activists had used or advocated violence during the protests against King Hamad.

Also sentenced on Tuesday were Hassan Mushaima and Abdeljalil al-Singace, both leaders of an unauthorised Shia group, the al-Haq (Truth) Movement for Liberty and Democracy.

Pictured: Rights groups say no evidence was presented showing the activists had used or advocated violence

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Bahrain rights activist Nabeel Rajab back in detention
Prominent Bahraini rights activist Nabeel Rajab has been re-arrested on suspicion of posting tweets seen as critical of Bahrain’s ruling system.
Mr Rajab is accused of publicly insulting residents of a Sunni-dominated neighbourhood for their ties to the ruling dynasty, lawyers said.
The case is the fifth since May against Mr Rajab, who was bailed last week.
Last year, Bahrain cracked down on Shia-led protests against the ruling Sunni al-Khalifa family.
Dozens of people died in the unrest, and rights activists have been routinely prosecuted by the authorities, drawing international criticism.
Pictured: Nabeel Rajab has been an outspoken critic of Bahrain’s ruling royal family

Bahrain rights activist Nabeel Rajab back in detention

Prominent Bahraini rights activist Nabeel Rajab has been re-arrested on suspicion of posting tweets seen as critical of Bahrain’s ruling system.

Mr Rajab is accused of publicly insulting residents of a Sunni-dominated neighbourhood for their ties to the ruling dynasty, lawyers said.

The case is the fifth since May against Mr Rajab, who was bailed last week.

Last year, Bahrain cracked down on Shia-led protests against the ruling Sunni al-Khalifa family.

Dozens of people died in the unrest, and rights activists have been routinely prosecuted by the authorities, drawing international criticism.

Pictured: Nabeel Rajab has been an outspoken critic of Bahrain’s ruling royal family

Filed under bahrain middle east asia freedom of speech human rights

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Bahrain protests: Shias rally against closer ties with Saudi Arabia
Tens of thousands of Shia protesters demonstrate against further integration between Sunni rulers of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia
Tens of thousands of mainly Shia protesters in Bahrain have joined a march to denounce proposals for closer ties between the unrest-torn Gulf kingdom and neighbouring Saudi Arabia.
There were no immediate reports of violence, but the large turnout on Friday points to strong opposition to further integration between the Sunni rulers of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Gulf leaders this week delayed a decision on the proposals.
Bahrain’s majority Shia population began demonstrations against unification 15 months ago. They are seeking a stronger political voice in the Sunni-ruled region.
Pictured: Bahrain protests – Demonstrators wave Bahraini flags as they march through Budaiya during an anti-government rally last month. Photograph: Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters

Bahrain protests: Shias rally against closer ties with Saudi Arabia

Tens of thousands of Shia protesters demonstrate against further integration between Sunni rulers of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia

Tens of thousands of mainly Shia protesters in Bahrain have joined a march to denounce proposals for closer ties between the unrest-torn Gulf kingdom and neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

There were no immediate reports of violence, but the large turnout on Friday points to strong opposition to further integration between the Sunni rulers of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Gulf leaders this week delayed a decision on the proposals.

Bahrain’s majority Shia population began demonstrations against unification 15 months ago. They are seeking a stronger political voice in the Sunni-ruled region.

Pictured: Bahrain protests – Demonstrators wave Bahraini flags as they march through Budaiya during an anti-government rally last month. Photograph: Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters

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In Bahrain, the spark behind Pearl Revolution still glows

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – A little over a year ago, hundreds of thousands of people in Bahrain were coming together nightly to demand democratic reforms from the monarchs who have ruled this tiny country for decades.

The Pearl Revolution, as it was called, sought to emulate the Arab Spring uprisings that were sprouting throughout the region and would lead to the toppling of dictators in Egypt, Libya and Yemen.

Today, the traffic circle in the capital of Manama known as Pearl Square, where many pro-democracy rallies were held, is guarded by police and ringed with barbed wire. The protesters are gone, crushed by police and troops sent by fellow monarchs in Saudi Arabia. Critics of the regime are now being jailed unjustly, says Amnesty International.

"The situation is worsening; we are turning into a military state," says activist Yehia Hadid, who lives in exile in Lebanon.

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U.S. resumes some weapons sale to Bahrain

The United States is loosening some of its restrictions on weapons sales to Bahrain, a Persian Gulf ally that has grappled with massive protests pushing for greater democracy.

“We have made the decision to release additional items to Bahrain, mindful of the fact that there are a number of serious unresolved human rights issues that the government of Bahrain needs to address,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Friday.

But the U.S. move has upset rights activists, who say the country is still attacking and abusing dissidents.

The U.S. froze its weapons sales to Bahrain in October over human rights concerns. Nuland said the U.S. was still withholding antitank missiles and Humvees, along with “certain additional items for the Bahrain Defense Force,” stressing that the newly released items “are not used for crowd control.”

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Bahrain announces retrial for hunger striker Khawaja
Political activist to be tried in civilian rather than military court as Bahrain appears to respond to international pressure
Bahrain has announced a retrial for a hunger-striking political activist and 20 others accused of trying to overthrow the western-backed monarchy in the Gulf state’s Arab spring protests last year.

Abdulhadi al-Khawaja is to be tried in a civilian court – rather than a military court as before – part of an effort by the Bahraini government to respond to domestic and international criticism of its policies by finding a face-saving solution. A senior Bahraini official suggested he might get a reduced sentence in a new trial.
But continued protest in Bahrain was backed by Amnesty International UK yesterday, saying that, pending retrial, Khawaja and 13 others should be released from custody. Human Rights Watch also called for their immediate release, saying the set-aside verdict was “mind-boggling” in its lack any specific criminal offences.
Khawaja, 52, was sentenced to life imprisonment for plotting against the state last summer. But a three-month hunger strike and an energetic campaign by family and supporters have kept his case in the spotlight. It was raised too in the runup to the recent controversial Formula One Grand Prix in Bahrain. Khawaja is in a military hospital in a serious condition, having lost 25% of his body weight; the Bahrain defence forces denied in a statement on Sunday that he was being force-fed.
The retrial is a partial victory for Khawaja, but his family insisted he must not remain in custody. “Abdulhadi al-Khawaja did not go on hunger strike saying death or retrial, he said death or freedom,” his daughter Maryam wrote on Twitter. “A retrial doesn’t mean much.”
Pictured: The Bahraini hunger striker Abdulhadi al-Khawaja before his arrest. Photograph: Mazen Mahdi/EPA

Bahrain announces retrial for hunger striker Khawaja

Political activist to be tried in civilian rather than military court as Bahrain appears to respond to international pressure

Bahrain has announced a retrial for a hunger-striking political activist and 20 others accused of trying to overthrow the western-backed monarchy in the Gulf state’s Arab spring protests last year.

Abdulhadi al-Khawaja is to be tried in a civilian court – rather than a military court as before – part of an effort by the Bahraini government to respond to domestic and international criticism of its policies by finding a face-saving solution. A senior Bahraini official suggested he might get a reduced sentence in a new trial.

But continued protest in Bahrain was backed by Amnesty International UK yesterday, saying that, pending retrial, Khawaja and 13 others should be released from custody. Human Rights Watch also called for their immediate release, saying the set-aside verdict was “mind-boggling” in its lack any specific criminal offences.

Khawaja, 52, was sentenced to life imprisonment for plotting against the state last summer. But a three-month hunger strike and an energetic campaign by family and supporters have kept his case in the spotlight. It was raised too in the runup to the recent controversial Formula One Grand Prix in Bahrain. Khawaja is in a military hospital in a serious condition, having lost 25% of his body weight; the Bahrain defence forces denied in a statement on Sunday that he was being force-fed.

The retrial is a partial victory for Khawaja, but his family insisted he must not remain in custody. “Abdulhadi al-Khawaja did not go on hunger strike saying death or retrial, he said death or freedom,” his daughter Maryam wrote on Twitter. “A retrial doesn’t mean much.”

Pictured: The Bahraini hunger striker Abdulhadi al-Khawaja before his arrest. Photograph: Mazen Mahdi/EPA

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Leading Bahrain activist Zainab al-Khawaja detained

A prominent pro-democracy activist in Bahrain has been detained for seven days after being arrested for allegedly insulting police, rights groups say.
Zainab al-Khawaja was held on Saturday night after sitting in a road leading to the Bahrain International Circuit, a day before the Formula 1 Grand Prix.
She was demanding the cancellation of the race, the end of the crackdown on dissent, and the release of her father.
Abdulhadi al-Khawaja has been on a hunger strike in prison for 76 days.
Activists said Zainab al-Khawaja was arrested while sitting peacefully in the middle of a main road in protest at the detention of her father, and that she had been charged with disrupting traffic and insulting an officer.
Her sister, Maryam, said: “I can guess it’s because nobody really believes in the legal system. Zainab’s mentality is you can only bring about the fall of the regime when you stop treating it as a government.”
On Tuesday morning, both the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights and the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights said Ms Khawaja had been remanded in custody for another seven days pending an investigation.
Pictured: This is not the first time that Zainab al-Khawaja has been arrested at a protest in Bahrain

Leading Bahrain activist Zainab al-Khawaja detained

A prominent pro-democracy activist in Bahrain has been detained for seven days after being arrested for allegedly insulting police, rights groups say.

Zainab al-Khawaja was held on Saturday night after sitting in a road leading to the Bahrain International Circuit, a day before the Formula 1 Grand Prix.

She was demanding the cancellation of the race, the end of the crackdown on dissent, and the release of her father.

Abdulhadi al-Khawaja has been on a hunger strike in prison for 76 days.

Activists said Zainab al-Khawaja was arrested while sitting peacefully in the middle of a main road in protest at the detention of her father, and that she had been charged with disrupting traffic and insulting an officer.

Her sister, Maryam, said: “I can guess it’s because nobody really believes in the legal system. Zainab’s mentality is you can only bring about the fall of the regime when you stop treating it as a government.”

On Tuesday morning, both the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights and the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights said Ms Khawaja had been remanded in custody for another seven days pending an investigation.

Pictured: This is not the first time that Zainab al-Khawaja has been arrested at a protest in Bahrain

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Bahrain Grand Prix: riot squads, teargas and petrol bombs as protesters claim police beat Shia activist to death
As drivers prepared for the Bahrain Grand Prix, parts of the desert kingdom looked more like a war zone and one protester was discovered dead. Colin Freeman reports.
Built very much for strength rather than speed, they were not the kind of vehicles normally seen at the world’s premiere motor racing event. Stretched along the desert highway leading to the Bahrain’s Formula One race track were dozens of armoured personnel carriers - ready to use all means necessary to ensure the event went ahead.
More reminiscent of a war zone than a spectator sport, this was the extraordinary scene on Saturday as the Bahraini authorities launched a massive security clampdown to prevent pro-democracy supporters disrupting Sunday’s Grand Prix. Yet their efforts to keep things peaceful proved fruitless: by late afternoon, demonstrators around the capital, Manama, were once again fighting running street battles with police, who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.
"This is not way to deal with peaceful protests," said demonstrator Hussein Mohammed, 25, looking down a street to where clouds of tear gas were drifting. "The government should not be hosting racing contests when people are denied basic rights."
Last night, it was claimed that one activist had already paid the ultimate price. The body of Salah Habib Abbas, 37, a municipal gardener, was found lying in a pool of blood on the roof of an allotment shed close to Shakhura village, where anti-government protesters had played a cat-and-mouse game with police the night before.
Fellow demonstrators said that after being chased through allotments, he had last been seen being arrested by police, who they alleged then beat him to death.
Pictured: Anti-government protesters in Manama

Bahrain Grand Prix: riot squads, teargas and petrol bombs as protesters claim police beat Shia activist to death

As drivers prepared for the Bahrain Grand Prix, parts of the desert kingdom looked more like a war zone and one protester was discovered dead. Colin Freeman reports.

Built very much for strength rather than speed, they were not the kind of vehicles normally seen at the world’s premiere motor racing event. Stretched along the desert highway leading to the Bahrain’s Formula One race track were dozens of armoured personnel carriers - ready to use all means necessary to ensure the event went ahead.

More reminiscent of a war zone than a spectator sport, this was the extraordinary scene on Saturday as the Bahraini authorities launched a massive security clampdown to prevent pro-democracy supporters disrupting Sunday’s Grand Prix. Yet their efforts to keep things peaceful proved fruitless: by late afternoon, demonstrators around the capital, Manama, were once again fighting running street battles with police, who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.

"This is not way to deal with peaceful protests," said demonstrator Hussein Mohammed, 25, looking down a street to where clouds of tear gas were drifting. "The government should not be hosting racing contests when people are denied basic rights."

Last night, it was claimed that one activist had already paid the ultimate price. The body of Salah Habib Abbas, 37, a municipal gardener, was found lying in a pool of blood on the roof of an allotment shed close to Shakhura village, where anti-government protesters had played a cat-and-mouse game with police the night before.

Fellow demonstrators said that after being chased through allotments, he had last been seen being arrested by police, who they alleged then beat him to death.

Pictured: Anti-government protesters in Manama

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Thousands of Bahrain F1 protesters dispersed
Security forces use tear gas to end march against Grand Prix race as crown prince confirms Sunday’s race will go ahead.
Thousands of anti-government protesters have been dispersed after flooding a major highway in Bahrain demanding a halt to the Formula One race on the first day of its practice runs ahead of Sunday’s race.
The move cames as the Gulf kingdom’s crown prince vowed that the country’s premier sporting event would go ahead.
Bahraini authorities stepped up security around the Formula One circuit on Friday after clashes between protesters and security forces intensified ahead of the Grand Prix.
Friday’s massive rally was organised by Shia political blocs, including the main groups Al Wefaq and Al Waad.
The rally is part actions by the country’s majority Shia population as they continue their longstanding demands for greater equality in the Sunni-ruled kingdom.
Al Jazeera’s special correspondent in Mamana, the capital, who cannot be named for security reasons, described the part of the protest that he followed:
"I would say about 3,000 people gathered with banners and chanting for freedom and democracy and dignity," he said.
"That demonstration has now been effectively disrupted by the police.
"I’m now inside a shopping mall where a good deal of the protesters are now taking cover from the tear gas and riot police who are outside now.
"I think it’s going to be a tense evening because, although it’s calm again where I am, the Shia villages that surround Manama are expected to be the scenes of renewed clashes throughout the night."
Pictured: Clashes have been building in the week leading to Sunday’s round of the Formula One competition [Reuters]

Thousands of Bahrain F1 protesters dispersed

Security forces use tear gas to end march against Grand Prix race as crown prince confirms Sunday’s race will go ahead.

Thousands of anti-government protesters have been dispersed after flooding a major highway in Bahrain demanding a halt to the Formula One race on the first day of its practice runs ahead of Sunday’s race.

The move cames as the Gulf kingdom’s crown prince vowed that the country’s premier sporting event would go ahead.

Bahraini authorities stepped up security around the Formula One circuit on Friday after clashes between protesters and security forces intensified ahead of the Grand Prix.

Friday’s massive rally was organised by Shia political blocs, including the main groups Al Wefaq and Al Waad.

The rally is part actions by the country’s majority Shia population as they continue their longstanding demands for greater equality in the Sunni-ruled kingdom.

Al Jazeera’s special correspondent in Mamana, the capital, who cannot be named for security reasons, described the part of the protest that he followed:

"I would say about 3,000 people gathered with banners and chanting for freedom and democracy and dignity," he said.

"That demonstration has now been effectively disrupted by the police.

"I’m now inside a shopping mall where a good deal of the protesters are now taking cover from the tear gas and riot police who are outside now.

"I think it’s going to be a tense evening because, although it’s calm again where I am, the Shia villages that surround Manama are expected to be the scenes of renewed clashes throughout the night."

Pictured: Clashes have been building in the week leading to Sunday’s round of the Formula One competition [Reuters]

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