Middle East

Bahrain authorities prohibit Shiite ‘human chain’ rally

Women attempt to begin a “human chain” anti-government protest in Manama.

DUBAI: Bahraini authorities banned Tuesday the Shiite opposition from organizing a demonstration against the jailing of medics and activists over their roles in pro-democracy protests quelled in mid-March.

The head of Public Security, Maj. Gen. Tareq Mubarak bin Daina, turned down the request by Bahrain’s main Shiite opposition group Al-Wefaq to organize a “human chain” protest in Manama, BNA state news agency said.

The security chief said the location for the protest, which had been planned to take place outside the offices of Al-Wefaq in Zinj, west of Manama, “is not suitable security-wise.”

He said the protest “could cause traffic bottlenecks … while it will be difficult for organizers and security bodies to control the human chain, which might affect the safety of participants and those using the road.”

Bin Daina ordered security measures to ban the event, BNA said.

Al-Wefaq slammed the ban as “illegal” and an “indication of constraints on the freedom of expression,” in a statement posted on its Facebook page.

It said the “human chain for solidarity with the prisoners of conscience and medics” was planned to take place in a secondary road and not on the artery cited in the ban.

Bahrain Tuesday sentenced 14 members of a Shiite opposition party, including its chairman, to up to 10 years in jail for calling for forcible regime change during Shiite-led pro-democracy protests this year, state news agency BNA said.

In two separate cases, nine Shiites were sentenced to 15 years in prison and four to 10 years for kidnapping two policemen, BNA said.

The verdicts handed out by a military court are the latest in a series of lengthy sentences imposed since June on opposition figures and protesters involved in an uprising in February and March for reforms in the Sunni-ruled monarchy.

Bahrain quashed the protests in March, helped by troops from its Sunni neighbors Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

At least 30 people were killed, hundreds wounded and more than 1,000 detained – mostly Shiites – during the uprising and a crackdown that has drawn fire from human rights groups.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 05, 2011, on page 9.




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