Last updated: 9 December, 2011

Bahrain security forces break up Shiite demonstration

Bahraini security forces on Friday fired tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse hundreds of demonstrators in a Shiite neighbourhood of the capital Manama, the opposition said.

The protesters were heading towards Manama’s Pearl Square, epicentre of an anti-government movement, from the western neighbourhood of Jad Hafs when they were set upon by the security forces, according to Matar Matar, an MP for the Shiite Al-Wefaq opposition.

“Some demonstrators were brutally beaten while others suffered breathing problems due to the tear gas,” he said.

Matar said he was not able to elaborate further on the extent of the injuries as “the wounded prefer not to go to hospital, fearing arrest.”

The demonstration was the second in three days by Shiites in Manama.

On Wednesday, an attempt to march on Pearl Square by protesters from the outlying Shiite village of Al-Daih was similarly broken up by the security forces.

Sunni-ruled Bahrain was rocked by Shiite-led democracy protests between mid-February and mid-March, which were crushed by security forces backed by its Gulf neighbours.

Matar condemned police for continuing to press a violent repression of “peaceful” protests despite criticisms by an independent inquiry of what it found to be human rights abuses perpetrated by Bahrain’s security forces.

The inquiry appointed by King Hamad found that police had used “excessive force” against the Shiite-led demonstrators and had tortured activists.

In the wake of the report, the king last month issued several decrees, including one naming a panel to implement the recommendations of the probe.

The panel held its first meeting on Thursday and adopted a “clear mechanism… in order to expedite the process” of reform, a statement said.

Meanwhile Bahrain’s Information Authority said in a statement Friday that the country has decided to open up its prisons to the International Committee of the Red Cross as part of reforms pledged by the interior ministry.

And Interior Minister Rashed bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa “issued an order to refer all cases related to deaths, torture and inhumane treatment implicating police to the public prosecution,” said the statement.