The security presence in Manama was so intense on Tuesday that protesters were unable to reach Pearl Square. Instead, they were forced to hold marches and rallies in areas near the iconic roundabout, and in villages on the outskirts of the capital, where some clashes were reported.
“There are riot police and military vehicles staked out at the entrances to towns”
The government made it impossible for a lot of people to go out and protest today. The police have laid siege to Pearl Square. There’s been a steady security presence there for the last nine months, but the government has increased the number of police and soldiers because of the one year anniversary.
Security forces have also bolstered their presence in villages in the area to keep people from trying to reach Manama. There are riot police and military vehicles staked out at the entrances to various towns. They have even been using teargas to discourage people from leaving. Sometimes they throw it into homes – I just spoke with my family who said their house had been targeted by a teargas attack. The police use it unwisely and excessively, as though they were using it against insects instead of human beings.
Personally, it wasn’t important for me to retake Pearl Square and I had planned on participating in other marches because I don’t want to see any more bloodshed. However, there are many young protesters who want to because they were so brutally kicked out last year and because it is their constitutional right to protest wherever they want. For them, it is a question of dignity.
For the last year, we’ve been demonstrating, and nothing has changed. In fact, the repression in Bahrain has gotten worse. It’s clear that the government doesn’t have any intention of addressing any of the opposition’s demands. But we’re not tired and we haven’t lost sight of our goal. We still want a freely elected government”.