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BAHRAIN

Accusations of brutality straddle Bahraini divide

2 min

 Although the Shiite protest movement in Bahrain has always asserted its peaceful, non-violent nature, not everyone in the small Gulf state agrees. Stories of anti-government protesters attacking policemen and foreigners are circulating on the Web, and one of our Observers says she witnessed a policeman being savagely murdered.

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Screenshot of a video posted on YouTube, allegedly of a Bahraini policeman run over and beaten to death by anti-government protesters.

 

Although the Shiite protest movement in Bahrain has always asserted its peaceful, non-violent nature, not everyone in the small Gulf state agrees. Stories of anti-government protesters attacking policemen and foreigners are circulating on the Web, and our Observer says she witnessed a policeman being savegely murdered.

 

Thousands of Bahraini Shiites renewed their pro-democracy protests on Friday, March 18, defying martial law declared on Tuesday. After initially making some concessions to try to appease the protest movement, the Sunni monarchy launched a military intervention backed by Saudi troops on Wednesday, March 16, to put down a month-long Shiite-led uprising, using tanks and helicopters to drive protesters from the streets.

 

The UN denounced “shocking and illegal” abuses by security forces on Thursday, warning that reported takeovers of hospitals and medical facilities were a “blatant violation of international law”.

 

Although Shiites account for 75 percent of the kingdom’s approximately 800,000 residents, government control has long rested in the hands of a Sunni monarch, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. For years, Bahrain has favoured the immigration of Sunnis from other countries. In order to increase Sunni numbers, immigrants are offered jobs as policemen or soldiers. Protesters say systemic discrimination in Bahrain has impoverished Shiites for decades.

 

Video posted on YouTube on March 17 by Bahrainz.

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