Bahrain regime kills teenager

Bahraini pro-democracy demonstrators. Jailed activist Nabeel Rajab has more than 185,000 Twitter followers

From the BBC:

14 February 2013 Last updated at 08:57 GMT

Teenager killed in Bahrain anniversary protests

A teenage boy in Bahrain has been shot dead during protests to mark the second anniversary of a failed uprising.

Anti-government demonstrators have set up road blocks and clashed with members of the security forces.

Opposition groups have called for a strike – calling on people not to go shopping, fill up on petrol or make any financial transactions.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International has called for the release of what it calls Bahrain’s “prisoners of conscience”.

The call by the human rights organisation comes on the anniversary of a protest movement that has led to two years of unrest and violence.

Mr BBC, did the non violent pro-democracy protest movement lead “to two years of unrest and violence”? Or, rather, the dictatorial regime’s violent reaction to it?

More than two dozen activists remain behind bars in Bahrain, including several sentenced to life imprisonment.

Amnesty said: “It’s time that people detained for exercising their right to freedom of expression be released.”

Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui said: “The government of Bahrain cannot carry on imprisoning people simply because it can’t take criticism.”

He added: “Many of the allegations put forward by the prisoners of conscience have still not been investigated by the authorities.”

‘Charges wrong’

Last month the group conducted a research trip to Bahrain where it met seven prisoners of conscience detained in Jaw prison in the capital, Manama.

They included Nabeel Rajab, given a two-year sentence for encouraging “illegal gatherings.”

Mr Rajab is quoted as telling the Amnesty researchers he was warned by prison authorities not to speak in English.

“The punishment for disobeying would be solitary confinement. I was also threatened for … talking about human rights,” he told them.

Mr Rajab, head of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, has been a leader of the pro-democracy protests which have rocked the kingdom since February 2011.

The 48-year-old is also one of the most well-known activists in the Arab world, with more than 185,000 followers on Twitter.

Another jailed activist, Mahdi’ Issa Mahdi Abu Deeb, a teachers’ trade union leader who has been in jail since his arrest in 2011, told Amnesty he and a fellow accused were not agitating against Bahrain’s rulers.

“As for the charges against me and Jalila [Jalila al-Salman, a fellow teachers’ union leader and mother of three], no one thinks they are right: we did not call for the fall of the regime – we are people in the education system.”

Bahrain silent

On 14 February 2011, peaceful protesters took over an iconic Bahraini monument, Pearl Roundabout. Three days later security forces cleared the site using tear gas, batons and birdshot.

At least two protesters died and hundreds were injured.

As violence escalated 35 people, including five police officers, were killed, hundreds more were hurt and thousands jailed in February and March 2011.

The vast majority were Shia Muslims in a country ruled by a minority Sunni royal family.

Since then, opposition and human rights activists say another 45 people have been killed, a figure which the government disputes.

Although many people have been released, 13 activists and politicians including the leader of the secular Waad party, Ibrahim Sharif, remain in jail.

They have been convicted and in some cases given life sentences on evidence that is widely accepted to have been obtained under torture.

No one from the Bahraini government was available to comment on Amnesty’s charges.

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