Tags: Bahrain | uprising

Bahrain Arrests 29 as Uprising's Start Remembered

Friday, 14 Feb 2014 10:41 AM

MANAMA, Bahrain — Bahrain announced the arrest of 29 people as anti-government protesters tried to converge in the capital on Friday to mark the third anniversary of the uprising in the small Gulf island nation.

Recent efforts by the Sunni monarchy of the kingdom, an American ally that hosts the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, to revive reconciliation talks with opposition leaders have failed to quell the unrest.

Anti-government activists frequently clash with police in the mainly Shiite villages just beyond the modern skyscrapers and shopping malls of the capital, Manama.

Hundreds of youths attempted Friday to get to Pearl Square in the capital, Manama, which was a protest hub at the center of the movement that started on February 14, 2011. The square was cleared by police raids and later razed in the early weeks of the unrest and is now sealed off by security forces.

Some of the youths marching Friday were seen carrying Bahraini flags, while others were masked and held unlit Molotov cocktails or metal rods. Police used tear gas to prevent them from getting near the former protest grounds.

On Thursday, the eve of the anniversary, 29 were arrested over "rioting and vandalism" in villages outside Manama, the Interior Ministry said.

Anti-government activists blocked roads to villages outside the capital with debris and smeared oil on the pavement to try to prevent security forces from entering. A car was burned by protesters and a school bus carrying children was attacked by "Molotov-throwing thugs," the ministry alleged.

Opposition groups dominated by the country's majority Shiites began protesting in 2011 to seek greater political rights from the country's rulers. More than 65 people have died in the unrest, but rights groups and others place the death toll higher.

Neighboring Sunni-ruled Gulf countries, led by Saudi Arabia, sent troops to Bahrain to help quell the uprising.

Repeated rounds of political talks have failed to significantly close the rifts between the two sides and the opposition is demanding amnesty for what they claim are more than 3,000 political prisoners held in Bahraini prisons.

Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa met with top opposition leaders last month to once again revive the talks.

"The government is serious about dialogue and hope all others are also serious," government spokeswoman Sameera Rajab told The Associated Press.

The main Shiite bloc al-Wefaq and other opposition groups see the negotiations as a positive step but have said their success depends on steps toward greater power sharing in the kingdom.

But many activists in the streets have taken a harder line, calling for the toppling of the government and at times clashing violently with police.

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MiddleEast
Bahrain announced the arrest of 29 people as anti-government protesters tried to converge in the capital on Friday to mark the third anniversary of the uprising in the small Gulf island nation.
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2014-41-14
Friday, 14 Feb 2014 10:41 AM
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