A group of 22 Bahraini lawmakers on Sunday called on King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa [official website] to declare a state of emergency in response to the latest protests against the monarchy. The lawmakers, members of the pro-government Independent Bloc, called on Khalifa to invoke martial law [BNA report] under articles 36 and 123 of the Bahraini Constitution [text, PDF] and deploy the Bahrain Defense Force to ensure national security and preserve state institutions. The call came after 5,000 protesters demanded an end to the monarch Sunday, following over a month of protests in Bahrain and throughout the Middle East and North Africa [BBC backgrounder]. On Monday, the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) [official website], which includes Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE, deployed troops to Bahrain [BBC report] for the purpose of guarding oil installations and financial institutions.
The Bahraini government's response to the protests have prompted international concern. In February, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] called for an end to violence against protesters [JURIST report] in the country, referencing attempts to quell protests sweeping across the region. Ban said that he is "disturbed by all these violent means of trying to disperse demonstrators, the freedom of expression, freedom of access to information, particularly the journalists." In conjunction, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile], condemned violence by security forces in Libya, Bahrain and Yemen against anti-government demonstrators as illegal and excessively heavy-handed. Pillay also stressed that Bahrain has an obligation to respect human rights as a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [text].