Bahrain opposition leaders arrested after violent crackdown on protesters

[JURIST] Six opposition leaders were arrested in Bahrain on Thursday after the government, backed by foreign troops from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) [official website], violently dispersed protesters in the capital of Manana on Wednesday. Among those arrested [NYT report] are dissident Hassan Mushaima and secular party leader Ebrahim Sharif. Six people were killed during the clashes on Wednesday and at least 1,000 people were injured [Al Jazeera report]. Protesters injured in the melee have been denied medical care, and healthcare practitioners were beat [BBC report] for trying to help the injured. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] released a statement [text] on Thursday in which she said:

My office has been receiving desperate calls and emails from numerous individuals in Bahrain, terrified about the armed forces' intentions. There are reports of arbitrary arrests, killings, beatings of protesters and of medical personnel, and of the takeover of hospitals and medical centers by various security forces. These reportedly include Bahraini police, defense forces and troops from the Gulf Cooperation Council's Peninsula Shield Force. This is shocking and illegal conduct. Police and armed forces must immediately leave healthcare facilities and cease their harassment and intimidation of health professionals.
Pillay called on the government to stop using force against protesters and to facilitate medical treatment for the injured.

On Tuesday, Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa [official website] declared [JURIST report] a three-month state of emergency [decree text, in Arabic] in response to growing unrest in the island nation. The state of emergency comes just days after a group of 22 Bahraini lawmakers, part of an independent pro-government bloc, called Sunday on the King to impose martial law under articles 36 and 123 of the Bahraini Constitution [text, PDF]. Last week, the member states of the GCC, 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 ongoing 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."

 

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