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Crowd control: Bahrain bans all public gatherings

Published time: October 30, 2012 09:31
Edited time: October 30, 2012 14:43
Anti-government protesters gesture as they march during an anti-government rally held by Wefaq, Bahrain's main opposition party, in Bilad al-Qadeem, west of Manama October 19, 2012. (Reuters/Hamad I Mohammed)

Anti-government protesters gesture as they march during an anti-government rally held by Wefaq, Bahrain's main opposition party, in Bilad al-Qadeem, west of Manama October 19, 2012. (Reuters/Hamad I Mohammed)

Bahraini authorities have prohibited protest gatherings and rallies until further notice, a day after police cracked down heavily on demonstrators, once again during the 20-month fatality-riddled unrest.

­The statement made by the country’s Interior Ministry did not define precise measures that could be taken should new protests occur.

A curfew and special military tribunals were introduced several months into uprising that began in Bahrain in February 2011. AP reported that the early period of the unrest left at least 50 people dead in the violence.

However, Interior Minister Shaikh Rashid Bin Abdullah Al Khalifa stressed that “rallies and gatherings will be considered illegal, and legal action will be taken against anyone calling for or taking part in them.”

The news comes only a day after security forces cracked down on protesters next to the capital, Manama, using teargas and rubber bullets. Demonstrators took to the streets to rally for the release of political prisoners – and against the long-standing rule of the King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

Just under two weeks ago, Bahrain detained four people after they reportedly defamed the King via Twitter. The four were held for seven days pending trial, according to the official Bahrain News Agency. The authorities gave no further details on the suspects or the contents of their tweets. The trial date and the suspects’ fate remain unknown.

One of the most prominent opposition activists in the country, Nabeel Rajab is currently challenging the three-year jail sentence for allegedly encouraging illegal protests and violence in Bahrain via Twitter. His next hearing will take place on November 8.

Another well-known activist, Said Yousif, was arrested in mid-August after speaking out in support of Nabeel Rajab’s detention.

Head of Monitoring in Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Sayed Yousif Almuhafda thinks that the latest measure is simply “an attempt to completely squash [the] people’s uprising. In fact, Bahrain can be called an unfinished segment of the Arab Spring, which has never been allowed [to] flower.”

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