Bahraini protester dies, sparking call for more demos

A man injured when Bahraini police dispersed crowds of anti-government protesters in a village east of Manama has died of his wounds, officials said, sparking calls for a mass turnout at his funeral.

The interior ministry in a statement announced the death of a protester “due to his wounds” and said an inquiry was being held into whether police had resorted to the “unjustified use of arms” in dispersing the protest in Diya.

Witnesses said the protester was wounded on Monday evening during clashes between police and demonstrators in Diya village.

Minister of Interior Sheikh Rashed bin Abdullah al-Khalifa “extends condolences and sympathy to the family of the person who died of sustained injuries in Diya demonstrations”, said a separate ministry statement.

News of his death prompted activists on Tuesday to call on their Facebook page for a vast participation at his funeral and to urge Bahrainis to escalate the protests.

Witnesses said on Monday that demonstrations had taken place in a string of Shi’ite-majority villages, including Darraz and Sanabis, west of Manama, Sitra, east of the capital, and Jed Hafs just to the north, as well as the historic Balad Al-Qadim quarter in the city centre.

Turnout at the rallies ranged between a few dozen and hundreds of people, the witnesses said.

“There were no arrests during the the demonstrations, but the police in some cases clashed with the protesters,” a police official told Agence France-Presse.

Security forces were deployed in force along the main routes into the capital Manama in an effort to prevent a gathering that had been arranged on the internet, mirroring similar online initiatives around the Arab world.

As in other Arab countries, tech-savvy Bahrainis are using the internet to demand that the government create jobs for unemployed young people and increase wages.

Shi’ite-majority Bahrain is ruled by the Sunni Al-Khalifa family of King Hamad, which retains a tight grip on the premiership and key ministries.

In the 1990s, it was plagued by a wave of Shi’ite-led unrest that has abated since 2001 reforms restored the Gulf state’s Parliament.

But the Shi’ite opposition remains aggrieved that the elected house’s legislative powers are shared with an appointed upper house and also accuses the authorities of seeking to change the archipelago’s demographic make-up by naturalising Sunni immigrants. – AFP

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