Protester Killed in Bahrain “Day of Rage”; Anti-Government Demonstrations in Iran & Yemen
Police violently dispersed an anti-government demonstration in the Persian Gulf emirate of Bahrain today, firing tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters demanding jobs and more freedom. Reuters reports one person has been killed and 20 injured, one critically, in the Shiite villages that surround the capital city of Manama. Bahrain’s king, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, had offered every Bahraini family a $2,650 payment in an attempt to thwart today’s demonstrations, but thousands of people took to the streets in towns and villages across the small country.
Bahrain, where a Sunni Muslim minority rules over a Shiite majority, had been preparing for this “Day of Rage” since last week, when anti-government demonstrations brought down the 30-year regime of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. But protesters here say their goal is not the removal of the king. “We don’t want to overthrow the ruling family, we just want to have our say,” one demonstrator told Reuters.
In the village of Daih, a 22-year-old man died from bullet wounds to the back, and another protester is in critical condition with a fractured skull. In Diraz, “there were 2,000 sitting in the street voicing their demands when police started firing,” one protester told Reuters. Here is YouTube video of police attacking demonstrators in Diraz:
Meanwhile, across the Persian Gulf in Iran, anti-government protesters clashed with security forces today as thousands marched in the capital city of Tehran. According to al-Jazeera, several people have been wounded by police gunfire and are being treated in a Tehran hospital. Up to 10,000 security forces had been deployed to stop protesters from entering Azadi Square, where several different marches planned to converge.
Protests also broke out in the city of Isfahan, with dozens of demonstrators reportedly arrested there.
The protests were reportedly organized on the social media website Facebook and were reminiscent of the 2009 uprising that followed the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
What will happen next is still anyone’s guess. As night fell on Tehran, demonstrators were still out in the streets, chanting anti-government slogans and setting fire to dumpsters and barricades. A favorite slogan: “Mubarak, Ben Ali, now it’s Khamenei’s turn,” referring to the ousted Egyptian and Tunisian dictators and their own Islamic fundamentalist ruler.
In Yemen, protesters clashed with police and crowds loyal to the dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has ruled the country for more than 32 years. Demonstrators shouted “After Mubarak, Ali” as they continued protests that began over the weekend. Thousands of Yemenis are involved; police used tear gas in an attempt to disperse the crowds. According to the Reuters and the BBC, “government loyalists armed with broken bottles, daggers and stones chased the protesters.” A BBC correspondent and his cameraman were also attacked by police.
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