Iran warns International organizations about protests in Bahrain
Azerbaijan, Baku, Feb. 15 / Trend S.Isayev, T. Jafarov/
Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi sent a message to International organizations, warning them about the situation in Bahrain, Fars reported.
Armored vehicles patrolled Bahrain's capital on Tuesday in a security clampdown to deter protesters after overnight clashes outside Manama on the first anniversary of a forcibly suppressed pro-democracy uprising, according to Reuters.
Salehi expressed concern about the foreign military interventions against peaceful citizens of the country. He noted the International responsibility for the Bahrain situation.
Youths threw petrol bombs at police cars on Tuesday, during skirmishes before dawn, prompting authorities to flood Shi'ite villages around Manama with police reinforcements backed by helicopters. Police fired tear gas at two dozen protesters near the former Pearl Roundabout, focal point of last year's protests, nearly hitting several people as canisters bounced off cars.
Other groups that appeared later were also doused with tear gas and about 30 people in total were arrested, some of them dragged from their cars on apparent suspicion of being protesters aiming to clog up the highway near the roundabout.
Prominent activist Nabeel Rajab, who led the protesters, was detained, as were six American activists in the country as part of a Witness Bahrain group to monitor how police handle demonstrators. The government said in a statement it would deport them. Two others in the group were deported on Sunday after the government said they had entered Bahrain on tourist visas.
"People coming to visit Bahrain need to understand that lying on immigration documents is against the law and they will face the consequences of their actions," an immigration department official was quoted as saying.
Shi'ite protests have intensified before the anniversary of the uprising, when mainly Shi'ite protesters occupied Pearl Roundabout for a month before security forces aided by Saudi troops broke up the movement that was inspired by revolts in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere in the Arab world.
Reportedly, over 100 people were hurt in clashes in Shi'ite villages around the country, as security forces pinned potential protesters in their districts. At least 35 people, including security personnel, died during the protests last year. Security forces have not used live fire since that time.
Bahrain escaped severe international censure for crushing last year's revolt. The Gulf island monarchy is a Western ally, hosting the U.S. Fifth Fleet to counter Shi'ite Iran across the Gulf. Yet the United States suspended a $53 million arms deal until it sees "more progress" by the government on reforms.
February 14 is not only the anniversary of the uprising but also of a 2001 referendum on a national reform charter King Hamad introduced to end a revolt that sputtered through the 1990s. Opposition parties say the constitution promulgated a year later was a disappointment because it neutralized the powers of an elected assembly with an upper house of royal appointees.
Wefaq and other opposition parties, including the secular Waad led by jailed Sunni politician Ibrahim Sharif, want constitutional changes that would give the elected chamber of parliament the authority to form governments.
After last year's unrest, the government granted parliament extra powers of scrutiny over ministers and budgets, but has not budged on the more far-reaching opposition demands. Bahraini authorities have hired U.S. and British police chiefs to help reform policing after revelations about torture and deaths of detainees during last year's crackdown.
Despite the government's professed reform efforts, it has not been enough to convince U.S. lawmakers to unfreeze a planned $53 million arms sale to Bahrain.
Bahrain says it needs the hardware, including armored Humvee vehicles and missiles, to defend itself from Iran, which it accuses of fomenting the revolt to turn Bahrain into an Islamic republic. Iran denies this.