Police disperse marchers on anniversary of uprising
Protesters seeking to mark the one-year anniversary of a popular uprising with a march to the Bahraini capital's iconic Pearl Square were dispersed by police on Tuesday, a day after marchers in Manama were met with teargas.
AFP - Bahraini police dispersed protesters who made several attempts Tuesday to mark the anniversary of last year's uprising by marching to the site of the protest that was brutally crushed, witnesses said.
Several protests took off from Shiite villages on the outskirts of Manama, with youth trying to reach the capital's former Pearl Square, where democracy demonstrators camped for a month last year before being forcefully driven out.
Protesters marched from Sanabis, Deih and Jidhafs, which lie few kilometres (miles) west of Manama, despite police warning that protests would be dispersed, witnesses said.
"Down with (King) Hamad!" they chanted.
The Coalition of the Youth of February 14th Revolution, a hardline group that operates separate from the political opposition led by Al-Wefaq, declared Tuesday the day to return to the square that was razed after the mid-March crackdown.
"All of us are returning" to the square, read a call for protest posted on its Facebook page, designating 6:40 am (0340 GMT) as the starting time.
The coalition posted footage of youth dressed in white Islamic death shrouds running through some alleys claiming they were heading to the square that is heavily protected by security forces.
It also posted a picture of women dressed in traditional black abayas (cloaks) standing close to the square flashing the victory sign.
Activists have called for demonstrations on Monday and Tuesday at the square.
But the Al-Wefaq-led alliance of opposition groups said Monday following a large protest organised outside Manama that although Pearl Square has "become a symbol" for protest, it is not the only one, clearly distancing itself from the call to return.
"All squares and streets of the country are sites that we use to renew our vows to press ahead in our struggle to achieve our demands," including a powerful parliament, representative government and redrawn "fair" electoral constituencies, it said.
Bahraini security forces, boosted by Gulf troops that rolled in from neighbouring Saudi Arabia, quelled the month-long protest that appeared to take a cue from Arab Spring uprisings.
The death toll from last year's unrest was 35, including five security personnel and five detainees tortured to death while in custody, an international probe found last November.
But Amnesty International said "at least a further 20 have died since" in protests because of the continued use of excessive force by security personnel.