Bahraini regime forces attack pro-Qassim protesters south of Manama

A Bahraini patrol car drives along a street during an anti-regime protest in al-Eker village, south of the capital Manama, on June 8, 2017.

Bahraini regime forces have engaged in clashes with a group of people protesting verdicts passed on prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim as the ruling Al Khalifah dynasty continues with its heavy-handed crackdown against political dissidents in the Persian Gulf kingdom.

On Thursday night, dozens of people took to the streets in al-Eker village south of the capital Manama, vowing to support the 77-year-old Sheikh Qassim, the spiritual leader of the country’s dissolved Shia opposition group al-Wefaq National Islamic Society.

Regime forces then intervened and fired stun grenades and tear gas canisters to disperse the crowd. There were no reports of casualties or arrests.

On May 21, a Bahraini court convicted Sheikh Qassim of illegal collection of funds and money laundering and sentenced him to one year in jail suspended for three years.

It also ordered him to pay $265,266 in fines. The court ruling sparked widespread demonstrations across the kingdom.

Bahraini authorities stripped the cleric of his citizenship on June 20, 2016. They later dissolved the Islamic Enlightenment Institution, founded by him, in addition to the opposition al-Risala Islamic Association.

US President Donald Trump (R) and Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah shake hands during a meeting at a hotel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on May 21, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Manama regime has stepped up crackdown on political dissent in the wake of US President Donald Trump's meeting with Bahraini monarch King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah during a summit in the Saudi capital city of Riyadh last month.

Less than 48 hours after the US president left Saudi Arabia, Bahraini regime troops attacked supporters of Sheikh Qassim, in the northwestern village of Diraz, killing at least five people and arresting 286 others. Reports said 19 policemen were also injured in the clashes.

The London-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy said Trump “effectively gave Hamad a blank check to continue the repression of his people.”

Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the country in mid-February 2011.

They are demanding that the Al Khalifah dynasty relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.

Manama has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist Bahrain in its crackdown.

Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown.

On March 5, Bahrain’s parliament approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals in a measure blasted by human rights campaigners as being tantamount to imposition of an undeclared martial law countrywide.

King Hamad ratified the constitutional amendment on April 3.


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