Riot police used tear gas on protesters in Bahrain today, during demonstrations taking place in the days leading up to the Feb. 14 anniversary of the uprising last year, according to AFP.
Hundreds of demonstrators tried to march from Shiite neighborhoods to Pearl Square, the focal point of the protests that took place last year, however, security forces used tear gas and sound grenades against the crowds, said AFP.
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Reuters reported that Sunni ruler King Hamad mocked the opposition in an interview with Der Spiegel, saying, “It's just a case of manners. But when they shout 'Down with the king and up with Khamenei' that's a problem for national unity.” Bahrain’s rulers blame the unrest on fomentation from Iran.
The Shiite opposition’s main demand is that Bahrain’s elected parliament be given the power to form governments. Shiites in the country say they face political and economic marginalization from the Sunni rulers and elite though they make up 70 percent of the population, according to Reuters.
The US State Department said on Sunday that two American women were arrested and deported from Bahrain during the demonstrations, according to CNN. The women, Huwaida Arraf and Radhika Sainath, are human rights lawyers, according to Witness Bahrain, and were pushing for more civilians being allowed to monitor the situation.
An inquiry from an independent commission appointed by King Hamad found that last year’s uprising led to the deaths of 35 people, including five security personnel, said AFP.
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