Three women raise victory signs as they walk to Pearl Roundabout in Bahrain
See also Syria Opinion: Who Are the Real Opposition? br>
Bahrain Special: "Responsible Reaction"--- How Police Will "Kettle" Today's Demonstrations br>
Tuesday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: The Shelling of Homs Continues br>
Monday's Bahrain, Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: "The Reasonable Reaction to Provocation"
0040 GMT: Today has been a day of opposition spirit and regime suppression. Policing has been excessive, often reckless and antagonistic. As a consequence, it has angered many who believed in the possibilities of a peaceful return to Pearl Roundabout, or at least the chance for a peaceful expression of grievances. It has also worked to further the divide between the opposition and the supporters of the regime, risking entrenching a split formed increasingly along sectarian lines
Today has also been a day when Bahrain was on the lips of many in the media across the world. The anniversary meant that many paid attention --- and many seemed shocked by what they saw. The reality on the ground in Bahrain cuts so deeply against the grain of the narrative typically presented --- and often paid for by public relations firms --- today became an occasion for raising questions that have long gone unasked in mainstream discourse: What is really happening in Bahrain? Why isn't more being done to stop the suffering? Is the "West" being two-faced in its differing treatment of Bahrain and Syria? The media coverage carried many hang-ups from past reporting, not least the sectarian framing of the situation where the opposition (and by inference their demands) is described as entirely "Shia". However, there is hope that with continued focus, the difference between spin and actuality will become clearer to many.
Tomorrow is another day. Without question, the spirit of the opposition will continue to call for democracy and human rights, and once again take to the streets. One can only hope that, with February 14th over for another year, the world will not look away once again.
2355 GMT: A source in Sanabis reports that there were a lot of "serious" injuries today. Aside from those reportedly thrown from rooftops, these injuries allegedly include:
- A man with a fractured foot after being beaten by police with a baton
- A man who was shot in the chest with bird shot
- A man who was badly beaten by security forces on his back
The source also reports that tear gas was once again fired directly into peoples homes and the helicopters only left the village around midnight.
2350 GMT: A Bahraini who was active on the frontlines of todays protests gives EA this first-hand account of what they observed today. (Note: "mercenaries" refers to security forces):
The first march toward Lulu square began at 7am from Sanabis village, which is less than 1km away from Lulu Square. The mercenaries immediately fired shotguns (tear gas used later) and several protesters/marchers were injured. Then at 3pm, another march was attempted but by cars. The highway was blocked by police so people got off their cars and began chanting (many walked toward the square and got arrested). The mercenaries saved themselves the trouble of distinguishing between those who were heading to the square and those who were just passing by. They simply shot at all cars randomly! A guy I met was shot by a sound bomb while he was actually driving (he had the windows opened). Luckily the bomb exploded before it reached him so he only got minor burns.
Till this point, no molotovs were thrown onto the mercenaries because there were too many mercenaries shooting so no body could get into the throwing range.
Then the protesters had to back off to their villages, where they could barricade themselves. Initially the mercenaries (quite a lot of them) came on foot firing on everything on their way but eventually protesters managed to threw molotovs on them. The resistance today was remarkable.
Then came a new surprise (it was around 4:30pm). Armored vehicles began to attack, driving like crazy and smashing the barricades that protesters deployed for protection! However, it seems the armored vehicles have weak points and we figured them out pretty quickly. They are relatively slow and can't make quick turns (compared with 4x4 Jeeps). Besides, the driver doesn't seem to see the outside very well and has to rely on another guy (on top of the vehicle) for guidance. The AVs became rather easy targets for Molotovs! Personally, I witnessed 5 armoured vehicles attempting to run over a few protesters (luckily they managed to escape). This happened around 8:30pm.
At least one protestor lost his eye due to bird shot pellets. Will find out more tomorrow.
Tomorrow is going to be another busy day for us and them.
2345 GMT: John Horne takes over the live blog to close the days coverage.
Earlier, we posted an image of a serious injury allegedly sustained when a young man was thrown off a roof. Two separate sources have now confirmed that this was the case. Furthermore, they suggest that security forces threw two others from the roof. One was subsequently arrested, whilst the whereabout of the third remains unknown.
2121 GMT: A source in Bahrain forwards us this GRAPHIC PICTURE which they say shows a serious wound that was received when a police officer threw someone out a 3rd-story window. EA Correspondent John Horne adds, "if true, this is a concerning development. A similar allegation was made Sunday, when police allegedly threw a young man from a first floor foor and then shot at the women who tried to help him."
1923 GMT: The story in Bahrain is not all about violence, however. This video, shared with us by a correspondent in Bahrain, shows the large amount of peaceful protesters who were trying to reach Pearl Roundabout earlier but couldn;t make it because the roads were blocked by police:
1812 GMT: Anti-riot vehicles race through Sanabis, but one of them gets hit by a molotov cocktail:
1804 GMT: Anti-riot vehicles race through tear gas in Jidhafs earlier today, but here's a question - with no immediate threat, is it safe to drive this quickly in a residential neighborhood filled with sight-obscuring gasses?:
An EA correspondent shares another video from Jidhafs - these vehicles don't appear to be shooting these teargas canisters at any specific target:
1756 GMT: There are likely to be multiple injuries sustained across Bahrain today. This will be a consequence of both police action and the retaliation against police by some protesters.
The injuries below were sustained today in Sanabis, from police attacking protesters:
An untold story in this, however, is the fact that whilst any injured police officers will receive full hospital medical care, protesters --- and even injured civilians caught up in the violence --- will likely be to terrified to seek treatment. Over recent weeks and months, ad-hoc field hospitals have been set up across villages in Bahrain, with doctors and nurses on call to treat any injury. This ranges from individuals who have been shot with tear gas cannisters, rubber bullets or birdshot, to everyday individuals who are suffering from tear gas inhalation, but worry that they will be reported to the authorities if they sought hospital treatment.
WARNING: Image may be disturbing to some viewers.
1737 GMT: EA Correspondent John Horne reports:
A source sends this video from Karrana village. It shows, initially, police running away from charging youths. One policeman trips and is attacked by the young men. The officer wrestles free and fires off a shot of tear gas, before rejoining his colleagues. The video, edited with a "Down Down Hamad" soundtrack, is likely to be widely circulated both by those keen to show resistance against the police, and by those who argue that the opposition are comprised of violent, dangerous, youths.
1707 GMT: A protest took place this afternoon outside the British Prime Minister's residence at 10 Downing Street in London, expressing solidarity with the demonstrations in Bahrain. Shehab Hashem uploaded this picture:
1700 GMT: Reports indicate that heavily armoured vehicles have entered many villages across Bahrain, preventing residents from leaving. In some cases, this has gone far beyond containment of protests, with vehicles firing upon demonstrators and civilians. There is also widespread and indiscriminate tear gas use reported in multiple villages. Sources in Sanabis say that police have been going door to door, searching for people involved in the earlier protests.
There are currently lots of problem with both electricity supplies and internet connections across Bahrain, making it difficult to get information out of villages.
1640 GMT: An EA Correspondent, on his way to the protest called for by the 14 February Coalition at the Alkharitah intersection, near the US embassy, posts this video - security on the Budayya highway.
1618 GMT: Bahraini activists Nabeel Rajab and Said Yousif Almuhafda have been released from police custody. Both were detained earlier along with a small group of Americans who have joined the protests. The Americans appear to still be in custody. We're not entirely sure of the status of the other Bahrainis who may have been arrested along with the two opposition leaders.
We are awaiting an official report, either from Rajab, Almuhafda, and/or the Bahraini governments.
1608 GMT: Yesterday, perhaps the biggest news was on the international front. The US State Department, citing concerns about the slow pace of reform and the intolerable security situation on the streets, put on hold a $53 million arms deal with the Bahraini government. Well, The Guardian notes that the UK has not followed suit, and they also frame the impending arms sales the way that EA would - with today's protests and clashes as a prime example of how the police response to the crisis in Bahrain is not acceptable:
According to the figures the government approved the sale of military equipment valued at more than £1m in the months following the violent crackdown on demonstrators a year ago. They included licenses for gun silencers, weapons sights, rifles, artillery, and components for military training aircraft.
Also cleared for export to Bahrain between July and September last year were exports of naval guns and components for detecting and jamming improvised explosive devices. No export licences were refused.
Security forces in Bahrain fired teargas and stun grenades at protestors in pre-dawn skirmishes ahead of Tuesday's first anniversary of the uprising in the Gulf kingdom. Armoured vehicles patrolled the capital Manama in a security clampdown after protesters flung volleys of petrol bombs at police cars. There was also a massive police presence in Shia Muslim villages ringing Manama, with helicopters buzzing overhead, underlining the concerns of the Sunni Muslim-led monarchy about a new explosion of civil unrest by Bahrain's disgruntled Shia majority.
1600 GMT: A source sends us this picture taken earlier today showing the armoured vehicles occupying Pearl Roundabout, with a lone soldier on patrol:
1549 GMT: An EA correspondent in Bahrain reports that the opposition is calling for a "Plan B."
The 14 February Coalition made a surprise call now for people to gather near "Alkharitah" intersection, another location far away from martyrs square - and it's near the American Embassy!!!
1540 GMT: Maryam AlKhawaja reports that Nabeel Rajab has been arrested and is being held in Al Hoora prison. According to sources, the last tweet sent by Rajab, about awaiting the lawyer for a girl who was also arrested, was about a girl who was arrested along with Rajab.
1525 GMT: There remains some confusion about the whereabouts of Bahraini opposition leader Nabeel Rajab. According to Maryam Alkhawaja, a leading activist, the family of Rajab is saying that he is still detained. Also, multiple activists have been unable to reach him, and our correspondents have been unable to reach him.
There have not been any Tweets sent from Rajab's Twitter account for nearly an hour. In the past, he has had other activists Tweet for him when he was arrested.
We'll keep following the developments.
1459 GMT: Simeon Kerr of the Financial Times
A source from Sanabis sends us this video of the vehicles arriving:
1452 GMT: An EA correspondent in Bahrain reports that the police closed all the road leading into "Martry Square," also known as the Pearl Roundabout, and many arrests have been made:
A friend just called me, he's stuck on the road were police set a check point. They are taking people out from their cars and arresting them!.
He might be arrested!!
Ok, he's safe. He told me that the police stopped about 30 to 40 guys took them our from their cars and The police made them stop in a group, then started shooting teargas at them from short a distance, forcing the guys to run away.
Our correspondent also adds this picture, some of the arrests being made near the square:
1427 GMT: EA's John Horne carries a report from a correspondent that armored vehicles are now in Sanabis. Tear gas there is excessive with police allegedly "shooting it into houses"
Activist Maryam Alkhawaja tweets of reports that citizens in Mugsha have had their electricity cut off following "random excessive shooting" by police which damaged the main electricity box.
The Ministry of Interior reports further arrests:
Rioters arrested for blocking traffic on SH Khalifa bin Salman Rd. Proper procedures taken to refer them to Pub[lic] Prosecution
1338 GMT: Activist Dominic Kavakeb tweets that he is hearing reports "suggesting Police are containing people in villages using heavy presence and armoured vehicles". Whilst unconfirmed, this does match with the heavy police presence we have been tracking in Sanabis and John Yates' call for using "kettling" and "containment" of protesters.
Our correspondent in Sanabis updates:
Shooting black tear gas onto roofs now. They don't care if children are there or not!
Immediately before the teargas attack near Nabeel Rajab, an EA correspondent sent us this picture of armored vehicles massing near the village gate leading to Sitra:
Nabeel rajab and crowd walking down highway to #lulu roundabout
Police just fired volley of teargas rounds directly at nabeelrajab and protesters and press, passing cars, everyone fled into cars
Cannisters whistled by our heads, bounced off cars. This near the now heavily fortified pearl
They also chased everyone down road, firing straight at ppl fleeing
An EA correspondent adds these details, and shares
According to an eye witness Nabeel was seen walking near martyrs sq with some reporters Police stopped him now and 4 officers are surrounding him at the moment.
EA's correspondent reported that tear gas was fired when Nabeel refused to leave, but eventually "Nabeel left the place now in his car."
1324 GMT: There are now reports that police in Bahrain were talking with Nabeel Rajab, but allowed him to get into his car and leave.
These details are coming quickly, so stay tuned.
1314 GMT: There are multiple reports that Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab has been arrested. This news was also reported by an EA correspondent in Bahrain, who is following up. More details coming soon.
Moments ago, this picture was posted by an activist showing Rajab marching towards Pearl Roundabout:
1258 GMT: An EA correspondent updates John Horne on the situation in Sanabis:
Helicopter circling non stop. Navy armoured tanks [vehicles] driving up and down road at back of a Sanabis. Youths have roads blocked with wood and are keeping watch on roads. Police on foot shooting tear gas. Everyone out on roofs.
James Miller takes over the live coverage.
1238 GMT: EA's John Horne summarises news that, to mark the anniversary of the Bahrain uprising, hacker group Anonymous launched #OperationBahrain for 13 to 15 February. The operation calls for a series of websites, including many connected to the Bahrain government, to be attacked and taken down.
The main government site --- Bahrain.bh --- is currently unavailable. The website of Combined Systems, accused of selling tear gas to regimes seeking to suppress the Arab Spring,has also been attacked.
The Bahraini government's promised reforms have meant little so far for Taha al-Derazi, one of the country's leading neurosurgeons, who has spent the last nine months wondering if he'll ever be allowed to return to work.
Al-Derazi was suspended from his job in May, allegedly because of his political activism last year, though he says he never attended any protests while he was on duty. He was one of countless medical workers targeted by security forces, though he managed to avoid being arrested, unlike dozens of his colleagues. “They [the police] say it’s because they saw our pictures in the demonstrations in Pearl Roundabout,” he said.
Now he is forbidden to even visit colleagues at Salmaniya Medical Complex, the main hospital in Bahrain.
“At our hospital we have only two neurosurgeons, and both of us are suspended, so it has become very difficult for the patients,” Al-Derazi said. “They don’t know where to go.”
Al-Derazi is one of more than 4,000 Bahraini workers who were suspended or sacked for political reasons last year. The independent government commission which studied last year's unrest concluded that the sackings violated Bahraini law, and that Shia employees were often singled out for termination because of their sect.
Bahrain's labour ministry says, according to official statistics released earlier this month, that all but 179 of the dismissed workers have now returned to their jobs....
[But] a closer reading of the government figures reveals that less than half of the 2,462 dismissed workers have actually returned to their jobs. And those figures only cover the private sector; an estimated 850 public sector workers are also still unemployed.
1144 GMT: Huwaida Arraf and Radhika Sainath, two American activists detained and deported from Bahrain last weekend, tell Democracy Now! about their experience and observations:
EA's John Horne picks up this passage about the US Embassy's support of the Bahraini regime in the seizure of the video and still cameras and computers of the activists:
HUWAIDA ARRAF: And I want to also make a comment on the role of the U.S., the U.S. administration. When we were in detention, the representative of the U.S. embassy did come visit us. And one thing that the police forces wanted to do is to take away all of our equipment, and they did, by force. But the American embassy representative was relaying that to us, in that they have a right to take away our equipment.
And I said to her, "Well, our footage, we are documenting—we did interviews with people that had been tortured, with leaders of the pro-democracy movement, and I am very worried that this footage and this documentation is going to be used to target these activists. And you know what a horrible human rights record the Bahrain administration has. So I’m asking you, I’m asking the American government, to do something to make sure that the Bahraini government will not use the equipment and the material that they confiscate from me in order to target human rights activists." And the response was, "Well, we’ll put your request through." And then there was nothing. And actually. the representative said, "Well" — she said to me, "Well, you took that chance, you know, with filming these things."
And so, I’m really horrified because, you know, the U.S. government talks about a respect for human rights and democracy, and yet they wouldn’t do something basic as take some kind of measure to make sure that what the government was going to take from us from force wouldn’t be used to target and possibly torture more democracy activists.
RADHIKA SAINATH: And just to add to that, they confiscated both of our laptops, Huwaida’s video camera, digital camera, iPad....
HUWAIDA ARRAF: Phones.
RADHIKA SAINATH: ....cell phones, BlackBerry --- everything that we have. And it’s still in Bahraini custody, and they’ve refused to turn it over. And, you know, some of that equipment has photographs of human rights activists, phone numbers, other things. And we’re very concerned about how that’s going to be used by the government of Bahrain.
1133 GMT: Update from an EA correspondent in Bahrain:
I am on the roof watching police at entrance to Sanabis swinging iron rods! Bahrain now full of people on roof shouting Allah Akhbar.
1105 GMT: A house in fire on Abusaiba after it was hit by a tear gas canister:
1035 GMT: An EA correspondent in Bahrain follows up on the video of an attack by protesters on a Sitra police station (see 0918 GMT).
The protesters, armed with Molotov cocktails, were angered by news that police had beaten and arrested two girls, aged 13 and 15. Lawyers for the girls have now gone to the police station to file a complaint.
0946 GMT: An EA correspondent in Bahrain reports that the 14 February Coalition is telling protesters to pull back until 3 p.m. (1200 GMT).
Police seize a protester in Aldaih:
0928 GMT: An EA correspondent checks in from Bahrain:
Was in house in Sanabis with injured woman. Police broke her door and shot tear gas at her foot. [She has] two broken toes.
Sitra causeway closed and village is under attack. Women and children cannot leave for safety.
Armoured vehicles at the Bahrain International Exhibition Centre near Sanabis village:
0918 GMT: Claimed footage of youth, angered by a security forces' assault on Sanabis village this morning, attacking a police station in Sitra with Molotov cocktails:
Women shouting "Allahu Akbar" after the raid in Sanabis:
0913 GMT: Armoured vehicles moving around Pearl Roundabout in Bahrain:
A woman walks amidst tear gas in Saar:
0845 GMT: Bahraini protesters try to reach Pearl Roundabout from Alzinj village:
Photos spread across the Internet support the claim.
Protesters scattering, amidst tear gas, before reaching Pearl Roundabout in Bahrain:
0829 GMT: Bahrain's Ministry of Interior puts out the line: "Police Media Directorate cautions against believing news on dubious TV channels that may attempt to mislead the public. Police Media Dir says roads in #Bahrain are clear situations are normal. MOI reminds public to get trusted information from official sources."
Meanwhile, the regime's leadership, including Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa and Crown Prince Salman have said, "Those seeking to drive the country into a 'dark tunnel' would not succeed."
0820 GMT: The first moments of a march from AlDaih to Pearl Roundabout --- the flags have the logo of the 14 February Coalition:
0810 GMT: Nabeel Rajab, the head of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, has put out the message via Twitter: "Join me at 3:30pm (1230 GMT). We drive to Martyrs Sq (Pearl Roundabout), park our cars, and run to Martyrs Sq, from all directions."
0720 GMT: Activists have posted the names of 11 more people whom they claim have been arrested in Bahrain today: Hamad Hassan Jaffer, Ahmed Jafar Holiday, Aqeel Farhood, Isa Abdullah Abdullah, Abdullah Hassan Abbas, Yusuf Mohamed Hassan, Sharif, Abdullah Makki, Ali Farid, Sayed Mohammed Jawad, and Ali Salman Ibrahim Al-Hadar.
Two other men were reportedly detained earlier this morning, trying to reach Pearl Roundabout (see 0620 GMT).
0700 GMT: An EA correspondent writes from Bahrain:
Young boy arrested in Sanabis. Young woman goes to police to get him back, says, "We will bring his passport." Police say, "Yes --- Iran passport."
The young boy was not protesting, just standing outside his home.
Heavy shooting in sanabis now again. Tear gas.
Anonymous also reportedly took over the homepages of companies manufacturing tear gas used by Bahraini security forces.The website of Combined System is still down.
0620 GMT: EA correspondent in Bahrain have been sending reports this morning. One wrote, "It is 6 a.m. (0300 GMT). Police shooting heavy in sanabis, helicopter out. We are heading now to Lulu (Pearl Roundabout)." Within the last hour, the correspondent --- not able to reach the Roundabout, sent the message, "Still at house. My friend gone out to help young men that have been attacked. Tear gas strong in Sanabis. Can hear shooting."
Two protesters, with Bahraini flags, set out for Pearl Roundabout --- Mohammed AlHaiki and Mohammed Jaffar have reportedly been arrested:
0600 GMT: To be honest, we did not appreciate the significance of what was going to happened a year ago today in the Bahraini capital Manama.
We were occupied most of the day with coverage of protests in Iran, so it was only at 1845 GMT that we noted, "We will have a full round-up later tonight or in the morning, but here is footage of the suppression of a demonstration in Duraz in Bahrain today."
At the end of the day, we wrote, "In Bahrain, eyewitnesses said one protester ((Ali Mushaimaa) was killed as police in fired teargas and rubber bullets to break up pro-reform demonstrations. As helicopters circled over Manama, more than 20 people were hurt, one of them critically, in clashes in Shi'ite villages that ring the capital."
By the next day, however, we were recognising that this was more than a limited protest against the rule of the monarchy. Not only were we making regular updates, but we were posting a video and picture feature on "this morning's procession alongside the coffin of a demonstrator killed on Monday, from the gathering [at Pearl Roundabout] to the use of tear gas by police to the continuation of the march".