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Saturday
Feb182012

Syria, Bahrain (and Beyond) Live Coverage: The Story Gets Out

The moment that Syrian security forces opened fire on a funeral crowd in Mezzeh in Damascus today

See also Tunisia Feature: Islamists, Faith, and Democracy
Egypt 1st-Hand: Nine Views of a Country's Future
Bahrain Movie: "Tn Tn Ttn" --- The Story of a Horn and Its Resistance
Bahrain 1st-Hand: The Deported Irish Activist's Week on the Island "They Are Slowly Killing These People"
Syria Audio Special: A Resident of Homs Speaks to EA Worldview
Yemen Interview: Nadia Al-Sakkaf "The Revolution Doesn't Relate to Daily Lives"
Friday's Syria, Bahrain (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Two More Anniversaries


2156 GMT: Scenes of clashes in Sitra in Bahrain today --- in the first, a youth is struck by fire from the police:

Youths pursue the security forces, throwing Molotovs:

2146 GMT: The European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton issued a statement today on Palestinian Khader Adnan, on the 63rd day of his hunger strike while in administrative detention in Israel.

Ashton said that the EU is concerned over reports of Adnan's deteriorating health and "the extensive use by Israel of administrative detention without formal charge".

See also Palestine Feature: The Hunger Strike of Khader Adnan

2142 GMT: Reports indicate that Razan Ghazzawi and the other female staff of the Syrian Center for Freedom of Expression in Damascus, arrested on Thursday, have been released. The male staff remain in prison.

2038 GMT: An EA correspondent in Bahrain reported 25 minutes ago, "Clashes went on in many villages until now. (1112 p.m. local time) I left Sitra and could not get back because of the checkpoints. Will try to find a back entrance."

Earlier in Juffair, police reportedly locked the front door of a house threw tear gas inside the window, forcing a family with children to try and leave the house through second floor windows. Youths from the village had to break the front door to get the family out.

2035 GMT: The streets of the Inshaat section of Homs in Syria:

2028 GMT: Another video of the mass funeral protest in Mezzeh in the Syrian capital Damascus, featuring the involvement of women, before it was attacked by security forces:

2020 GMT: Amid the news of village protests and attempts to reach Pearl Roundabout, we had overlooked the "No to Slavery" rally organised by opposition societies Al Wefaq and Wa'ad which they confirmed their demands to move to a democratic kingdom and to release all political prisoners.

Former MP and senior AL Wefaq member Sayed Hadi Almosawi told the crowd that the King must know about the abuses committed by his forces and that he must reach to his people before it is too late.

2013 GMT: News reaches us of another 18 young men who marched to Pearl Roundabout today --- 61 people have reportedly made it to the symbolic centre of the protests before many of them were arrested. A photo of the 18 men before they set off:

1732 GMT: An EA correspondent in Bahrain reports that a mother, who went with her child to Pearl Roundabout, has been arrested. The detainee is Nafeesa AlAsfoor, the aunt of a victim in Ma'ameer who died from inhaling tear gas.

1729 GMT: More footage from Aldair in Bahrain (see top of entry) of clashes between police and protesters, with the exchange of tear gas and Molotov cocktails:

1720 GMT: The trial in Egypt of 43 people accused of improper foreign funding of non-government organsations will take place in a criminal court on 26 February, according to Egyptian State news agency MENA.

The defendants include 19 Americans. In December, the US-funded National Democratic Institute, International Republican Institute, and Freedom House were among 10 NGOs raided by Egyptian authorities.

1540 GMT: Nabeel Rajab, the head of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, has updated on the protest dashes for Pearl Roundabout today (see 1440 GMT) --- 25 men from the village of Bani Jamra attempted to reach the symbolic centre of the challenge to the regime:

1530 GMT: Clashes in Aldair in Bahrain, after police raided the village trying to open a blocked road behind Bahrain International Airport:

1440 GMT: Activists claim that, in less than an hour, 33 protesters made runs for Pearl Roundabout, the centre of last year's demonstrations in Bahrain. All have been detained.

A photograph of three of the men, with the declaration, "Sunni & Shi's brothers, we shall not sell this country":

Another group of seven protesters from Maqabah village --- Mahmood Almaqabi, Ahmed Almaqabi, Ali Atiya, Mohamed Alzaki, Ali Ibrahim, S. Hassan S. Mohsin, and Ali Alzaki:

1410 GMT: Another clip of security forces firing tear gas into the cemetery, during the funeral of 85-year-old Mansor Salman (see 1210 GMT), who reportedly died from tear gas inhalation in Markuban last night:

1400 GMT: Another clip of the thousands of protesters, at a funeral in Mezzeh in Damascus (see 1215 GMT), chanting in the snow and before the attack by security forces, "With our souls and blood, we sacrifice for you, Homs":

1330 GMT: A lengthy clip of the security forces firing on people in Mezzeh in Damascus after a large funeral in the area (see 1215 GMT). Activists claim one person was killed and four people wounded:

Meanwhile, President Assad has met Chinese envoy Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun, telling the visitor, "What Syria is facing is fundamentally an effort to divide it and affect its geopolitical place and historic role in the region."

According to Chinese media, Zhai said Beijing was "deeply concerned by the escalating crisis", adding, "China supports the path of reform taking place in Syria and the important steps that have been taken in this respect."

1235 GMT: Protesters throw Molotov cocktails at police vehicles leaving Almusala village in Bahrain last night:

1225 GMT: Al Jazeera English reports on the claim of Yemeni activists that the Presidential vote on 21 February is a "one-man election" to put Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi into the office:

1215 GMT: Witnesses say Syrian forces opened fire with live ammunition to break up a funeral procession in the Mezzeh section of the Syrian capital Damascus today, wounding at least four people.

Video has been posted claiming to be of a man killed by the gunfire.

The procession was for three youths killed in protests on Friday.

Footage of the massive gathering before the attack by the security forces:

1210 GMT: An EA correspondent in Bahrain reports that the funeral for Mansor Salman (see 1200 GMT) has been attacked by security forces. Claimed footage of tear gas being thrown:

Marchers chanting "Down Down Hamad" before the attack by the security forces:

1200 GMT: Footage of a funeral today in Bahrain for Mansor Salman, who reportedly died from tear gas inhalation last night (see 0750 GMT):

0950 GMT: Police use force and spray to seize a young woman in yesterday's march in Bahrain:

0750 GMT: An EA correspondent in Bahrain reports another claimed death from tear gas inhalation --- 85-year-old Mansor Salman passed away after his home in Markuban was hit during a raid by security forces last night.

0755 GMT: US National Public Radio profiles the Cabinet minister seen as a key actor in the crackdown on non-governmental organisations:

The attacks of Faiza Aboul Naga --- a holdover from the regime of ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak --- have made her a hero to many Egyptians who believe she is defending their country's honor. But the threat she poses to billions of dollars in U.S. aid and international loans could make her power short-lived.

Aboul Naga, minister of planning and international cooperation, has warned Egyptians time and again about what she sees as the danger foreigners pose to her country.

0632 GMT: In Sudan, police raided student dormitories at the University of Khartoum on Friday, beating and arresting more than 350 students.

The youth activist group Change Now said the National Intelligence Security Services stormed the dormitories before dawn.

Students began protesting in late December for compensation for people displaced from homes by construction of a dam near the city of Dammir, 280 kilometres (about 170 miles) northeast of the capital. They also have been calling for the right to form a student union and for an end to police violence.

0630 GMT: Borzou Daragahi offers a mixed picture, a year after the uprising that toppled Muammar Qaddafi, "Libyans Celebrate Amid Uncertainty":

According to a recent poll of Tripoli, Benghazi and Misurata residents by ORB International, four in five believe Libya is moving in the right direction and nearly two-thirds support the actions of the interim government, which has scheduled historic parliamentary elections for June.

"People seem more united," said Salah Alagi, 50, a manager at a machine parts factory in Benghazi. "They want the rule of law. People want to prosper, and they are hopeful that there will be fruits. The main result of the revolution is that we taste freedom."

But the country remains fundamentally unstable primarily because the same militias that led the revolution now act as its semi-autonomous guardians.

Rights activists allege they are wreaking havoc on the country, abducting suspected former regime figures and even engaging in graft. In Benghazi, where protests that were met with gunfire sparked the armed rebellion that led to Gaddafi's forced removal, most urged patience.

"We are still in a transitional period with some chaos but we are hopeful," said Rajab Doghaim, a 51-year-old schoolmaster who came to Friday prayers with his six-year-old daughter, Munia. "You have to understand that the transitional government has a lot on their plate. What appears on the surface is that they try to do their best."

0530 GMT: We begin this morning with stories that emerge, thanks to residents and activists, despite the efforts of authorities to snuff them out.

In Syria, at least 58 people were slain by security forces on Friday, including 16 in Daraa, 17 in Homs, six in Damascus, five in Aleppo, five in Deir Ez Zor, four in the Damascus suburbs, three in Hama, and three in Idlib.

Despite the violence, protests continued, even in Homs. One resident, Sammy, with intermittent acces to the Internet, gave EA's James Miller a vivid account of life under sniper fire and siege.

In Bahrain, security forces tried to quash a march by women, protesting the abuse of children and teenagers by police. Yet despite the tear gas, sound grenades, arrests, and deportations, the authorities did not shut down news of the demonstration. To the contrary, with the seizure of Irish activist Elaine Masons, they ensured attention to the demands for justice and human rights for those under 18, as well as to the continuous tear gassing and firing on Bahrain's villages.

Masons tells the story to EA's John Horne: "They are slowly killing these people."

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