Iran Election Guide

Donate to EAWV

Or, click to learn more



Bahrain, Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: More than 100,000 March For Reform

Mass turnout at Saturday's funeral for Fadhel Al Obeidi, killed by Bahraini security forces (see 1450 GMT)

See also Israeli Jets Kill 14 in Gaza; Rockets Fired into Southern Israel
Tunisia Feature: Women Speak Out for Rights in a "New Country"
Syria Snap Analysis: Kofi Annan --- Lost on the Road to Damascus
Friday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: A UN Envoy in Damascus

2250 GMT: In Bahrain, the public prosecutor's office has said that it is dropping criminal charges against 15 of 20 doctors and nurses who have been given prison sentences of five to 15 years.

The medics, who treated protesters in Salmaniya Medical Center in the early days of last year's demonstrations, were convicted in September by a military court of incitement to overthrow the government and attempting to occupy a hospital. After international criticism, the case was transferred to a civilian court for new hearings.

"The Public Prosecutor...has stated he will only be presenting evidence for a small number of accused involved in the most serious criminal violations," the office announced. "Of the criminal cases involving medical professionals, only five have been accused of serious criminal charges."

The statement said the 15 others would face disciplinary hearings for acts including breaching patient confidentiality by allowing cameras into a hospital, leading political protests inside the hospital, and discriminating against patients based on their sect.

2050 GMT: We heard all afternoon about skirmishes, following the funeral of Fadhel Al Obeidi, in Bahrain. Security forces dispersed the gathering in Duraz, and tear gas was also reported in Bani Jamra.

Now an EA correspondent reports, "Clashes are happening around Bahrain at the moment. People in many villages went out protesting and got attacked as usual." He says most of the villages are along the Budaiya Highway, with Karranah particularly affected, but there are also confrontations in Sanabis, Jidhafs,and on the island of Sitra.

1800 GMT: Cherif Bassiouni, the head of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, has said that the regime has not acted on the recommendation in last November's report that any officials guilty of abuses should face justice.

Bassiouni commented, "If you follow the system of accountability and justice, you follow the evidence wherever it goes and whoever is responsible has to be held accountable."

Bassiouni also had a barbed remark for the leadership, such as Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman al Khalifa, who has held office for 42 years: "I think it's time for a new generation to take over the country that is more progressive and sees things in a more democratic way."

1610 GMT: In Tunisia, hundreds of women gathered near Tunis Saturday to call for the return of the Islamic caliphate.

Members of the Hizb ut-Tahrir party came from the Arab states, Indonesia, Turkey, and Europe.

Nasrin Nawaaz, the spokeswoman of the British branch of the party, said, "Muslim women are gathering together saying that we no longer want to live under secular liberal democratic systems. We want a new system, we want the khalifa system that historically has been tried and has succeeded in securing the rights of women."

See also Tunisia Feature: Women Speak Out for Rights in a "New Country"

1600 GMT: Nabeel Al-Hamer, the media advisor to Bahrain's King Hamad has said there will be a "comprehensive dialogue" over the political crisis. The opposition responded that it was unaware of any such plans.

Al-Hamer's comments were published by the Bahrain News agency late Friday after the opposition rally of more than 100,000 people, one of the largest since the start of last year's challenge for reforms. The advisor said the dialogue would include all elements of Bahraini society" as "everyone wants to end the crisis the country is in".

Abduljalil Khalil of the opposition Al Wefaq said, "We haven't heard officially from them yet."

1530 GMT: The Local Co-ordination Committees of Syria claims 31 people have died today, including 16 insurgents killed in an ambush by regime forces in Jisr al-Shughour in Idlib Province./p>

1515 GMT: In Saudi Arabia, a demonstration at King Khalid University challenging the regime --- at least 50 women were injured on Wednesday when security forces broke up a protest against discrimination and mismanagement on the female campus in Abha:

1500 GMT: State media has put out its version of the lines from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his meeting with United Nations envoy Kofi Annan. Assad said, "Syria is ready to bring success to any honest bid to find a solution," but "no dialogue or political process can succeed as long as there are terrorist groups that are working to sow chaos and destabilize the country by attacking civilians and soldiers."

State TV claimed there was a "positive atmosphere" to the Damascus meeting. Annan made no public comment.

State news agency SANA also presented Assad's comment, "The success of any effort firstly requires an examination of what is happening on the ground instead of presumptions spread by certain states of the region and others to distort the reality...of the situation in Syria."

1450 GMT: A massive turnout today at the funeral for Fadhel Al Obaidi, who died last night after he was shot by police on 1 March (see 0610 and 1008 GMT):

Mourners chant, "Down with the tyrant":

1220 GMT: Yemeni security officials say their air force have killed at least 33 insurgents in raids on hideouts in the southern province of al-Baitha.

1216 GMT: Amidst protests on Friday outside the US Embassy in Egypt, soldiers and their plainclothes supporters clash with demonstrators:

1137 GMT: Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani has told Arab foreign ministers that it is time to recognise the Syrian opposition as the nation's legitimate representative.

At the same time al-Thani said, "We advise the opposition, across the spectrum, to rise above their differences and merge into one voice that expresses the aspirations of their people so that they can face the tyranny of the regime."

And the Prime Minister appeared to call for outside military intervention: "The time has come to apply the proposal to send Arab and international troops to Syria."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov joined the foreign ministers. Last month, Moscow vetoed UN Security Council action pressing for an end to the violence and a transition of power by the Assad regime.

Activists report "heavy shelling" of Idlib in northwest Syria this morning.

A protest this morning in Othman in Daraa Province in Syria:

Kafarnabodeh in Hama Province:

1127 GMT: The Local Coordination Committees of Syria reports that 12 people have died today --- six in Idlib and three each in Daraa and the Damascus suburbs.

1120 GMT: Ahram Online describes the opening of campaigns by Egypt's Presidential candidates.

On Thursday, Egypt's Higher Presidential Elections Committee (announced that the official registration period for presidential candidacies would begin today at 9 a.m., ending at 2 p.m. on 8 April.

The vote is scheduled for May.

1024 GMT: Protesters in Qatif in eastern Saudi Arabia chant, "Damn you and your rule. Our youths are in your prison," on Friday.

There have been ongoing demonstrations and demonstrations, with several people killed by security forces, in the largely Shi'a Eastern Province of the kingdom:

1018 GMT: Protesters in Bahrain trying to return to Pearl Roundabout, the symbolic centre of last year's demonstrations, on Friday:

1008 GMT: Bahraini activists have posted a video claiming to show security forces firing directly at protesters in Duraz on 1 March. One of those protesters, Fadhel Al Obaidi, died of his injuries last night:

0808 GMT: Three "senior US intelligence officials" have put out the message, through The Washington Post, that the Syrian regime is firmly in control and increasingly willing to use military force to crush the official.

The officials maintained that President Assad’s inner circle is “remaining steadfast", with Assad "very much in charge". One official said, “That leadership is going to fight very hard....The odds are against them [over the long run], but they are going to fight very hard.”

0632 GMT: Syrian activists report 82 people died in violence on Friday, including 33 in Idlib Province, and 26 in Homs.

United Nations envoy Kofi Annan is reportedly meeting Presdient Bashar al-Assad today.

0630 GMT: An archive photo of Fadel Mirza, who died on Saturday after he ws shot by Bahraini security forces (see 0610 GMT), protesting in his village:

0610 GMT: So much for the line that protest was "crushed" by the Bahraini regime last March....

Almost a year after security forces, backed by troops from Saudi Arabia and Gulf nations, cleared out Pearl Roundabout, after months of tear gas and denunciation of opposition as foreign-controlled, many tens of thousands were on the roads in the "March 4 Democracy". 

Activists such as Maryam Alkhawaja proclaimed that 400,000, out of a country of 1.2 million, were calling for "an elected government, a parliament with power, an end to sectarian discrimination, a clear redistribution of wealth and power and all demands guaranteed by the international convention on human rights," in the words of Nabeel Rajab, the head of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights. The number was probably much lower, but even regime supporters --- defensively countering the claims --- were defensively pointing to media estimates of "only" 100,000 in the rally.

We now watch for the regime response to the demonstration that the opposition, far from crushed, is persisting in the campaign for political, legal, and social reform.

Meanwhile, in a reminder of the continuing toll from violence, another man has died. Fadel Al Obaidi passed away a week after he was hit by a tear gas canister while protesting in Duraz. 

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

« Iran Snap Analysis: Walking Back from War? | Main | Israeli Jets Kill 14 in Gaza; Rockets Fired into Southern Israel (Brulliard/Abdulkarim) »

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>