Bahraini police surround photojournalist Mazen Mahdi and threaten to break his camera as he covers clashes on Sunday
See also Bahrain Analysis: Some Guy Wins Grand Prix, Regime Loses Legitimacy br>
Bahrain Special: Regime PR Fails at Home But Succeeds in New York Times br>
Syria Wired: The Latest from Social Media and EA's Readers br>
Turkey Live Coverage (23 April): The Kurdish Issue, Iraq, and the Region br>
Sunday's Bahrain, Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: A Death, A Hunger Striker, Injuries, Detentions...and a Grand Prix
2043 GMT: Footage of the funeral today of Bahraini activist Salah Abbas Habib, allegedly slain by police:
2038 GMT: Amnesty International have criticised the further delay in the appeal court hearing for 14 detained opposition activists, declaring that the regime is "toying with the life" of human rights activist Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, now on Day 75 of a hunger strike.
In a hearing lasting just a few minutes, the Court of Cassation in Manama postponed the appeal until 30 April, apparently without giving any reason. It is the second postponement since the court started considering the case on 2 April.
During today’s hearing the court was fenced off and surrounded by security officials, and each defendant could only have their lawyers and one family member present. None of the 14 defendants were in the court room.
2032 GMT: Amid the tension and sorrow in Bahrain in recent days, a protest to bring a smile --- youth challenge the Formula 1 Grand Prix by putting a wooden toy car on a roundabout on Sunday. The humour comes in the reaction of several police units as they try ascertain the danger of the wooden model, bringing out the bomb robot:
2030 GMT: A demonstration in Ma'arat Numan in northwest Syria tonight:
1619 GMT: Maryam Alkhawaja updates on the status of her sister and fellow Bahraini activist Zainab, detained last weekend:
1613 GMT: The European Union, apparently aiming at business supporters of President Assad has banned the sale of luxury goods and products to Syria, on the grounds that they can have military as well as civilian uses.
EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said the EU's 27 foreign ministers approved the new set of sanctions --- the 14th in the past year --- "because of deep concern about the situation and continuing violence in spite of the ceasefire. We expect the government to withdraw all troops and heavy weapons from towns and cities (and) we want to make sure that the regime gives full access to humanitarian organizations."
1603 GMT: Egyptian lawyer Ahmed El-Gizawy has been sentenced in absentia by a Saudi court to one year in jail and 20 lashes for "defaming" King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia during a visit to the country last week.
The Egyptian lawyer was traveling with his family to Jeddah when he was detained last Tuesday. He has filed legal cases calling for the release of Egyptians held in Saudi prisons without court sentences.
1600 GMT: Washington and the Dissidents. Speaking at the US Holocaust Museum, President Obama has announced sanctions on those helping Syria and Iran acquire technology that lets them target dissidents through cellphone and Internet use.
The executive order freezes U.S. assets linked to people found to have aided satellite, computer, and phone network monitoring. It cites the Syrian General Intelligence Directorate, the Syrian cell phone company Syriatel, Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iran's Law Enforcement Forces, and the Iranian Internet provider Datak Telecom, as well as a number of individuals: "The United States condemns the continuing campaigns of violence and human rights abuses against the people of Syria and Iran by their governments and provides a tool to hold accountable those who assist in or enable such abuses through the use of information and communications technology."
(Cross-posted from Iran Live Coverage)
1541 GMT: Syrian activists are claiming that UN monitors in Harasta, a suburb of Damascus, refused to talk to them, and also refused to follow their directions after residents told them how to go to see that military vehicles were still in the city.
1530 GMT: Another picture shows the extent of the smoke and teargas in Bahrain:
1526 GMT: In the video below, black smoke is rising from the area near the funeral procession in Bahrain. According to EA sources inside the country, you can see the smoke from miles away:
1518 GMT: In Bahrain, the scene is once again highly chaotic today. The funeral procession for Salah Abbas Habib, killed on Saturday, drew large crowds, but activists report that the police attacked the funeral processions with teargas:
بداء قمع تشيع الشهيد صلاح عباس twitter.com/Waad_bh/status…—جمعية وعد(@Waad_bh) April 23, 2012
Another activist reports that the teargas was AFTER the procession:
As could be predicted, the Ministry of Interior says that they did not teargas mourners, but rather "vandals" and "rioters":
After a burial in Bilad Al Qadeem, rioters blocked roads & committed acts of vandalism. Police restored order #Bahrain— Ministry of Interior (@moi_bahrain) April 23, 2012
1503 GMT: The Guardian has spoken to an activist who claims that he is in Hama. According to Mousab AlHamadee, today's brutal attacks were retaliation against residents who spoke to the UN monitors who visited the city yesterday:
UN monitors were in the city yesterday and people were brave to meet them and explain their suffering at the hands of the regime for more than one year until now. Maybe the regime is trying to punish the people and send a message to people in other cities not to talk to UN monitors and be brave to discuss their suffering with them.
Shelling started in Arbaeen since the morning and after that a big number of troops stormed the city and made people leave their houses onto the street and there were field executions. We have evidence, we have video documentation.
Actually what happened today we can say it's an anti-humanity crime ...Some corpses were burned, some children were slaughtered by night. Something very terrible happened to us. We implore the international community to intervene in a stronger way in this regime to order it to stop killing the Syrian people.
35 martyrs in Hama, 3 martyrs in Daraa, 2 martyr in Homs, 1 martyr in Idlib and 1 martyr in Deir Ezzor.
It appears, from statements made earlier by the Local Coordinating Committees, that all or most of the deaths in Hama occurred when regime forces reportedly shelled the Arbaeen and Mashaa al-Arbaeen areas of the city (Map). The first video below shows plumes of smoke, and a gunshot, rising above the city. The second shows more smoke, gunfire, and what sounds like possible explosions
According to the CFDPC, large crowds of protesters have gathered at multiple rallies across Damascus and its Eastern suburbs, welcoming the arrival of UN monitors. In Douma, that crowd was especially large, and many injuries are reported after the crowd was reportedly attacked by security forces. This first video shows the size of one of the protests in Douma, and the second shows teargas fired at the crowd. Though the CFDPC says that UN monitors were "in the vicinity," it is unclear whether they witnessed the attacks:
1358 GMT: An extremely large crowd has attended the funeral for Salah Abbas Habib in Bahrain:
18 martyrs in Hama, 2 martyrs in Daraa and 1 martyr in Deir Ezzor.
Once again we see a shift in the pattern of deaths, an expansion of deaths in Hama - more evidence that the regime is not just attacking in one area, but in many.
1425 GMT: Two more graphic photos (one and two) are being circulated by Bahraini activists. They appear to show severe burn marks on the chest of Salah Abbas Habib, as well as shotgun wounds (birdshot) to his left side. (see previous update)
1214 GMT: The funeral for Salah Abbas Habib, whose body was found on a rooftop in Bahrain on Saturday, will be held at
1400 1300 GMT today. A major opposition political party, AlWefaq, has released a graphic picture of his body, which seems to show clear evidence that Habib was shot in the back with "birdshot," a shotgun shell that disperses dozens if small metal balls in a wide area. While the opposition activists have often argued that the police occasionally used this weapon, the number of reported birdshot incidents is skyrocketing, and there have been several reported deaths, and many other severe injuries, in recent weeks.
James Miller takes over today's coverage from the excellent and hard-working Scott Lucas.
1021 GMT: A demonstration in Hass in Idlib Province in northwest Syria this morning:
The planned $3.2 billion facility, amid a balance of payments and currency crisis, had been opposed by the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, the leading bloc in Parliament. However, the FJP has been shifting its position this month.
0933 GMT: The Kuwait Times, citing a security source, says that a police campaign to detect “violations and immoral behavior” at public cafés open to women will start soon.
“The Criminal Investigations General Department prepared a security plan to maintain control in cafés for women in all six governorates”, the source said, insisting that the campaign will only cover places “suspected to be hosting illegal activities”.
He continued, “There is information about cafés containing cabins where immoral activities could be practiced.”
0924 GMT: We have just posted an analysis criticising The New York Times for its claimed coverage of events in Bahrain this weekend. A contrasting approach is offered by this morning's Wall Street Journal in an article by Alex Delmar-Morgan:
A huge security presence allowed Bahrain's Formula One grand prix to proceed without incident Sunday, although clashes between protesters seeking to halt the event and police beset villages ringing the capital....
The government has been banking on the race, the island's biggest international sporting event since violence erupted in February, 2011, to repair its battered international reputation and convince the world that calm had returned. The government had also touted the race as a way to attract foreign investment and heal divisions.
But the demonstrators, demanding more political rights, better jobs and, in some cases, the downfall of the monarchy, had cited continuing human-rights abuses in the country to argue for the event to be halted.
0723 GMT: As we expected, it looks like the regime is playing for more time in the cases of political prisoners. An appeals court has again adjourned hearings over 14 detainees, seven of whom received life sentences --- one of those seven is human rights activist Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, who is on Day 75 of a hunger strike:
Cassation court adjourned its verdict till April 30 for the 14 opposition leaders' case. #Bahrain— Faten Al Haddad (@fatenhaddad) April 23, 2012
Bunni said, "The eight activists will face military justice for publishing and distributing forbidden tracts under Clause 148 of the military penal code," adding that they could receive sentences of up to five years.
The eight were among around 15 activists arrested by the security services in Damascus on 16 February at the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression. The Centre is headed by journalist Mazen Darwish, who was among those detained.
Bunni also reported the interrogation in Homs on Sunday of Yara Shammas, the daughter of a lawyer who defends opposition members. He said Shammas, detained on 7 March in a raid of a Damascus cafe, was charged with "spreading lies" and "belonging to a secret organisation".
On Sunday, security forces reportedly arrested four people during a sit-in in Damascus, organised by around 50 students who carried placards such as "Stop the Killing."
0705 GMT: Bahrain's Ministry of Interior promises questions will be asked about the seizure of British reporters and their Bahraini escorts on Sunday --- the "driver" is prominent activist Ali Al A'ali:
Meanwhile, the BBC's Paul Danahar scoffs at regime justification of the arrests:
Amused to hear (on BBC) #Bahrain gov criticise deported C4 news team by saying could have got proper journo visa like BBC, CNN (1/2)— Paul Danahar (@pdanahar) April 23, 2012
My BBC News team (ie not sports team) in #Bahrain got 72 hour non extendable visa & had to leave Thursday, 3 days before the race (2/2)— Paul Danahar (@pdanahar) April 23, 2012
The monitors said two civilians and four soldiers died during a regime assault on insurgents near Damascus.
0630 GMT: Jonathan Miller of Britain's Channel 4 has a farewell message after he, his crew, and Bahraini activists with them were detained on Sunday:
OK... Channel 4 Three finally being deported aboard a non-British airline. Goodbye Bahrain. I met some lovely people but not many were cops.— Jonathan Miller (@millerC4) April 23, 2012
0610 GMT: Hacktivists took down prominent Bahraini websites on Sunday, including those of the Ministry of Interior, the police, and the Bahrain Telecommunications Company. While some are back on-line, the police's website still cannot be accessed this morning.
0600 GMT: We open this morning with the news that foreign journalists and Bahraini activists seized on Sunday were released late last night --- although cameras and laptops were confiscated --- and with an analysis, "Bahrain Analysis: Some Guy Wins Grand Prix, Regime Loses Legitimacy".
While the regime begins that recovery effort today, political prisoners are in court and detained activist Abdulhadi Alkhawaja enters Day 75 of his hunger strike.