CNN report on political prisoner and hunger striker Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, including an interview with his daughter Maryam
See also Bahrain Document: Maryam Alkhawaja "My Father is Dying" br>
Syria Feature: Isolation in Damascus br>
Egypt Feature: The Muslim Brotherhood Comes to America br>
Turkey Live Coverage (5 April): The "Proof" of Terrorism br>
Turkey Live Coverage (4 April): A "Casus Belli" for Syria? br>
Wednesday's Syria, Bahrain (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Scepticism About Reforms
2350 GMT: The 51st birthday and 57th day of hunger strike for leading Bahrain human rights activist Abdulhadi Alkhawaja ends with his daughter Zainab in police detention.
Zainab was arrested earlier tonight in Manama after calling for her father's release. According to her husband, Zainab is "fine" and "hasn't been mistreated". She will be transferred to the central women's prison on Friday and held until, Saturday before facing the public prosecutor. Zainab's sister Maryam reports that she is charged with assaulting a employee. Following her arrest, Zainab has begun a hunger strike in solidarity with her father.
2121 GMT: According to our sources, and many reports on Twitter, there is chaos in many parts of Bahrain, particularly in Manama where there are many night protests and clashes with police:
2052 GMT: According to her sister, Maryam, Zainab ALKhawaja has been arrested:
Another video of Zainab yelling outside the MOI headquarters:
2003 GMT: The first video reportedly showing Zainab AlKhawaja protesting tonight:
1945 GMT: In Bahrain, there were many small protests today, most calling for the regime to release Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, a leading activist who is in poor health while on hunger strike in Bahraini prison.
At this hour, while his daughter, Zainab alKhawaja, hosts protests outside the Ministry of Interior, there is news of another teargas-related death in Bahrain.
20 martyrs in idlib, 20 martyrs in Homs, 15 martyrs in Hama, 4 martyrs in Douma in Damascus Suburbs, and 2 martyrs in Aleppo Suburbs.
Beyond this, the latest accusations that the opposition is leveling against the Assad regime is that when the regime soldiers regain territory in Idlib province they are systematically burning houses and targeting civilians.
As punishment and after raiding towns and villages, regime forces are systematically burning and bulldozing homes of revolutionaries and their families in order to displace them from their respective areas. On Wednesday, during their destruction and killing campaign, the regime’s army deliberately set at least 20 houses on fire in Tafes, Idlib.
1759 GMT: A Facebook page associated with Syrian activists in Barzeh, northern Damascus, shares two pictures that encapsulated how the capital has changed. Within a few weeks, the Barzeh district has been transformed into a military-occupied area. Tanks, armored personnel carriers, and armed soldiers patrol the streets.
1745 GMT: Bahraini activist Maryam Alkhawaja has written an open letter on Nazra for Feminist Studies about her father, human rights activist Abdulhadi Alkhawaja (pictured at right), sentenced to life in prison for his dissent and now on Day 57 of his hunger strike. Her main message?
That her father may die while on hunger strike.
Read the letter here: Bahrain Document: Maryam Alkhawaja "My Father is Dying"
According to activists, this is a recent picture of Alkhawaja:
1456 GMT: Many of the reports posted by the Local Coordinating Committees seem to be focused on a small are of Idlib, between Idlib city and Aleppo, where the regime appears to have stormed several towns, shelling the area and killing many (area on a map). The Free Syrian Army has also reportedly taken up efforts to defend those towns from regime forces, according to activist reports and the LCCS.
1438 GMT: Al Jazeera's Anita McNaught adds more details and analysis of the refugees crossing from Syria into Turkey.
#Turkey refugees tell me up to 50% are young men - some ex-army, some not - who can never return while Assad in power: De facto fighters.— Anita McNaught (@anitamcnaught) April 5, 2012
"The Free Syrian Army attacks a military barrack and kills 12 of the regime soldiers. 3 FSA soldiers were killed in the operation."
1406 GMT: Meanwhile, Syrian activists are reporting that the Homs neighborhood of Juret al Shayah has been hammered by Assad artillery shells today. In the first video, the shells rain down close to the narrator and the cameraman. In the second, even larger shells appear to hit buildings in the background:
The Security Council statement asks Annan to update it on compliance with the timeline and warned that it "will consider further steps as appropriate." Russia and China, however, have made clear they would oppose any attempts to put sanctions on Syria.
While the plan was a watered down version of an earlier draft, it is still significant that Russia and China did not exercise their veto power, despite the language that promised further action should the parties refuse to abide by the ceasefire.
More than 14,500 Syrians have now fled to Lebanon, Derek Plumbly, the UN special coordinator in Beirut said today. According to the UNHCR, more than 8,500 displaced Syrians have been registered in north Lebanon and a further 6,000 are receiving support in the Bekaa.
1334 GMT: Turkey says that at least 1,622 Syrian refugees have streamed across its border in just two days, a huge spike in an increasingly sensitive problem for Turkey. According to Turkish officials, on March 15th more than 1,000 refugees crossed the border, and since there has been an influx of 300-400 refugees every day.
Turkey-based Syrian opposition activists Omar al-Kilani and Muthana Barakat attributed the influx to the Syrian military bombarding some 10 villages around Idlib and Aleppo in the run-up to April 10, the date set by peace envoy Kofi Annan for a Syrian troop withdrawal from restive cities.
The refugee crisis could be the largest threat to the Assad regime. Turkey has already stated that it will not deny Syrian refugees access to Turkey, but Turkey has also signaled that the refugees represent an economic and security threat that is unacceptable. If the refugee crisis reaches a tipping point, it could easily force the Turkish government to intervene in the Syrian crisis.
James Miller takes over today's live coverage. Thanks to Scott Lucas for getting us through this morning and the last several days.
1240 GMT: Following talks between International Committee of the Red Cross President Jakob Kellenberger and senior Syrian officials, including the Foreign Minister, the Red Cross has announced, "The Syrian government agreed to an expanded presence of the ICRC in the country."
The Red Cross also said a procedure on how to trigger a humanitarian pause, reported to be two hours each day, has been agreed. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates also agreed on procedures for visits to places of detention, beginning with an ICRC visit to detainees in Aleppo Central Prison.
"There is no set date or deadline," the official said. "April 10 is the date set for the beginning, not the end, of the withdrawal of troops and it does not constitute a deadline."
The official qsaid the Foreign Ministry had linked withdrawal to a commitment by insurgents to also fulfil the six-point peace plan of United Nations envoy Kofi Annan.
According to Annan's spokesman, Syrian authorities said withdrawal from Daraa, Idlib, and Zabadani had begun today.
1100 GMT: The National has published a photo essay by Canadian journalist Natasha Fillion on Syria's field hospitals treating injured protesters:
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said army reinforcements were being sent into the town.
In northern Aleppo province, close to the Turkish border, security forces were trying to storm two villages and had been fighting insurgent for more than two hours, according to the Observatory, which added, "The loudspeakers at local mosques called for members of the regime army to defect and come into the towns."
The British-based group claimed from its sources that four soldiers were killed and several civilians were wounded.
In neighbouring Idlib Province, an insurgent was shot dead by snipers and three civilians were injured by random gunfire in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, the Observatory claimed.
1050 GMT: Kofi Annan, the United Nations envoy for Syria, will travel to Tehran on 11 April for talks with senior Iranian officials, his spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said today.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has repeated that pursuit of the Assad six-point peace plan should not include ultimata:
Russia proceeds from a deep conviction that any steps around Syria should be aimed at facilitating the success of UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's mission. The Syrian government has accepted his proposals, has begun implementing them, and it is very important right now not to undermine this process through ultimatums and threats, and unfortunately there are those who'd like to do that.
Pressed on Tuesday by the Cleveland Plain Dealer on whether Ohio Congresswoman Marcia Fudge took a position on human rights in the kingdom, her staff said they did not have the information.
On Wednesday, however, a Fudge spokeswoman sent an e-mail:
In a series of meetings with Bahrainian officials, the Congresswoman asked numerous questions about reported human rights violations and the government's suppression of civil protests last year (that nation's version of an "Arab Spring").
She met with the Shiite opposition to learn of their concerns and demands, and was able to discuss some of these in subsequent meetings with officials of the Bahrainian government (which included meetings with the Minister of Human Rights and Social Development, President of the Information Affairs Authority, Bahrainian Ambassador to the U.S. and Deputy Prime Minister.
Congresswoman Fudge asked questions and gathered information regarding women's rights and education as well and encouraged Bahrainian authorities to encourage wider voter participation. She also asked questions regarding Iranian influence in the protest movement in Bahrain.
Fudge's staff also made clear that the Congresswoman "was not required to wear a veil (burqa) in the predominantly Islamic nation".
Video of Bahraini police, one with a shotgun, moving through Sanabis on Wednesday:
There are now close to 21,000 Syrian refugees living in camps in Hatay and in neighbouring Gaziantep Province.
0915 GMT: Brian Whitaker follows up on his Wednesday story (see separate feature) on demonstrations in Mauritania. He notes that a minister, in the video below, called protesters who confronted him "vulgar" and "hand-towels".
Despite such insults and arrests, demonstrators have persisted. Unemployed graduates, after their release from jail, resumed a sit-in outside the Presidential Palace.
The security forces are also persisting, however. At Nouakchott University, police reportedly used batons and teargas to disperse a sit-in at the law school. Five leaders of the UNEM students' organisation were arrested.
Images of Tuesday's protests:
0700 GMT: Video of clashes yesterday in Sanabis in Bahrain between police in armoured vehicles and protesters with rocks, paintballs, and Molotov cocktails:
0530 GMT: The Local Co-ordinating Committees of Syria reports that at least 61 people died across the country on Wednesday, including eight children and four women. Twenty-six deaths were in Homs Province, where neighbourhoods in Homs city sustained regime shelling; 16 people died in the Damascus suburbs, and 10 in Idlib Province.
The LCCS adds, "It is important to note than this overall number does include the martyrs of Taftanaz in Idlib, whose exact number is unknown because of the tight siege the regime has imposed on the town."
Despite the Syrian military's attacks, residents turned out in force last night in the Khalidiya section of Homs:
0505 GMT: Today is the 51st birthday and Day 57 of the hunger strike of Bahraini political prisoner Abdulhadi Alkhawaja.
Alkhawaja, the co-founder of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, was sentenced in June 2011 to life imprisonment, with eight other defendants, because of his dissent. On 8 February, he decided to stop taking food in protest at continuing detentions. He has now eliminated glucose and is only taking water.
This week Alkhawaja has been moved to a police hospital. His lawyer sent the message Wednesday that he had finally been allowed to see the activist, who was suffering from low blood pressure.
Alkhawaja's daughter Maryam, also a prominent activist, tweeted this morning:
Human rights researcher John Lubbock wrote last night, "UK Foreign Office told me today they are trying to convince Bahrain to release Alkhawaja for medical treatment to Denmark".
An EA source says the British effort included a conversation between Foreign Secretary William Hague and his Bahraini counterpart on Tuesday night. The Foreign Office did not refer to the conversation in a statement, writing only that Hague "welcomed Saudi Defence Minister HRH Prince Salman to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office [on Wednesday] to discuss bilateral and regional issues".