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Saturday
Apr072012

Bahrain, Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Free Alkhawaja

One of Friday's "Free Alkhawaja" rallies in Bahrain --- see also our Bahrain Video and Photo Special

See also Bahrain Feature: A Call from Hunger Striker Abdulhadi Alkhawaja to His Family
Bahrain Video and Photo Special: Friday's "Free Alkhawaja Protests"
Lebanon Feature: Is Hezbollah's Syria Policy A Regional and Domestic Mistake?
Turkey Video Feature: Will the "Coup Trial" Heal Political Wounds?
Friday's Bahrain, Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: A Kingdom on Edge


2045 GMT: On Friday night, Bahraini activist Zainab Alkhawaja was seized as she stood outside a military hospital and called out to her father, political prisoner Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, held inside on his hunger strike. She was released this afternoon.

Tonight Zainab returned. According to her mother, she was seized, tied to a wheelchair, and taken to the security room at the hospital.

1935 GMT: This evening Bahraini human rights activist Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, detained and on Day 59 of a hunger strike, has called his family from a military hospital. We have posted an account, provided by his daughter Zainab, in a separate entry.

1735 GMT: Footage of today's shelling of Rastan near Homs in Syria:

1655 GMT: Another film by the Bahraini opposition explaining the protest of this month's Formula 1 Grand Prix (see 0930 GMT), "We want to enjoy F1 too, but there are 100s of prisoners. The Government is killing us."

The activist behind the video explains to an EA correspondent, "After knowing that the F1 drivers might refuse to come if the insurance went high. I decided to play it dirty for once and help the insurance companies [by trying to] increase the premium."

1555 GMT: Could this be a sign that detained human rights activist Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, on Day 59 of his hunger strike, will be freed and allowed to go abroad? From the Bahrain News Agency:

Foreign Affairs Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa has received a written message from his Danish counterpart Villy Sovndal in which he requested transferring Abdul Hadi Al Khawaja, who holds a Danish citizenship, to Denmark.

The letter was referred to the President of the Supreme Judicial Council, since Al Khawaja's case is being examined by the Judiciary, an independent constitutional branch, in line with the principle of separation of the legislative, executive and judicial powers stipulated by the kingdom's constitution.

A Danish site confirms that Copenhagen's Ambassador has spoken with Alkhawaja.

1535 GMT: Officials in the United Arab Emirates have prevented an employee of the US-backed National Democratic Institute from leaving the country, 10 days after shutting down the office of the non-government organisation.

The staff member, a Serbian national, was detained at the Dubai airport this week, questioned for several hours, and released.

An American employee has left the country.

The German-based Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung was also closed last week by the authorities.

1445 GMT: In Bahrain, the opposition February 14 Political Center has denied that "Rebels Race In Bahrain", which claimed today's attack on a public bus (see 1410 GMT), has any connections with the protest movement:

1425 GMT: The Local Co-ordination Committees of Syria claim that 110 people have died today, including 57 in Homs Province, 25 in Homs Province, 13 in the Aleppo suburbs, and 13 in Jabal Zawiyeh in Idlib Province.

1420 GMT: Lawyer Mohammed al Jishi reports on activist Zainab Alkhawaja, who was detained on Friday night, standing outside the prison where her father Abdulhadi has been on hunger strike:

Abdulhadi Alkhawaja's wife Khadija Almousavi reports:

1415 GMT: Armoured vehicles in the Latamna area of Hama today --- activists claimed dozens of residents died earlier in a regime tank:

A large military deployment outside Anadan in Aleppo Province:

1410 GMT: A group called Rebels Race in Bahrain, which appears to be a splinter group of the opposition, has claimed an attack on a public bus today, setting it alight:

1340 GMT: The Associated Press clarifies the story on this morning's tension in Yemen after President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi dismissed officials and generals linked to the regime of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

It was reported that a bomb warning had shut down Sana'a International Airport in protest at the firing of Saleh's half-brother Mohammed Saleh al-Ahmar, the commander of the Air Force. However, the real threat appears to have been pro-Saleh gunmen who fired at airport buildings with anti-aircraft guns mounted on pickup trucks.

Armed tribesmen and troops in uniform surrounded the airport, blocked roads, and sent passengers' vehicles away.

1310 GMT: A tank in the Damascus suburb of Douma today:

Troops moving in armoured vehicles through the suburb of Ghouta:

1240 GMT: Nearly 1500 Jordanians demonstrated on Friday across the country to demand the release of 19 detained activists, charged with insulting the King, and to call for reforms.

In Amman, more than 400 Islamists and trade unionists held a sit-in near the University of Jordan to condemn corruption and the detentions, while about 300 members of youth movements marched from Al-Husseini mosque to the nearby city hall.

Hundreds of people marched in the southern cities of Tafileh and Karak and in Zarqa and Irbid in the north.

Thirteen activists were charged last Sunday after a demonstration outside the Prime Minister's office over arrests in mid-March of six activists in Tafileh.

1055 GMT: The Local Co-ordinating Committees of Syria claim 70 people have already been killed today. More than 40 are in Hama Province, including dozens killed in Latamneh. Seventeen have died in Homs Province, and 12 in Aleppo Province.

1053 GMT: Turkish officials claim 800 more Syrian refugees have arrived in the last 24 hours.

More than 3000 Syrians have crossed the border this week. There are now almost 25,000 in Turkish camps.

1048 GMT: The World reports on prominent Yemeni journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye, given a five-year sentence for supporting Al Qa'eda in 2011, after his interviews with high-ranking insurgents in Yemen and his article on a 2009 drone strike in southern Yemen that killed more than a dozen women and children.

Former President Ali Abdullah Saleh reportedly prepared a pardon for Shaye., but withdrew it after a conversation with President Obama.

1040 GMT: Claimed footage of the Jourat al Shiah section of Hama:

And an attack on the Qosour neighbourhood of Homs:

0940 GMT: Activists claim that Syrian forces have killed dozens of people in an attack this morning on on al-Latamneh in Hama Province. Graphic footage of victims has been posted on YouTube.

0930 GMT: Activists of Bahrain's February 14 Coalition have posted a video announcing "3 Days of Rage" against the Formula 1 Grand Prix scheduled for 20-22 April (Warning: Graphic Images):

0910 GMT: Mohamed al-Jishi, the lawyer for detained hunger striker Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, says the intravenous drip given to the activist at a military hospital in Bahrain is only a saline/glucose solution: "The doctors said this won't be enough to keep him alive. He is in a critical phase and he still needs to take food."

0900 GMT: The half-brother of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, has reportedly refused to leave his post as chief of the air force, defying his dismissal by President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

Mareb Press claims, from a "source from Sana'a International Airport", that the airport received a phone threat that aircraft taking off would be bombed, in protest against the removal of the Air Force commander.

0625 GMT: In an apparent move to consolidate his power, Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi has dismissed several regime officials and more than a dozen military generals linked to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who ruled for 33 years.

Among those fired were some of Saleh's relatives, including his half brother who was the Air Force commander; his nephew, who headed the Presidential Guard; and a brother-in-law to Saleh's daughter, who headed an oil products distribution company.

0515 GMT: Only two weeks before the regime hopes to welcome the world to the Bahrain Formula 1 Grand Prix, the dominant story is that of a 51-year-old man in a military hospital on Day 59 of a hunger strike against his life sentence and the terms imposed on other political prisoners.

Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, the co-founder and former President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, is persisting with his fast, despite reports that he is dangerously close to heart failure. Yesterday thousands marched in demands for his freedom, despite the attempts of security forces to disperse them with tear gas, stun grenades, and water cannon. 

The situation is finally receiving international attention, from Al Jazeera English --- "Bahrainis Rally in Support of Hunger Striker" --- to The Guardian --- "Bahrain Unrest Fuels Calls for Grand Prix to be Cancelled" --- to Reuters' report and "The Lede" blog in The New York Times.

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