The formation of the powerful Shiite opposition in Bahrain, Al-Wefaq, has called for demonstrations Friday near Manama at the Grand Prix Formula 1 as more radical group called on his supporters to march in the capital. Bahrain, a small Gulf countries led by the Sunni Al-Khalifa dynasty, is shaken in February 2011 by a protest movement led by the Shiite majority demanding a constitutional monarchy.
On its website, Al-Wefaq has invited his supporters in a peaceful protest march Friday on the main avenue of Buday, which connects several Shiite villages west of the capital. Friday, the weekly day of rest, coincides with the free practice of the GP of Bahrain, organized Sunday on the Sakhir circuit south of Manama.
Another opposition group, the “Collective of 14 February” more radical, has called for protests in Manama under the slogan “Stop the Grand Prix stained with blood.” For several days now, groups of Shiites began protests against the Grand Prix in villages around Manama.
Witnesses said the masked protesters gathered chanting “No to Formula 1” or more political slogans against the ruling Al-Khalifa family. These gatherings were systematically dispersed tear gas by the police, which has sometimes been pelted with stones and Molotov cocktails, according to these witnesses. The authorities announced Tuesday a device to secure the Grand Prix, which since 2001 has been marked by protests Shiites, however, did not prevent her outfit. The head of the National Security, General Tark al-Hassan, said “a plane guidance would be implemented” during the three days of the Grand Prix, to “ensure the success of this sporting event”. The police will be present at the Sakhir circuit and on the main roads leading to it, has he added.
Amnesty International has called in a statement Tuesday Manama authorities not to “suppress peaceful demonstrations” provided during F1, noting that the government had described as “traitors” activists calling for a boycott of the race. “The Bahraini authorities must not repeat the mistakes of the past” Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty for North Africa and the Middle East, noting that the right of the opposition to peaceful protest “is legitimate and must be respected”. According to him, “rather than continuing to use security measures to deal with anti-government protests, the Bahraini authorities must mark the Grand Prix by announcing concrete measures to address the plight of human rights”. Stressing that “arbitrary arrests, repression of demonstrations and acts of torture in detention centres are continuing” the head of Amnesty believes that “using the Grand Prix to improve the image of Bahrain is a blatant attempt to hide (these) violations”.
While the authority refuses to make concessions background, the protest movement sometimes takes a violent turn. Three policemen were killed in early March in a Shiite village. According to the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), at least 89 people-outside forces-have been killed since the start of the protest movement. Power has added to last year sentences for perpetrators and introduced the death penalty or life imprisonment if death or injury.