The Bahraini pro-democracy movement suffered another crushing defeat yesterday when state forces demolished the Pearl Monument in the capital’s financial district.
The 40-metre sculpture had for four weeks served as a focal point for tens of thousands of demonstrators who were camping out there every night, calling for the replacement of the monarchy with a democratic constitution.
Last Wednesday morning, unarmed civilian protesters at the Pearl were attacked by security forces from Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.
According to medical sources, at least five protesters were killed at the Pearl during the morning raid, which has sparked an international outcry, including condemnation from Amnesty International and other human rights groups.
Pro-government newspapers claimed two policemen were killed during the raid, but the father of one of these victims, Ahmed Abdullah Hassan, from Hamad town, yesterday denied that his son was ever a member of the security forces.
The ongoing military crackdown is targeting mainly Shia villages on the outskirts of Manama and other towns.
The village of Sanabis, west of Manama, was yesterday surrounded by up to a dozen tanks with turrets pointed at the low-rise apartment blocks.
Residents were wary of talking to media, fearing reprisals from the heavily armed troops, most of whom were wearing balaclavas. “They will kill us,” said one resident nervously.
With dozens of injured protesters taken into custody this week, it is hard to establish the actual death toll, said one senior medic.
The main public hospital in Manama, Salmaniya, and other health centres were attacked by state forces and have now been put under military command.
One nursing supervisor at Salmaniya said that staff were physically assaulted by state forces and detained overnight. One consultant, Dr Ali Ekri, was arrested and his whereabouts are still not known, according to his family and colleagues.
Many of the injured in Salmaniya were removed by state forces and moved to an army hospital in Riffa, said medical staff.
The Irish Times witnessed the evacuation of hundreds of patients by armed military from Salmaniya on Thursday. All but one exit door at the hospital was blocked by armed soldiers and evacuees were being screened by officers as they emerged in a single file from the remaining main exit. Some of the patients were being put on ministry of interior buses.
Meanwhile, the family of one of the dead from the Pearl dawn raid, 32-year-old Jaffar Maioof, yesterday told how he was cut down by troops. His uncle described how, only minutes before the shooting began, Jaffar had held his hands above his head, saying “selmia, selmia” (“peaceful, peaceful”).
Then the soldiers started firing with machineguns, hitting him fatally in the back. Attempts to help the wounded man were blocked by troops who fired on an ambulance, said witnesses.
[DS added the videos.]
Bahrain razes Pearl Square to ground
PressTVGlobalNews on Mar 18, 2011
Bahraini authorities have razed to the ground Manama’s Pearl Square, which is considered the epicenter of anti-government protests in the country.
Press TV journalist deported from Bahrain
presstvlondon on Mar 19, 2011
A Press TV journalist has accused the Bahraini authorities of intimidation after being deported from the country. Johnny Miller had his equipment confiscated and was put on a plane after reporting about the revolution and the Saudi invasion of the country. Roshan Muhammed Salih reports from London.