Thousands of protesters in Bahrain on Wednesday continued to occupy an important place in Manama, the capital, the third day of a protest movement demanding political reforms in the kingdom, strategic ally of the United States.
Several thousand people spent the night from Tuesday to Wednesday in a makeshift camp on the Place de la Perle, in Manama. Security forces retreated, apparently to reduce tension after clashes that left two dead and dozens injured.
The protests began on Monday to ask the Sunni monarchy to loosen his grip on power and provide a greater role to the Shiite majority, who complained of being sidelined from decision-making. But the claims were subsequently expanded.
Many protesters demanding jobs, better housing and release of all political prisoners, and we hear more and more slogans calling for turning the page of the ruling Sunni dynasty for over 200 years. Social networks on the Internet are full of calls to continue the protests and insults of suspected government supporters against demonstrators.
The movement still seems disorganized, no clear leader had emerged. According to Sheikh Ali Salman, leader of Al Wefaq, the main Shiite coalition in the kingdom, no request calling for a role of Islam in the political system has been expressed. "We are not a religious government like Iran, but we ask for a civilian government, which represents the Shiites and Sunnis," he told a news conference.
Al Wefaq has 18 elected on a total of 40 in Parliament, but boycotted the meeting to denounce the violence against demonstrators.
The British minister in charge of Middle East and North Africa, Alistair Burt, said he was "concerned" by reports of an "excessive use of force" by police. United States, the spokesman for the State Department PJ Crowley said that the Obama administration was "very concerned" about violence against demonstrators. Bahrain, which hosts the U.S. 5th Fleet, is a key ally of Washington in the Persian Gulf.
On Tuesday, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa has spoken on TV, something rare to offer condolences to the families of two victims, promising an investigation into these deaths and a commitment to pass reforms, including the control media and Internet power.
The government announced Wednesday that persons suspected of involvement in the death of both victims were arrested, without providing details. The funeral Wednesday of one of the two deaths, Fadhel al-Matrook, 31, took a political turn, participants in the funeral procession demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa.
Both victims were members of the Shiite community, which represents 70% of the population complains of discrimination. These days, the country's leaders tried to defuse calls for reform, promising nearly 2,700 dollars (3,650 euros) for each family and a commitment to relax the state control over the media.