SHAFAQNA – Bahrainis have staged fresh protests across the tiny Persian Gulf island amid a wave of rallies held to mark the anniversary of the 2011 popular revolution.
A march was held in the village of Abu Saiba just outside the capital Manama, demanding the release of top Shia cleric Sheikh Ali Salman and other political activists.
Clashes broke out in the village of Nuwaidrat where regime forces used gas canisters, allegedly bearing toxic chemical agents, to disperse protesters.
Similar anti-regime protest rallies were held elsewhere, including on the island of Sitra and the villages of al-Markh, al-Daih, Karzakan and al-Musalla.
Participants in the rallies carried portraits of some of the victims of the uprising, as they pledged to press on with their demands for civil rights and democracy in Bahrain.
Amnesty International and other rights groups have repeatedly censured the Bahraini regime over “rampant” human rights abuses against opposition activists and anti-government protesters.
Since February 14, 2011, thousands of anti-regime protesters have held numerous demonstrations on an almost daily basis in Bahrain, calling on the Al Khalifa family to step down.
Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of others injured or arrested in the ongoing heavy-handed crackdown on anti-regime rallies.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have deployed troops to assist the Manama regime in its crackdown.
Several prominent activists are held in detention, including Sheikh Salman who heads Bahrain’s main opposition the al-Wefaq party.
He is held since December 2014 on charges of attempting to overthrow the ruling regime and collaboration with foreign powers, which he has strongly denied.
On June 16, 2015, a Bahraini court sentenced him to four years in prison on such charges as insulting the Bahraini Interior Ministry and inciting others to break the law. He was acquitted of seeking regime change.