SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Saudi-backed Bahraini forces have attacked anti-government demonstrators demanding the release of prominent human rights activist Nabeel Rajab.
Tens of thousands of Bahrainis took to the streets near the capital, Manama, on Friday to protest against the rearrest of Rajab. Demonstrators also chanted anti-government slogans and demanded an end to the rule of Al Khalifa dynasty.
Witnesses say regime forces fired tear gas and stun grenade to disperse the crowd, but there were no reports of injuries.
A similar rally in support of Rajab was held in Sitra on Thursday.
Rajab, the president of the non-profit Bahraini NGO, Bahrain Center for Human Rights, was initially arrested at the Bahrain International Airport in the capital, Manama, on May 5 upon return from the Lebanese capital Beirut. He was charged with organizing anti-regime demonstrations and insulting Bahraini authorities through social networking websites.
He was released on May 28 after spending three weeks behind bars on a bail of 300 Bahraini dinars (around USD 800) with a travel ban. Rajab was placed back in detention on Wednesday on fresh charges linked to his social media posts.
Rajab says all charges against him were "vindictive accusations."
"I was targeted because I was exercising my right to defend human rights, which is a right that is stipulated by the Bahraini constitution," he told the court on Wednesday.
Bahrainis have been staging demonstrations since mid-February 2011, demanding political reform and a constitutional monarchy, a demand that later changed to an outright call for the ouster of the ruling Al Khalifa family following its brutal crackdown on popular protests.
Scores of people have been killed and many others have been injured in the Saudi-backed crackdown on peaceful protesters in Bahrain.
Bahrainis hold King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa responsible for the death and arrest of protesters. — www.shafaqna.com