SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - Bahrain's rulers can breathe a sigh of relief after a prized Formula One race went off largely unhindered by unrest, but in villages beyond the well-protected Grand Prix bubble simmering communal tensions still pose a stubborn challenge to stability.
Last year's race was seen as a public relations own-goal for the tiny but strategically vital country's ruling Al Khalifa family, as security forces battled protesters and black smoke rose on the skyline across the U.S.-allied country.
This year the opposition, which draws support from the island's Shi'ite Muslim majority, again staged rallies hoping to grab the media spotlight to press for reforms of the Sunni-dominated government.
On the more extreme end, young men complaining of marginalization by the minority Sunni elite battled police with rocks and petrol bombs almost every night, as they have done regularly since unrest erupted in early 2011.
But the government seemed to have learned from last year's race, calibrating the security response to the protests so that they avoided fatalities - the death of a protester last year injected energy into the demonstrations.
They also used public relations to greater effect, and avoided trying to use the race to talk up the political reform process, a strategy that backfired in 2012.
"Last year they tried to use the race to demonstrate everything was normal in Bahrain," Jane Kinninmont, senior research fellow at Chatham House, said, pointing to the "UniF1ed" slogan which came off poorly last year.
"It was pretty obvious the country wasn't unified."
The race was cancelled in 2011 after the start of the protests, which were put down by force and at the cost of at least 35 lives, including members of the security forces.
The public relations battle between the government and opposition appeared to end in stalemate this year, reflecting a broader sense of political stagnation among the opposition.
Representatives from the government and the Shi'ite opposition group al-Wefaq have held "National Dialogue" talks aimed at finding a political solution to the crisis since February, but they have stalled on procedural issues.
A CHALLENGING NEIGHBOURHOOD
Even if the process does move forward, moderates on both sides have been hemmed in by more hardline members of their respective camps who resist concessions to the other side.
Another complication to political reform in Bahrain is its geopolitically strategic position near the Strait of Hormuz, the neck of the Gulf through which 40 percent of the world's sea-borne oil exports pass.
The tiny kingdom - only about a quarter the size of Luxembourg - hosts the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet and is seen in the West as a key ally in the regional power struggle between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shi'ite Iran.
Bahrain's economy also relies in part on oil it sells from a field it shares with Saudi Arabia but which is in Saudi hands.
"Certainly, our neighborhood is challenging," Crown Prince Salman al-Khalifa told reporters in rare remarks a day ahead of the Formula One race.
"What's happening in the wider Middle East does reflect inside our society. But I want a typically Bahraini solution."
The complexity of the situation - and the lack of reform after two years of protests and clashes - has led many in the opposition to temper their expectations.
Ali, a 24-year-old engineer who did not want to give his full name for fear of upsetting his job prospects, said he believed many protesters would settle for more modest reforms such as the resignation of the prime minister rather than a full-scale gutting of the monarchy.
"It's safer for us for the monarchy to stay. But provided that we elect our own prime minister."
But letting Bahrainis elect a prime minister, which could result in a Shi'ite winning, may be farther than even moderates in the ruling circle may be willing to go.
This leaves open the question of what meaningful reforms could put an end to the unrest, and puts Wefaq in the awkward position of trying to satisfy a variety of diverse parties.
BLOOD ON THE TRACKS
The danger is that some in the opposition could become frustrated with the lack of progress in mainstream politics and become more violent in pressing their demands, a risk highlighted by the explosion of a car in Manama's financial district this month claimed by an opposition group.
This is a threat the government clearly senses. While stressing the government's support for peaceful demonstrations, Crown Prince Salman made clear it would not tolerate more radical, violent elements of the opposition.
"What we don't want to support are the violent extremists. And very little distinction has been made between the two," he said.
But as Bahrain settles back into its habitual low-level street violence and political stalemate, this may be just the segment of the opposition that is empowered.
One regional analyst, who asked not to be named because of political sensitivities, said he expected the deadlock to continue as both sides found it hard to make the concessions it would take to break it.
"In Bahrain, the sad reality is that this is a place where you have a real reformist section in government but is actually too weakened now to push anything," he said, adding that similar dynamics were at play within the opposition.
"The tragedy is they're both outflanked on the right and they can't do too much."
(Reporting by Alexander Dziadosz, Editing by William Maclean and Giles Elgood)
source : Reuters
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - The wife of jailed Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab says he is being denied medical treatment for a back injury. Sumaya Rajab told the BBC that prison officials had repeatedly refused requests to send him to hospital. Mr Rajab has served 11 months of a two-year sentence for encouraging "illegal gatherings". The 48-year-old has been a leader of the pro-democracy protests which have rocked the kingdom since February 2011. Mr Rajab, head of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, has more than 200,000 followers on Twitter.
His wife, Sumaya, said he had told her he was experiencing back pain so severe that at times he could not move but that requests for him to be taken to hospital and examined by a specialist had been refused."They tell him to take some exercise and give him a tablet for the pain, that's all they do," she said.According to Ms Rajab the back injury dates from a beating her husband sustained at the hands of the police in 2005. At that time, she said, he spent a week in hospital recovering from the effects of the beating.
No-one from Jaw prison where Mr Rajab is being held was available for comment.Another activist Zainab al-Khawaja, who was jailed for three months in March, has been denied access to her family for refusing to wear prison issue clothes.Her father Abdulhadi al-Khawaja who received a life sentence for plotting the overthrow of the government on evidence that is widely accepted as having been secured under torture has also been refused family visits on the same grounds.
source : BBC
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – The Formula One race has gone ahead despite ongoing clashes between Bahraini police and anti-government demonstrators in the capital, Manama.
Police fired birdshot and tear gas on Sunday to contain simmering resentment at a deadly crackdown by the Sunni royal family on Arab Spring-inspired protests that erupted two years ago led by the kingdom's Shia Muslim majority.
Al Jazeera's special correspondent, reporting from Manama, said that Sunday's clashes had broken out at Al Jabrya secondary school, one kilometre from the centre of the capital.
"Students have barricaded themselves in, we could see smoke from burning tyres and I've seen pictures of tear gas outside classrooms. We're hearing reports that two students are injured," she said.
"They are protesting because a fellow student was removed from the school last week by plain clothes police. He is still in custody."
"This has died down and now we are seeing sporadic clashes with police and protesters."
She said that the clashes were taking place in the west, away from the site of the Grand Prix, in the south.
Pro-democracy protesters had planned to reach the former Pearl Square in Manama, the focal point of anti-regime protests in February and March 2011, but were unlikely to be successful as it was being guarded by the National Guard, said our correspondent.
She said that people attending the race were likely to only see large plumes of smoke, a distance from the race, where protesters were being contained.
Both government and opposition parties have repeatedly urged students not to take up the political protest.
Our correspondent said that clashes had also been reported in Barbar after four police cars had entered the village to paint over anti-Formula One graffitti, but that no injuries had been reported.
The country's Shia-led opposition has also staged peaceful rallies that have drawn thousands of demonstrators demanding democratic reforms.
'Celebrate the event'
Bahrain's Crown Prince Salman al-Khalifa said more than 15,000 people visited the circuit on Friday and more were expected on Sunday, despite the unrest.
He dismissed the suggestion the government was using the race to paper over human rights abuses.
"What I would like to say is let's focus on what's positive, let's build upon the platform that we have, and let's celebrate this event with Bahrainis who are really passionate," he told reporters on Saturday at the Sakhir desert circuit, roughly 30km southwest of Manama.
But the Crown Prince admitted that talks between the government and opposition groups, aimed at breaking the political deadlock were moving too slowly.
Crown Prince Salman is a driving force behind talks between the government and main opposition groups aimed at breaking the political deadlock. He described the race as an opportunity to transcend national differences.
However, in contrast to the Shia-inhabited villages where the clashes took place, there was little evidence of unrest in central Manama or around the race circuit at Sakhir, the AFP news agency reported.
Spectators at the circuit on Saturday for race qualifying enjoyed a carnival atmosphere, watching music and dance performances and other activities geared towards children.
Watched by millions around the world, the opposition has hoped to use the race to put the spotlight on its campaign.
The government has aimed to show unity and portrayed the protesters as trying to undermine Bahrain's international image.
Bahrain is a key Western ally that hosts the US Navy's Fifth Fleet.-www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Al Jazeera
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Saudi Arabia has sent more tanks and weapons for its troops in Bahrain during the Formula One Grand Prix auto race in Manama.
Bahrani activists said on Sunday that the tanks were sent by heavy military transport vehicles, which crossed the main bridge that links the two neighboring countries.
Meanwhile, Saudi-backed Bahraini security forces clashed with pro-democracy protesters, who held demonstrations on Sunday across the country against the Grand Prix race.
The violence erupted when police attacked protesters blocking roads in Manama. The protesters also burnt tires on roads in villages outside Manama, according to witnesses.
Protests have increased in Bahrain as the Manama regime prepares to host the controversial sporting event.
Bahrain’s public security chief, Major General Tariq Hassan said in a statement, “Police are out in force to beef up security measures at the Bahrain International Circuit.”
On Saturday, police fired tear gas at anti-regime demonstrators calling for the cancelation of the sporting event over the regime’s crackdown on peaceful protests.
Similar demonstrations were held on Friday, when tens of thousands of Bahrainis rallied along the Budaiya highway west of Manama to demand the cancelation of the race.
The Bahraini revolution began on February 14, 2011, when the people, inspired by the popular revolutions that toppled the dictators of Tunisia and Egypt, started holding massive demonstrations.
On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates invaded the country, upon Manama's request, to help the Bahraini regime quash the uprising.
The protesters initially said they wanted political reform and a constitutional monarchy. However, following the regime’s brutal crackdown on the popular protests, the Bahraini people began demanding that the ruling Al Khalifa family step down.
Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of others arrested in the crackdown, but the protesters are undaunted and have refused to back down on their demands. -www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Press TV
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) The Al Khalifa regime has ordered journalists from the British television network ITV to leave Bahrain as they reported on the violent crackdown on pro-democracy protests in the build-up to the Formula One Grand Prix auto race.
The team of five, including ITV News special correspondent Rageh Omaar, were filming in the tiny Persian Gulf island ahead of this weekend's Formula One race.
However, despite having the necessary visas, the British TV crew was held and questioned at a police station on Friday before being told they must leave the country or face going to prison.
An ITV News spokeswoman said the news team “were stopped while filming … and taken to a local police station for discussions with officers”.
Earlier this week, a group of British MPs also called for the cancellation of the Formula One race due to “negative publicity” it may attract the same as last year.
Bahraini demonstrators say Manama’s hosting of the sporting event will legitimize the Al Khalifa regime and its abuse of the rights of the Bahraini people.
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.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- Protesters in Bahrain plan to step up demands for reform ahead of this weekend's Formula One Grand Prix, setting the scene for a showdown with authorities determined to stage an incident-free race.
The main opposition Al-Wefaq political bloc has called for a massive rally to coincide with free practice on Friday, the same day the radical February 14 Movement has urged youths to protest under the slogan "Volcano of Anger".
The Shiite Al-Wefaq is to protest under the banner "Democracy is Our Right".
"We are not against the Formula One Grand Prix, but we want the world to hear our demands -- democracy, respect of human rights, and an elected government," said leading Al-Wefaq figure Khalil al-Marzooq.
Marzooq, speaking to AFP on the telephone, distanced his movement from the violence that the February 14 Movement frequently resorts to.
But he accused the security forces in the tiny Gulf archipelago of "suppressing the people like they were enemies," adding that "violence leads to violence".
Late on Tuesday, youths took to the streets across Shiite-populated villages, sounding drums and chanting: "No to the Formula of blood," in reference to the three-day event.
Video footage posted on YouTube showed masked protesters setting alight tyres and gas cylinders to block a road in Bilad Al-Qadim near the capital Manama.
The protesters carried pictures of Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone, his face marked with a X.
Ecclestone has said he sees "no reason" why the Bahrain race should not be successful.
"There's no reason why it shouldn't be," Ecclestone told AFP at last weekend's Grand Prix in Shanghai, China.
Sunni-ruled Bahrain has vowed to take "appropriate" security measures ahead of the Grand Prix in the Shiite-majority Gulf state.
Government spokeswoman Samira Rajab said that "Bahrain is ready to host the F1 and there are no security issues," dismissing the protests as "childish movements implementing Iranian agendas... that will not affect the race."
She said hotel occupancy rates "will reach 100 percent based on the bookings made until now".
"The teams are here now and tourists are in their thousands."
Checkpoints have been set up at major intersections, especially on roads leading to the Sakhir race circuit and Manama's financial centre, where a bomb exploded late Sunday in an attack claimed by February 14. It caused no harm.
Police have been rounding up pro-democracy activists in an attempt to head off protests over the hosting of the race.
"More than 100 people have so far been arrested," said Marzooq.
On Wednesday, Amnesty International accused Bahrain of "trying to use the Grand Prix as a platform to show progress, with claims that the human rights situation has improved, whilst stepping up repression in order to ensure nothing disturbs their public image".
It urged Bahrain to "immediately release all prisoners of conscience, let demonstrators exercise their rights peacefully and allow unrestricted access to NGOs and journalists to monitor the situation around the Grand Prix".
Bahrain was rocked by month-long pro-democracy protests led by the kingdom's Shiites in early 2011 that were crushed with the help of troops from Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia.
The race was cancelled that year but went ahead in 2012.
Home to the US Fifth Fleet and strategically situated across the Gulf from Shiite-ruled Iran, Bahrain has continued to witness sporadic demonstrations, now mostly outside the capital.
A new round of dialogue between the opposition and the government began in February against the backdrop of protests launched around the second anniversary of the uprising.
But the talks have been dogged by disagreement due what the opposition describes as a "lack of will for reform" by the government.
Human rights groups say a total of 80 people have been killed in the unrest in Bahrain since February 2011.
source : AFP
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- For the second consecutive year, Bahrain will host a Formula One (F1) race despite severe human rights violations documented by local and international human rights organizations, including the United Nations.
For the second consecutive year, the race will proceed with great fanfare as the plight of dozens of athletes who weredetained and tortured for exercising their freedom of expression goes unnoticed. Many of these athletes weretargeted, arrested and defamed because of their participation in the "Athletes March," a peaceful march by athletes who supported the 14th February Revolution at the Pearl Roundabout. Some remain in jail.
For the second consecutive year, the suffering of the staff of the Bahrain International Circuit - the company that hosts the F1 race - is being ignored. Back in 2011, the staff's offices were raided by security forces, and some were subjected to torture inside the F1 premises. Some were even fired from their jobs.
It's no surprise that "racing on our blood" is a slogan often chanted by Bahrainis in marches and sit-ins in reference to the F1. During last year's F1 race, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights documented the arrest of at least 60 protesters and dozens of injuries caused by the extensive use of force by the Bahraini security forces. There were also some deaths, including Salah Abbas, a 35 year-old man from Shakura village who died after being hit with gunshot pellets fired by police during a peaceful march on the eve of the F1 race.
History is repeating itself in 2013. This year, seven days prior to the start of the F1 race, we documented the arrest of 50 people, including 20 activists from the villages near the area of Bahrain International Circuit, including Darkulaib and Shahrakan, a tactic we believe is designed to spread terror among people in the areas where protests are often held.
The Bahraini security forces do all of this to ensure that the F1 goes off smoothly. It's reflective of the Kingdom's actions during the past two years. The Bahrian government responded to revolution that began in February 2011with a crackdown that has resulted in the deaths of 80 people, including children, and the arrest of thousands of men and dozens of women who were systematically tortured. The regime continues to get away with murder.
In spite of all of these abuses, the Arab and international media has failed to cover Bahrain in the way they covered other revolutions in the "Arab Spring." We, as human rights activists in Bahrain, ask journalists who are coming to cover the F1 to see the other side of things here, the side hidden by the authorities. We ask them tocome and see the daily protests in over 40 areas of Bahrain where people demand their freedom and their right of self-determination. We ask them to observe how peaceful protestors are often met with collective punishment using tear gas and shotgun pellets.
We ask them to watch as the seriously injured are scared to go to government hospitals because they have been militarized. Even private hospitals have been instructed by the Ministry of Health in Bahrain not to treat injured protestors and to report them immediately to the police upon arrival to the hospital. The BCHR recently issued a detailed report on the militarization of hospitals and the lack of medical neutrality. Despite the ongoing abuses in Bahrain, weapons sellers are ready to supply the Bahrain authorities with the weapons used in its crackdown.
If they look, journalists will have no problem witnessing the deterioration of freedom of expression in Bahrain, including the arrest ofthose who publish their views on Twitter. I was among those arrested just minutes after tweeting a photo of an injured Bahraini who was shot by shotgun bullet. I was imprisoned for my post.
The United States is one of the countries supporting the Bahraini regime despite the Obama Administration's claims to be on the side of democracy and human rights. Why does the administration often stay so silent on the situation in Bahrain and not announce its support for the legitimate demands of the Bahrainis to peaceful protest and self-determination? We know Bahrain hosts a major U.S. military base. That is why it is so important for them to speak up for us and to say that we are people who deserve democracy. Bahrainis want to enjoy it as U.S. citizens do. We want to express our opinions and to elected our officials. Our unelected prime minister has not been changed for 42 years, unlike the United States where Americans practice their right to elect a President every four years.
We are gradually being killed in Bahrain by international silence for our crime of demanding self-determination. As the F1 race commences, we ask that you look beyond the track. We ask that you look into the streets of Bahrain, where those who want democracy are in a race against time for their lives and freedom.
Sayed Yousif Al-Mahafdah is the monitoring and follow-up official in the Bahrain Center for Human Rights
source : HP
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- With Bahrain about to host the 2013 Formula One Grand Prix, the spotlight has returned to the Gulf country’s human rights record.
Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director, Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, talks about the crackdown against anti-government protesters following the uprising two years ago.
What’s been happening in Bahrain?
In 2011, thousands of people took to the streets in Bahrain – a small island nation in the Gulf – to demand political reform and more rights following a string of similar protests across the Middle East.
During the demonstrations in 2011 dozens of people were killed by the security forces. Thousands were arrested and many are still in detention. Others have been arrested in the past months and have allegedly been subjected to torture or other ill-treatment. Prisoners of conscience remain behind bars and the security forces continue using unnecessary or excessive force against protesters, which has resulted in two people killed so far this year.
This is the reality of the human rights situation in Bahrain, behind the gloss of reform, as the country prepares to host the Formula One Grand Prix.
How bad is the current human rights situation?
An Amnesty International delegation visited Bahrain in January 2013 and confirmed reports that protesters face an ongoing crackdown. We collected reports of torture and other ill-treatment of protesters; the security forces’ continued use of force in breach of international standards to forcibly disperse protesters; the harassment of activists and a complete lack of accountability for the human rights violations that have been committed over the last two years.
Is the situation getting better or worse?
The situation hasn’t really improved since the protests broke out two years ago and by and large those responsible, in particular higher up, have not been tried. The security forces continue to use unnecessary and excessive force, using shotguns and tear gas against protesters. The use of tear gas is particularly reckless.
At least 26 people have died in protests since November 2011, when the Independent Commission of Inquiry set up by the Bahrain government issued its report into the initial protests. Last September, 16-year-old Ali Hussein Neama died after riot police shot him in the back in the village of Sadad. His family said the police had threatened them and prevented them from approaching the boy as he lay on the ground. An official investigation closed the case, saying it had been an “act of self-defence” on the part of the security officer. The family has not had access to the investigation files.
Why should people care about the human rights situation in Bahrain?
The human rights crisis in Bahrain is not over. Just this week, the authorities moved to jail people who offend the King for up to five years. The level of human rights violations in the country, as well as the rampant impunity enjoyed by the security forces for these abuses, risk engulfing Bahrain in instability.
What needs to be done now?
The authorities should immediately and unconditionally release all those imprisoned solely for exercising their rights of freedom of expression, association and assembly. Other prisoners should be granted fair retrials in civilian courts or released. The authorities should allow people to protest peacefully and rein in the security forces by giving clear instructions to refrain from unnecessary and excessive use of force.
They should ensure that independent, impartial and thorough investigations are conducted into all allegations of torture and other ill-treatment, deaths in custody and the killing of protesters, and bring to justice anyone responsible for these violations.
The authorities say the human rights situation has improved, yet they put restrictions on NGOs, including organizations such as Amnesty International, which is not allowed to be in Bahrain on weekends when most protests happen, and when the police resort to tear gas and the use of force.
Who is most affected by human rights abuses?
Most victims of violations have been from the country’s majority Shi’a Muslim population. But anyone who expresses opposition to the ruling family is at risk of arbitrary arrest, ill-treatment or other abuses.
Are children also being targeted?
We have documented an increase in the number of children (under 18s) who have been arrested during protests. Many have been held in adult prisons or detention centres. Some have been tried in adult courts, instead of juvenile courts, and are currently serving their sentences in adult prisons. We have also received reports of children being tortured or ill-treated in custody.
Is anyone being punished for the abuses taking place?
There are very few investigations into allegations of torture and the killing of protesters. Only a few officers have been tried for alleged abuses.
Seventeen officers went on trial after being linked to the dozens of deaths since 2011 and at least 500 torture allegations documented in the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry report. Of those 17 officers, eight have already been acquitted of all charges, with six of them currently released on bail and on appeal.
What are authorities doing?
In November 2011, an Independent Commission of Inquiry set up by the Bahraini authorities released a report about abuses carried out during the initial protests. The authorities admitted abuses were committed and said they were reforming. Since then there have been some institutional changes, such as the creation of an ombudsman’s office to receive complaints about abuses, CCTV cameras were installed in police stations and a code of conduct for police officers was introduced.
But the police continue to arrest people without warrants, detain them incommunicado for days or weeks at a time and deny them access to lawyers. We continue to receive reports of detainees being subjected to torture or other ill-treatment, including beatings, kicking, verbal abuse and threats of rape. Meanwhile, the security forces continue to use unnecessary and excessive force against protesters, which has resulted in two deaths this year. Prisoners of conscience remain behind bars and true justice for victims of human rights violations remains elusive.
What about the UK Foreign Affairs Committee’s enquiry into Bahrain?
The UK Foreign Affairs Committee launched an inquiry last year into the Foreign & Commonwealth Office's foreign policy towards Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. The inquiry touches on many subjects, including human rights, and has already received a large number of submissions on human rights abuses. It is essential that this inquiry puts the human rights situation of Bahrain back on the agenda, and that the UK government takes the results seriously.
How should other countries react to the events in Bahrain?
The US Government, and other countries with special ties with Bahrain, should condemn the current human rights violations and press the Bahraini government on human rights issues. They should not export security and military material which could be used to commit human rights abuses. They should insist that the government implements effective human rights reforms and that victims of human rights violations receive justice and full reparations.
source : Amnesty International
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- The main opposition society in Bahrain has called for a major demonstration ahead of Sunday's Formula One Grand Prix race in the Gulf kingdom.
Khalil al Marzooq, a senior Al Wefaq leader, told the BBC that the protest would take place along a major motorway, Budaiya Highway on Friday.
But he said the society will not call for protests on the day of the race.
Activists have demanded the race be cancelled due to the country's poor human rights record.
Mr Marzooq also urged all protests to be peaceful.
"We do not support any violence either from security forces or protesters," he said.
The F1 race is taking place against a backdrop of tension as unrest continues in the island kingdom.
On Tuesday, police fired tear gas and clashed with students in a raid on a secondary school in the capital, Manama.
Officers stormed the Jabreya school for boys after students staged a protest demanding the release of a colleague arrested on Monday, activists say.
Wefaq says more than 100 people have been arrested this month, many from villages close to the site of the race.
And Amnesty International has condemned what it called a "crackdown" on protests ahead of the race.
In a statement on Wednesday, the organisation's Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui said:
"The authorities are trying to use the Grand Prix as a platform to show progress, with claims that the human rights situation has improved, whilst stepping up repression in order to ensure nothing disturbs their public image."
However Citizens for Bahrain, an organisation that supports the race, rejected criticism from human rights groups.
Police used teargas to quell a school protest on Tuesday
In a statement sent to journalists it argued that "the race unites people, despite political differences, after a period of unrest and sectarian tension".
But Mr Marzook told the BBC that the tension is ongoing and that a dialogue aimed at finding solutions was "stalemated".
"The government wants the world to believe the situation is normal. Bahrain is not normal. The only thing that is normal is the repression."
The country has been rocked by anti-government protests since early 2011.
On Sunday a car bomb blew up in the heart of the financial district in the capital Manama, though without causing injuries.
An opposition group calling itself the February 14 movement has said it was behind the blast.
While Wefaq and other opposition groups repeat their calls for peaceful protest, angry youths are ignoring them and routinely taking to the streets armed with Molotov cocktails.
They have set up roadblocks with burning tyres and have fought running battles with the police.
There have been almost daily clashes in Bahrain since security forces used birdshot and tear gas to quash a three-day-old peaceful protest at Manama's Pearl Roundabout on 17 February 2011.
As violence escalated 35 people, including five police officers, were killed, and hundreds more were hurt and jailed in February and March 2011.
Since then, opposition and human rights activists say more than 50 people have died, a figure which the government disputes.
writer : By Bill Law
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –Another Bahraini has died due to asphyxia after inhaling poisonous tear gas fired by Saudi-backed regime forces as Manama's brutal crackdown on protests continues.
The victim, identified as Haj Ibrahim Hassan Salman, died on Tuesday nearly 45 days after inhaling toxic tear gas fired by regime forces.
Salman, 60, was hospitalized last month after security forces fired tear gas canisters into residential areas in the town of Samaheej.
His funeral is due to be held later on Tuesday.
Scores of Bahraini civilians, mostly senior citizens and kids, have died due to the misuse of tear gas against protesters by regime forces.
Last year, Amnesty International warned about the Bahraini regime's misuse of tear gas against protesters and called for an investigation into the tear gas-related deaths.-www.shafaqna.com/English