The Bahrain government grossly overreacted to protests in its capital city of Manama last night, attacking a peaceful camp of demonstrators, many of whom were reportedly sleeping, killing at least six and wounding more than 200. Medical personnel, woman, and children are among the injured, and the number of casualties seems likely to go up, as the city’s hospitals are filled.
The government is in trouble. (As are many other Middle Eastern governments at the moment.) The United Nations issued a strongly worded statement demanding a stop to the usage of force. The United States, which has a large naval fleet stationed in Bahrain, issued a statement urging respect of the protesters yesterday—a new statement is expected to be more critical today. Bahrain’s population is largely Shiite Muslim, and the ruling Khalifa family is Sunni.
The protests began Monday, and two people were killed by police earlier this week. This prompted a rare apology from King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, who said peaceful protests were legal and promised to investigate the killings. That statement looks hollow now.
“Authorities are acting because they see clearly how big this is getting,” said an Al Jazeera correspondent, whose name is being kept secret for safety reasons.
This morning, tanks sit on the streets of Bahrain, helicopters fly overheard. And people are chanting “Death to Khalifa,” and promising that the blood of the protesters will not be spilled in vain.
Image: ASSOCIATED PRESSAP