Monday, April 04, 2011

Bahrain wages unrelenting crackdown on Shiites


Yahoo! News, April 1, 201
AP
By BARBARA SURK, Associated Press Barbara Surk, Associated Press
MANAMA, Bahrain – The official line: Bahrain is back to business as usual. Shiite protesters are off the streets after a month of paralyzing demonstrations. A state-run newspaper’s headline declares the Persian Gulf island to be “Back on Track.”

But police checkpoints dot the highways around the tiny Sunni-led kingdom. Tanks are deployed around the lavish shopping malls in the capital.

And security forces are carrying out nightly raids in the impoverished Shiite villages around Manama, smashing down doors, destroying furniture and spraying graffiti on the walls, residents told The Associated Press.

One Bahraini human rights activist told the AP that he was beaten and hit with shoes by armed, masked men, who threatened him with rape and told to go back to Iran, the Shiite powerhouse across the Gulf.

The relentless crackdown has made major new protests a virtual impossibility for the time being, analysts and Shiite residents say. But the pressure is generating new anger among protesters who had been calling for democratic reform and equal rights for Shiites. Another explosion of unrest in the home of the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet now seems inevitable, they say.

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