'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Friday, February 18, 2011

Bahrain Crackdown (Part 2) 

UPDATE 1: Martin Chulov of the Guardian files an amazing story about the ongoing protests in Bahrain:

Ali Ismail had helped wash the body of a dead protester for burial and he was already talking of more blood. We will go to them and they will attack us, he said of Bahrain's riot police. Within hours he was proved correct.

Just after 5.30pm on Friday, central Manama again erupted in gunfire and screaming. Up to 200 demonstrators had attempted to march on Pearl Square, the scene of Thursday morning's savage assault that left three dead. Just over a mile from the central Bahrain landmark, soldiers and police opened fire, killing at least one more protester and leaving 50 others wounded.

We don't care if they kill 5,000 of us, a protester screamed inside the forecourt of the Salmaniya hospital, which has become a staging point for Bahrain's raging youth. The regime must fall and we will make sure it does.

According to Chulov, over 50,000 people, between 5% and 10% of the kingdom's population, attended large funeral rallies earlier in the day for the victims of the previous day's violence. After the attack upon the people who attempted to march on Pearl Square, over 7,000 people gathered at the hospital, chanting Down with the King, down with the Khalifas.

INITIAL POST: The government attacks protesters again:

Shots were fired by soldiers around Pearl roundabout in Manama, the Bahraini capital, a day after police forcibly cleared a protest encampment from the traffic circle.

The circumstances of the shooting after nightfall on Friday were not clear. Officials at the main Salmaniya hospital said at least 50 people were injured, some with gunshot wounds.

Some doctors and medics on emergency medical teams were in tears as they tended to the wounded. X-rays showed bullets still lodged inside victims.

This is a war, said Dr. Bassem Deif, an orthopedic surgeon examining people with bullet-shattered bones.

Protesters described a chaotic scene of tear gas clouds, bullets coming from many directions and people slipping in pools of blood as they sought cover.

Bahrain's crown prince, meanwhile, called for calm, saying it was time for dialogue, not fighting.

Someone posted this comment at the Guardian website:

Just got back from salmaniya hospital, carnage and chaos. Lots of wounded and around 30000 people outside the hospital. There was a rumour that they were going to march back down to the pearl roundabout. Lots more arriving at the hospital. Absolutely shocking scenes. People praying in the corridoors it is an absolute disgrace. some of the things i have just seen will stay with me forever. We have gone from a protest to what feels like a civil war. For the first time tonight I was scared. You stop at traffic lights and the police car next to you they are loading their guns. At the big intersections they have huge screen tvs saw flashing lights and crapped myself again.

Meanwhile, President Obama limits his condemnation of the violence to urging restraint. I know next to nothing about this region, but I can't help wondering, are the protests and violence about to cross the strait to Saudi Arabia?

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