Security forces in Bahrain have injured several people after clashing with anti-government protesters demanding the release of a prominent jailed opposition leader.
On Friday, Bahraini regime forces launched another heavy-handed crackdown on demonstrators who had taken to the streets in the town of Diraz outside the capital, Manama, to protest against the detention of prominent Shia cleric, Sheikh Ali Salman, the secretary general of Bahrain’s main opposition bloc, al-Wefaq National Islamic Society.
Several people were injured after the Al Khalifa forces fired tear gas and birdshots to disperse protesters.
The massive rally was held two days after Salman went before a regime court and denied all charges against him.
Before the trial, the detained opposition leader called on the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and world nations to increase their efforts to enable the Bahraini people to choose their government democratically, saying it is a moral responsibility to support a nation’s right to peaceful assembly and protection from suppression.
Salman’s next court session has been adjourned to late February.
He was arrested on December 28, 2014, after Manama accused him of seeking regime change and collaborating with foreign powers.
Salman’s arrest has triggered massive condemnation inside and outside the monarchy, with leaders, governments and international organizations across the world calling for his immediate release.
Bahrain, a close ally of the United States in the Persian Gulf region, has been witnessing almost daily protests against the ruling Al Khalifa dynasty since early 2011, with Manama using heavy-handed measures in an attempt to crush the demonstrations.