Bahraini regime forces have once again attacked and clashed with a group of demonstrators demanding the release of the Persian Gulf kingdom’s prominent opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman.
On Thursday, dozens of people took to the street in the village of Bilad al-Qadeem, on the outskirts of the capital, Manama, to call for the freedom of the 49-year-old secretary general of Bahrain’s main opposition bloc, the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society.
Scuffles broke out when police fired tear gas canisters and rubber-coated bullets to disperse the protesting crowd.
Similar rallies were also staged in several other towns and villages across Bahrain in solidarity with Sheikh Salman.
Salman was arrested on December 28, 2014, after Manama accused him of seeking regime change and collaborating with foreign powers.
The arrest has triggered massive condemnation inside and outside the monarchy, with leaders, governments and international organizations across the world calling for his immediate release.
On January 31, Bahrain’s Interior Ministry issued a statement saying that 72 people were stripped of their citizenship because they failed “in their allegiance duties towards the kingdom” and “harmed its interests.”
Bahraini courts have sentenced more than 200 activists to long-term prison sentences on charges of involvement in terrorist activities and acting against national security. At least 70 activists have received life imprisonment since the uprising began in 2011.
A recent report by Human Rights Watch said Bahraini courts have become more active in sustaining repression in the country.