Large crowds of Bahraini demonstrators have taken to the streets in solidarity with political prisoners and jailed activists, sparking clashes with regime forces.
On Friday, the regime forces launched another heavy-handed crackdown on demonstrators, who had taken to the streets to express solidarity with detainees and demand the immediate release of Sheikh Ali Salman, the leader of al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, the country’s main opposition group.
The massive protest rallies were held in several towns and villages across the Persian Gulf country after Friday prayers.
Witnesses say the rally in Diraz turned violent after Al Khalifa forces fired teargas and birdshots to disperse the anti-regime protesters.
The protesters carried placards of Sheikh Salman, who has been under arrest since December 28 last year.
The top opposition leader has been in custody over allegations of inciting hatred against the government and calling for the overthrow of the regime. Al-Wefaq has rejected the charges as malicious and outright lies.
The European Union has warned that Sheikh Salman’s arrest will worsen Bahrain’s already fragile political and security situation. Several human rights groups, including Amnesty International, have also called for his immediate release.
The angry demonstrators also demanded the release of those held at Jaw prison as well as all political prisoners held in other jails.
On Tuesday, sources close to Bahrain’s opposition revealed that regime security forces had attacked inmates at Jaw prison and injured dozens of the jailed activists.
Al-Wefaq said the crackdown came after security forces attacked visitors, who were trying to see their relatives inside the prison, which is located in a remote area south of the capital, Manama.
Protests began in Bahrain in 2011 against the Western-backed family of Al Khalifa, who have ruled the tiny Persian Gulf Kingdom under a monarchy system for decades.
Scores of Bahrainis have also been killed and hundreds of others injured and arrested in the ongoing crackdown on peaceful demonstrations.