Bahraini forces attacked protesters calling for the immediate release of Sheikh Ali Salman, the secretary general of the country’s main opposition bloc, the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society.
Protesters staged a rally in the Northwestern Bahraini village of Diraz, situated about 12 kilometers (7 miles) Southeast of the capital, Manama, following Friday prayers, demanding the freedom of Salman.
The marchers, carrying portraits of Salman and Bahrain’s national flags, also denounced the al-Wefaq leader’s continued detention as a violation of civil rights.
The protest rally, however, turned violent after Bahraini regime forces stormed the gathering, firing teargas canisters to disperse the demonstrators.
People also held similar rallies in the villages of Karzakan, Jabalat Habashi and Saar, calling for Salman’s immediate release.
Salman was detained on December 28, 2014 on charges that included attempts to overthrow the incumbent regime and collaboration with foreign powers.
He has strongly denied the charges, emphasizing that he has been seeking reforms in the kingdom through peaceful means.
On June 5, the Office of the UN High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR) renewed calls on the Manama regime to immediately release the al-Wefaq leader.
The Bahraini regime has been suppressing peaceful demonstrations by anti-government protesters across Bahrain since mid-February 2011.
Violence against the defenseless people escalated after a Saudi-led conglomerate of police, security and military forces from the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) member states – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar – were dispatched to the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom on March 2011, to crack down on peaceful protestors for the Manama regime.
So far, hundreds of protesters have been killed, hundreds have gone missing and thousands of others have been injured by the Bahraini and Saudi soldiers. Thousands of people, including opposition party and religious leaders as well as renowned human rights activists, have been arrested while hundreds more have been sent to exile. All international human rights bodies have condemned the Al-Khalifa regime for exercising extreme violence against peaceful protests.