Middle East

Bahraini Shia cleric calls for reform

shiitenews_Bahraini_Shia_cleric_calls_for_reformThe leader of Bahrain’s main opposition group has called on the regime to stop its brutal crackdown on civilians, saying political reform is the only way to move forward.

“Security (forces) will not bring the solution … without political reform, this bad situation will continue and there will not be real stability,” Sheikh Ali Salman, who heads the country’s largest Shia political group, al-Wefaq, said.

Al-Wefaq leader added that according to a survey, the majority of the protesters seek political reform and a constitutional monarchy, AFP reported on Saturday.

Addressing the security forces, Salman said, “You have frightened the people with tanks, so you have to keep tanks around. This would be far from normal.”

He expressed his distrust of the electoral process and announced that his group is not planning to take part in the upcoming by-elections.

The opposition has already pulled all of its 18 lawmakers out of the parliament in protest at the violence against demonstrators.

Two lawmakers were arrested shortly after announcing their resignations and were taken to an unknown location.

On Friday the Saudi-backed Bahraini forces attacked anti-government protesters in several villages across Bahrain.

Since the beginning of anti-regime protests in mid-February, Manama has launched a harsh crackdown on anti-government protesters, rounding up senior opposition figures and activists in dawn raids and arresting doctors, nurses, lawyers and journalists who have voiced support for the protest movement.

Protesters have been charged with several counts such as attempting to overthrow the monarchy, and they are being tried in a special security court set up under martial law.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have criticized the Bahraini government for its brutal crackdown on civilians.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, which visits detainees in conflict situations, has been trying to see and contact Bahraini detained activists since mid-March. But so far Manama has refused to grant it permission.

Meanwhile, Bahrain’s state news agency says that military prosecutors have asked the country’s highest court to review death penalties issued against two anti-regime protesters.

Human Rights Watch as also called on the country to stop trying civilians in military courts.

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