By Phillip Walter Wellman
Security forces have fired shots in Manama on Friday, where demonstrators were gathering for an anti-government rally, in defiance of a government ban on protests. Hospital officials say there are casualties.
Mourners began chanting opposition slogans during a funeral procession for three of the victims in a village outside Manama on Friday morning.
During the march, a friend of 22-year-old Mahmood Makki Abu Taki, who was one of the men killed, urged Bahrainis to continue pushing for reform.
“We are not pretending. We have rights,” he said. “We are human beings and we are Bahrainis. And we will not stop this until the last person of ours will be dead. We will fight for our rights. We are sick of the promises.”
Abu Taki’s father, Ahmed Abu Taki also called on people to keep pressing the government for more rights. He said it is what his son would have wished for.
“I dreamed with him last night,” said Ahmed Abu Taki. “He came to me and said, ‘papa don’t cry. Tell our brothers to continue on this way.'”
Bahrain’s military took control of parts of the capital on Thursday, hours after riot police fired birdshot, rubber bullets and tear gas at a large group of anti-government protesters camped at the city’s Pearl Roundabout.
In addition to the dead from Thursday’s violence, human rights campaigners say about 60 people are still missing and hundreds are injured.
Bahrain’s foreign minister, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa defended the regime’s use of force, saying it was necessary because the mostly Shi’ite demonstrators were pushing the country to the “brink of a sectarian abyss.”
Shi’ite Muslims make up roughly two-thirds of Bahrain’s population and say they are not given the same social benefits as the country’s Sunni minority. They also accuse the government of naturalizing foreign Sunnis and giving them the top jobs in the country.
Earlier this week, 18 members of the leading Shi’ite al-Wefaq party quit parliament to protest the recent violence against demonstrators.
One of the members, Jasim Husain Ali, says the government is not doing what is best for the country.
“Bahrain is the loser,” said Ali. “Bahrain’s economy is the loser. Bahrain’s financial sector is the loser: investment, the country’s reputation, possibly credit rating. It was really a wrong decision to go and attack civilians.”
The nation’s main hospital was struggling Friday to deal with the mounting casualties.