MID-EAST PROTESTS: Egypt-inspired protests rock Bahrain, Iran, and Yemen 15Feb11 February 16, 2011

Palestine News Network -  15 February 2011


At least two people have been killed in 50,000-strong anti-government protests in Bahrain while tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Iran, Yemen, and Jordan in a day of protest inspired by the successful revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia.

The Guardian reported on Tuesday that the main Bahraini opposition party, the Shi’I al-Wafiq, denounced “bullying tactics and barbaric policies [of] the security forces” and would suspend its parliamentary participation in protest of the two people killed in recent demonstrations. It holds nearly half of the parliament’s seats.

Yesterday, a local protester named Ali Abdul Hadi Mushaima was killed by gunfire, prompting a 10,000-strong funeral protest which led to the death of another man, 31-year-old Fadhel Salman Matrook, during a scuffle with security forces near a hospital. Bahraini authorities have promised investigations into both deaths.

Protesters in Bahrain demanded constitutional change, an elected prime minister, the end of torture and the release of political prisoners. The tiny island country of just under 530,000 citizens is majority Shi’i with a ruling monarchy of Sunnis, and has been a proxy battleground for the neighboring religious influences of Iran and Saudi Arabia in the past. If the 50,000 number quoted by Bahraini activist Nabeel Rajab on Twitter is accurate, it would represent one-tenth of the population in the streets.

In Iran, a 26-year-old protester named Saneh Jaleh was shot dead by government security forces while demonstrations numbering between 20,000 and 30,000 people took place throughout the country. Protests in the winter of 2009, called the Green Revolution, were crushed by the regime of President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, who was elected under disputed circumstances. Inspired by the success of the Mubarak-ousting protests in Egypt, Iranians chanted “both in Tehran and Cairo, dictators must go.”

The Ahmedinejad regime has tried to blame the protests on opposition parties and put leader Mir Hossein Mousavi under house arrest. Some in the government have called for the death penalty against him and judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei said, “Those who created public disorder on Monday will be confronted firmly and immediately.”

The state news agency IRNA called Mousavi a “corrupt on earth,” a charge frequently leveled against political opposition figures.

American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton came out strongly against government violence in Iran, accusing the Ahmedinejad regime of “hypocrisy” for praising the victory of anti-government protesters in Egypt. American support for ousted Arab dictators Zine Abdine Ben Ali of Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt did not feature in her comments.

“[Iranian protesters] deserve to have the same rights that they saw being played out in Egypt and are part of their own birthright,” said Clinton. “[The US government] very clearly and directly supports the aspirations of the people who are in the streets.”

In response, supreme leader Ayatollah Khameini of Iran accused the United States of interference.

“The US seeks to hijack the great movement of the Egyptians,” he said. “The Islamic Republic of Iran is against the interference of foreign sides in Egypt and believes that this is the Egyptian nation that should be main decision-maker.”

Meanwhile in Yemen, one of the poorest Arab countries in the Middle East, four anti-government protesters were injured when they clashed with pro-government supporters in the capital of Sana’a. The Sana’a protest comprised of about 1,000 people marching toward the presidential palace, from which President Ali Abdullah Saleh has ruled for 32 years. Twelve others were injured in the southern city of Taiz.

Protesters demanded that Saleh leave immediately. His promise not to pass power to his son has not appeased them. More than 45% of Yemen’s 23 million people live on less than $2 a day, and about 44% of the population is under 15 years old.

“Hey Ali, get out, get out!” some protesters shouted. “There is no solution but to leave.”


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