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April 15, 2013

Violent Protests in Bahrain Increase Polarization

Washington, D.C. – Promises of more violent “operations” like yesterday’s bombing in the Financial Harbour of Manama, Bahrain, are a deeply disturbing sign that violent protest is gaining a stronger foothold in the country, Human Rights First said today. The Financial Harbour bomb was accompanied by three others explosions around Bahrain’s capital city yesterday. The February 14 youth movement reportedly claimed responsibility for the bomb on its Twitter account and has pledged “more operations.”

“Thankfully no one was injured in these explosions, but there have been casualties in previous violent protests,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley. “If these bombings continue, there will inevitably be more injuries and deaths. Such attacks are wrong, increase the polarization in an already deeply divided society, and aren’t the way to achieve democracy in Bahrain.”

In November 2012, leading Bahrain opposition groups issued a Declaration on Nonviolence Principles. The groups signed the statement that includes “Never to adopt any means of violence …[and] to condemn violence, in all its forms…” Despite that leadership, some other groups have resorted to violence in response to the crisis in Bahrain. Yesterday’s explosion in the heart of Manama’s financial district is the latest in a series of increasingly high-profile attacks.

Since February 2011, scores of people have been killed, thousands arrested and many tortured in a government crackdown against calls for democratic reform. Although the vast majority of dissent against the regime has been peaceful, violent protest has increased in recent months.

For more information or to speak with Dooley, please contact Brenda Bowser Soder at bowsersoderb@humanrightsfirst.org or 202-370-3323.