BAHRAIN: Protesters demand release of all political prisoners
Buoyed by their recent success in securing the release of almost two dozen high-profile activists, thousands of protesters Wednesday marched on the Interior Ministry in Bahrain's capital, Manama, demanding the release of all political prisoners, the Associated Press reported.
The 23 released from jail last week had been on trial on charges of trying to overthrow Bahrain’s monarchy, the AP reported, adding that the Shiite opposition says that at least 200 other political detainees remain behind bars.
Also Wednesday, the official Bahrain News Agency reported that more than 350,000 citizens participated in a “national unity gathering" in Manama, in a move “to reiterate their loyalty to the leadership and express total rejection of any social divide.”
The Bahraini news agency said that citizens from all factions and religions participated in the gathering, where they underscored “commitment to the legitimacy of the political system and the ruling family.”
The rally-goers also called for all sides to engage in a national dialogue “without any preset conditions,” the official news agency said.
In related news, the agency reported that the Gulf European Center for Human Rights had strongly condemned the participation of children and students in unauthorized demonstrations and sit-ins.
“The watchdog slammed illegal groups for flouting the agreement on children’s rights and the international criteria on protecting children,” the Bahrain News Agency reported.
The Bahrain Human Rights Watchdog has lodged a complaint on the issue with the Geneva-based United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, the news agency said.
— Ann M. Simmons
Photos: Top, Women are among protesters marching to Interior Ministry building in the capital, Manama, demanding the release of all political detainees. Credit: Mazen Mahdi/EPA
Bottom, Thousands of pro-government Bahrainis rally in the capital Manama, on March 2 2011. Credit: Adam Jan/AFP