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BAHRAIN: Another killed as funeral for fallen protester devolves into clashes [Updated]

February 15, 2011 |  6:51 am

Picture 17  
A second protester was killed Tuesday when a funeral procession for a protester killed Monday erupted into new clashes with Bahraini police, according to local media.

Fadhel Matrook was one of several thousand supporters who joined the funeral procession for Ali Abdulhadi Mushaima, who was shot and killed Monday amid widespread protests against government abuse. Human rights activists said police moved in on the procession as crowds of mourners were exiting the hospital.

Nabeel Rajab, from the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, and other activists told CNN that Matrook was shot by either pellet guns or birdshot.

A graphic image posted online appeared to show the back of an unidentified protester punctured by many tiny holes similar to wounds inflicted by bird-shot, but the photograph could not be authenticated. Other footage and pictures posted online showed evidence of a violent suppression of the protests in Bahrain, now in their second day.

[Updated at 7 a.m.: King Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa, in a television address, pledged that demands for political reform that are at the heart of the protests will be addressed in new legislation. "Our first concern is the safety of the homeland and our citizens and for everybody to get their rights," said the king.]

Bahrain, a close ally of the United States and home to the Navy's Fifth Fleet, has for years come under fire for its human rights abuses from international advocacy organizations.

But over the last eight months and especially in the weeks leading up to October's parliamentary elections, the Sunni-dominated government has escalated its crackdown on Bahrain's Shiite majority, which complains of discrimination and abuse at the hands of the authorities. The protests in Bahrain coincide with similar movements in Yemen, Iran and Algeria following successful uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt that toppled longtime rulers there.

Ebtihal, 28, who took part in Monday's protests but didn't want her last named because of fears of retribution, said her family was never involved in politics before her brother was arrested for posting online the names of police he accused of beating and torturing citizens. Now, she says, she is responding to what she sees as widespread social injustice.

"It's everything in our lives, the discrimination against us -- we don't have the option to have jobs," she said. "If this revolution succeeds I was thinking I can be a minister some day. Today I cannot even get a job as a secretary working for any security-related ministry or even any government job because of the simple fact that my brother is a political prisoner."

Describing Monday's protest, Ebtihal said she, her family and about 100 other protesters were peacefully demonstrating near Manama when police attacked them.

The protesters "did not even step in the road so as not to disturb traffic," she said. "They started with tear gas and rubber bullets, and everyone started to run away but a few men didn't move."

When the police started beating a neighbor who refused to stand down, Ebtihal said her mother and father tried to intervene, only to be threatened and subjected to blows.

"We were one of those families who thought we can live peacefully just by doing nothing, but in Bahrain that is not true," she said.

-- Meris Lutz in Beirut

Photo: At least one mourner was killed when police forcefully dispersed a funeral procession for Ali Abdulhadi Mushaima, a protester killed Monday in widespread demonstrations against government abuse. Credit: Video: Police used tear gas and rubber bullets to break up protests on Monday. One person was killed. Credit: YouTube