As you all probably already know, things turned extremely nasty early Thursday morning (ca. 3.00 am), when the police brutally attacked the protesters while they were still sleeping. In a concerted and clearly well planned operation, the protesters were forced to flee. The police used tear gas, rubber bullets and bird shot. A further three people were killed. There must have been some resistance by the protesters, though, as there were a lot of stones strewn around.
I think what makes it so shocking was that up to that point the protesters had kept their activities completely peaceful (see previous blog) and there was no need for this kind of brutality. Moreover, there were women and children in amongst the crowd. It's not as if they were charging down streets smashing things or setting cars on fire, etc.
Anyway, I went down to the Pearl Roundabout to see the aftermath. Basically it was cordoned off by police, and I was quickly waved away by police (see top picture) as soon as they saw I had a camera. But I did manage to get a few shots.
The Foreign Minister has since gone on television justifying the attack, saying it was to avoid sectarianism developing. A highly paradoxical statement, given that it is precisely because the Shi-ites feel they are treated as second class citizens that they demonstrated. Surely a much wiser course would have have been to arrange negotiations and try to meet at least some of the Shi-ite demands, considering they do make up 70% of the population.
Now, it is more likely that the protesters resolve will be hardened. However, it could well be that the government is simply going to be too strong for the demonstrators. Fobodingly, the other gulf states have guaranteed their support for the Bahraini government. Should their be more demos, we may will see Saudi tanks coming in too.
Will update soon,