Bahrain king pledges reform as protester dies | Pakistan Today

Bahrain king pledges reform as protester dies

MANAMA – Bahrain’s king pledged to bring reforms and another demonstrator was on Saturday confirmed to have died in a crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, as international calls mounted for restraint. “I shall not allow a stop in the reform process which I began when I took the reins of power,” King Hamad said in a statement on the official BNA news agency. “The door is open to all subjects that are in the interest of all the citizens,” he said. A protester missing since Wednesday’s crackdown in Manama on a month-old pro-democracy movement was on Saturday confirmed dead, an opposition MP said, bringing to at least five the number of protesters killed this week.
The MP, Mattar Mattar, said the dead man “was one of those missing since Wednesday,” whose number he put at “around 60.” Police were posted outside the hospital, where doctors trying to help the injured protesters have allegedly been attacked. The government has denied the accusations. Bahrain faces mounting international pressure to exercise restraint and ensure the safety of jailed opposition leaders. Overnight, the United States said it was “deeply troubled” by the arrest of several opposition figures and activists in the Gulf kingdom, urging authorities to ensure transparent judicial proceedings.
“We call on the government of Bahrain to ensure the security of person of all arrestees and to abide by its commitment to transparent judicial proceedings conducted in full accordance with Bahraini law and Bahrain’s international legal obligations,” said State Department spokesman Mark Toner. Washington also called on Bahraini “security forces to cease violence, especially on medical personnel and facilities,” he said, urging “maximum restraint” by the Bahraini government and that protesters also “engage peacefully and responsibly.” Toner expressed particular concern over the arrests of Ibrahim Sharif, leader of Wa’ad, a recognised political society, and Ali al-Ekri, a doctor who was arrested after criticising conditions at Manama’ main Salmaniya hospital.
The government has launched a bloody crackdown to stop Shiite-led protests, declaring martial law and rounding up dissidents at gunpoint in midnight raids. And on Saturday, BNA reported that Bahrain Defence Forces have until further notice banned maritime activity in various areas of the Gulf archipelago’s waters from 5:00 pm (1400 GMT) to 6:00 am (0300 GMT). UN chief Ban Ki-moon said Thursday the crackdown might be breaking international law as he expressed “his deepest concern over reports of excessive and indiscriminate use of force.” Thousands of the Shiite-majority community protested in villages on Friday as riot police and army, backed by a joint Gulf force, kept tight control of the country ruled by the Sunni Al-Khalifa dynasty.

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