Saturday, 24 June, 2017

Iran condemns raid on Bahrain's Sheikh Isa Qassim residence

Protester killed as police raid Bahrain sit-in: NGO Bahrain police open fire on Shia sit-in: witnesses
Kelvin Reese | 24 May, 2017, 12:15

At least five persons have been killed and dozens injured as police in Bahrain opened fire at supporters of the country's prominent Shia cleric, Ayatollah Isa Ahmed Qassim, officials said.

He was also stripped of citizenship previous year, sparking the sit-in outside of his residence in Diraz.

Police opened fire at demonstrators throwing stones and petrol bombs at security forces, reports said.

On Sunday, a Bahraini court convicted Sheikh Qassim of illegal collection of funds and money laundering and sentenced him to one year in jail suspended for three years.

The Britain-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) said Trump had "effectively (given) King Hamad a blank cheque to continue the repression of his people".

According to Bahrain's Interior Ministry, so far 50 people have been arrested in the village during ongoing clashes between regime forces and protesters. It is not yet clear whether Sheikh Qassim himself is among the detainees.

Tehran on Tuesday expressed dismay over Bahraini forces' raid on the residence of Sheikh Isa Qassim, the spiritual leader of the country's Shia majority in the small caliphate, saying it further "complicates" the situation in the country.

Amnesty International identified that protester as Mohamed Zayn al-Deen, 39, and said he had died of birdshot wounds to the head.

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Video and pictures distributed by activists online showed a about 20 masked policemen outside the gate of a house, in what they said was the raid.

The interior ministry said earlier Tuesday it had "launched a security operation in the village of Diraz to preserve security and civil order as the site is a safe haven for fugitives".

Bahrain long has accused Iran of aiding militants, something the Islamic Republic denies.

Bahraini MP Abdullah bin Huwail said in a statement that the security operation showed the government's resolve to confront an Iranian-backed security threat.

Although the USA has a long history of looking the other way on human rights when it is strategically or economically beneficial, the Trump administration has at times signaled that it is willing to do away with even the most milquetoast of condemnations if it could jeopardize potential deals.

In his first visit overseas to the Saudi capital Riyadh, U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday Washington's relations with Bahrain were set to improve, after tensions with his predecessor Barack Obama over the kingdom's rights record.

Meanwhile, activists have been imprisoned or forced into exile.

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