Bahrain: Violence prompted protest ban

Oct. 31, 2012 at 2:19 PM
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MANAMA, Bahrain, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- Bahrain said Wednesday its ban on all public protests was necessary because of increased violence at the pro-democracy rallies.

The comments by the government's information authority were in response to a call by the human rights group Amnesty International to lift the ban because it violated the right to free speech, CNN reported.

Two or more licensed protests have been held in the Persian Gulf nation each week since the beginning of the year, the authority said in a statement, a number of which were critical of the government.

The protests many times "devolved into violence and lawlessness" in which gasoline bombs were thrown, injuring police and civilians, the statement said.

Some 91 police officers were injured in demonstrations between May and July, the authority said. Two officers recently died after they were attacked with homemade bombs.

Violence has broken out at numerous demonstrations in Bahrain since February 2011.

Amnesty International said the ban amounted to a crackdown on individual freedom.

"Law enforcement officials must act to protect peaceful protesters rather than using the violent acts of a few as a pretext to restrict or impede the rights of all," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy director for the organization's Middle East and North Africa program.

In issuing the ban Tuesday, the interior ministry said the privilege of freedom of expression "has been abused repeatedly by organizers."

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