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Bahrain: Authorities Suppress Popular Celebration of Bahrain’s Independence Day

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Since 2009, it has become the custom to carry out peaceful protests demanding self-determination on 14 August in celebration of Bahrain’s Independence Day. On 14 August 1971, Bahrain was announced as an independent sovereign Arab country, free from the British occupation. This historic decision was issued by the United Nations to crown the struggle and sacrifices of the people of Bahrain to obtain their right to self-determination.

From 2009 and beyond, this day has witnessed the presence of security forces countrywide. They routinely suppressed all protests using shotgun pellets and tear gas which caused injuries among protesters that ranged in severity. In addition, protesters have been arrested for the charge of illegal assembly. The authorities in Bahrain do not hold any kind of celebration on this day.

On 13 August 2010, the authorities launched the most repressive campaign in the history of Bahrain, which started with the arrest of the activist Dr. AbdulJalil Al-Singace because he "was intending to organize an event on the so-called National Day of the Kingdom of Bahrain in this month." The authorities in Bahrain claimed that it was "to promote national division" and proceeded to arrest hundreds of activists and dissidents, who were detained for months. They were released during the temporary period of breakthrough in February 2011, as a result of the popular uprising; but it was short-lived and soon was brutally suppressed, with many more arrests following.

In 2013, a group of citizens announced the formation of the "Tamarod" (Rebellion) group that set 14 August 2013 to be the start to its activities. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) documented a fast escalation of violations by the authorities a month and a half before the start date. There were reports of an increase in violence, arbitrary arrests, house raids, and blocking villages with barbed wires and cement barriers. Also, the Bahraini authorities passed new to restrict opposition activities.

 

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