Bahraini riot police stand guard as mourners take part in the funeral of Ali al-Qassab, a demonstrator who was killed
Bahraini riot police stand guard as Shiite Muslim mourners take part in the funeral of Ali al-Qassab, a demonstrator who was killed during the clashes with the security forces in Abu Saiba Village on December 17. Bahraini security forces on Sunday dispersed several hundred Shiite demonstrators who gathered outside the capital Manama for the fourth day in a row, an AFP correspondent said. © - AFP/File
Bahraini riot police stand guard as mourners take part in the funeral of Ali al-Qassab, a demonstrator who was killed
Ali Khalil, AFP
Last updated: December 18, 2011

Bahraini forces fire tear gas on Shiite protesters

Bahraini security forces on Sunday dispersed several hundred Shiite demonstrators who gathered outside the capital Manama for the fourth day in a row, an AFP correspondent said.

Riot police stormed a roundabout on the Budaiya highway where men and women had gathered and chanted slogans against the government of the Sunni-ruled kingdom.

On Thursday, female blogger Zainab al-Khawaja was roughed up, handcuffed and dragged off into custody from the same roundabout for refusing to end a sit-in.

Police fired tear gas on Sunday before they used batons to chase demonstrators out of the area.

Shiite youth groups had called for a series of consecutive protests on the highway which links Shiite villages with Manama's former Pearl Square, the focal point of a month-long pro-democracy uprising that was crushed in March.

The crackdown comes even after Bahrain's government promised reforms following the publication last month of a highly critical report into the protests in February and March.

The report said the death toll from the crackdown on the Shiite-led pro-democracy protests had reached 35, and that police had used "excessive force" and tortured detainees.

Police vehicles are still deployed at the roundabout and patrol the area.

Before police arrived, young men brandishing the red-and-white Bahraini flags and women in the traditional black abaya cloaks stood defiantly insisting that their movement was peaceful.

"I am a Bahraini citizen. It is my right to work in the army or the public sector. I would protect this homeland more than the foreign" recruits, said Mohammed Mulla Ahmed Ali, 19, who carried a Bahraini flag.

"We want to feel like citizens," he said, showing the scars of a deep cut in his stomach and birdshot pellets on his chest, saying he was struck on March 16 during the crackdown.

The marketing student said he was suspended from university, like many Shiites who faced suspension from schools or were fired from jobs for taking part in demonstrations. He also was in jail for three months.

Hawraa al-Halawati, 28, a female architect who also lost her job after three years as a public servant echoed protesters' demands for a change of the government, led by King Hamad's uncle Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa.

"We don't want this government. They sacked us from our jobs... There is no freedom of expression," she told AFP.

"We are not scared," she said, adding that taking part in protests has become a daily routine for her.

Bahraini police on Saturday stormed the same roundabout chasing hundreds of protesters who gathered following the funeral of a young man who was hit by a car while allegedly being chased by security forces.

Video footage posted online showed dozens of riot police in blue armoured gear and white helmets sweeping across the roundabout and chasing many protesters into a cafe across the street.

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