Bahraini and Saudi Arabian forces have begun storming the sit-in outside the home of one of the country’s most senior opposition leaders.
Pictures and videos from the scene show armed men dressed in black firing at youths who respond by throwing stones near the residence of Ayatollah Isa Qassim in the town of al-Duraz.
Eye-witnesses are reporting that the town is completely under siege.
TheÂ house has been a focal point for pro-reform campiagners since last June when the government stripped Ayatullah Qassim of his citizenship on the grounds of fomenting sectarian unrest and serving Iranian interests.
Since then, in a gesture of defiance against the Bahraini regime hundreds of protestors have staged a continuous sit-in outside the house.
Ayatollah Qassim has been a leading voice for reform in the island monarchy calling for greater civil and political rights for the majority Shia community. The move against him was part of an ongoing campaign of repression aimed at stifling calls for reform of Bahrain’s autocratic monarchical system.
Tensions increased this month after the government executed three men, Abbas al-Samea, 27, Ali al-Singace, 21, and Sami Mushaima 42. All had been found guilty of planting a bomb which killed three policemen but their convictions were widely seen as politically motivated, based on retracted confessions and mired in allegations of serious torture.
The international community’s silence on the ongoing repression of the Bahraini people appears to have simply emboldened the regime to continue on its current course.
IHRC chair Massoud Shadjareh said: “It is high time international community took a stand against the al-Khalifa regime and supported the people in their legitimate quest for freedoms and fundamental rights instead of acquiescing in their oppression.”
Notes to editors:
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