As part of it’s crackdown on pro-democracy protests, the Bahrani army has demolished the statue in Pearl Roundabout that has been a rallying point for demonstrators.
The diggers prepare to bring the statue down.
The statue collapses in a cloud of dust.
With the statue gone, the Bahrain authorities hope to show they mean to do all it takes to discourage protestors from gathering in the area.
The square was evacuated before the army used drills and diggers to cut away the bases of the statue and trucks waited to take away the debris.
The statue of a pearl symbolised Bahrain’s past, before it became an oil exporter, when the country’s main source of income was from pearl diving. The destruction of the iconic statue is part of a crackdown by the Sunni monarchy against the mainly Shiite pro-demcracy protests. Shiites account for 70 per cent of Bahrain’s population, but are widely excluded from high-level posts and positions in the police and the military.
Friday saw thousands of Bahrainis gathering for the funeral of Ahmed Farhan, a 29 year old demonstrator who died on Tuesday in the town of Sitra.
Protests also took place across Iraq, where people rallied in mainly Shiite cities, in the country’s largest demonstrations since the overthrow of the Tunisian President that sparked upheaval across the Middle East.
The roundabout became a rallying point for demonstrators on February 17th and was the site of a violent crackdown by Government troops, who attacked the site as protestors slept in tents. Seven people were killed and hundreds more wounded.
Protestors re-occupied the square, leading to more violence when riot police, backed by tanks and helicopters came to clear them out on Wednesday. Three policeman and at least two protestors were reportedly killed. State television then showed the roundabout empty.
The UN human rights chief, Navi Pillay, has condemned the ‘shocking’ use of force against protestors by security forces.
On Wednesday police and army forces took over the Salmaniya Medical Complex, with reprots emerging that injured people were barred from entering. Ambulances were also not allowed in or out of the hospital, according to doctors there.
Foreigners have been advised to leave the country but a British Foreign Office plane left Bahrain empty on Thursday. A second flight left on Friday with 18 passengers. Remaining Britons have been told to leave on commercial flights unless they have a ‘pressing need to remain’.