15 Feb 2011

Thousands gather at Bahrain’s ‘Tahrir Square’

After a second death in Bahrain protesters call for the end of the monarchy gathering in their thousands at the Pearl monument, which they are calling their own ‘Tahrir Square’.

A shooting during funeral procession leads to thousands joining protest (Getty)

A second day of protests in Bahrain has resulted in a second death and thousands more joining the crowds calling for the end of the monarchy and implementation of a democratic government.

As the first victim of the protests was being carried from the hospital on Tuesday morning, a second man was reportedly shot and killed by riot police.

Appearing in a TV address King Hamad Bin Issa Al-Khalifa said: “In light of the incidents that took place yesterday and today… There have been sadly two deaths. I express my deep condolences to their families.” He assured the people of Bahrain that the incidents would be investigated.

The King was warned on Sunday by the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights that “revoultionary protests” would take place over the week ahead.

Protests on Monday saw clashes between riot police and people on the streets in the capital Manama. Gas canisters were thrown, engulfing the crowds in seconds, whilst rubber pellet bullets were shot to stop the crowd reaching the centre of the city. The efforts were in vain as thousands of people took to the streets on Tuesday congregating at the landmark Pearl Roundabout.

Channel 4 News asked Maryam what the demands of the protesters were: “Well to begin with the protests were called for by the youth, the statement said ‘our demands are legitimate and we want serious reforms in the country such as a constitution written by the people, an elected PM not the king’s uncle who has been PM for 40 years, freedoms, rights, the release of political prisoners, the stop of the use of torture, the dissolving of the national security apparatus known for torturing people and bringing those responsible for torture to justice.

“They also warned that the minute the riot police were responsible for killing anyone in the country then their demands would change to the fall of the whole government, the regime. As soon as it was announced last night that the first young man had passed away due to a shot in the back by the riot police the chants immediately changed to we demand the fall of the government.”

Since the skirmish outside the hospital in the morning the presence of riot police has virtually disappeared on the streets of Manama with many protesters arriving at Pearl roundabout equipped with rugs, sheets and tents vowing to camp out until there is some regime change.

In a country of many social groups it appears that they are all united against the King and his government.

Maryam al-Khawajah described the demographic of the protesters directly from the scene: “This is one of the first times I have seen these many people from all kinds of groups from the Bahraini society, unite in this way, I’ve not seen this before. Around the roundabout you see leftists, Sunnis, Shia, girls who wear scarves, girls who don’t wear scarves, children, women, men, they are all gathered here today.”