Brussels, 16 March 2011 (ITUC OnLine): Security forces with tanks have
over-run the Pearl roundabout in the centre of Manama, capital of
Bahrain, where pro-democracy protesters have been camped and have
demonstrated peacefully for the past month, asking for political reforms
and equal rights. Using Apache helicopters and live ammunition, the
crackdown immediately follows the declaration of a three-month state of
emergency yesterday by King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa and the dispatching
of troops from other Gulf Cooperation Council countries, including a
thousand heavily armed Saudi soldiers.
Live rounds were used in parts of the city, with at least six people
reported killed and hundreds injured. Mobile phone and internet access
are restricted, and palls of smoke rose from protestors’ tents that were
set ablaze by the security forces. Particularly brutal repression has
been reported in Shia villages.
The ITUC strongly condemns this intensified violence, organised and
perpetrated by the Bahraini authorities with the support of neighbouring
Troops have reportedly entered the main Salmaniya hospital. Doctors have
launched an emergency call for help, describing the situation as very
critical due to lack of blood, power cuts and pressure from security
forces to prevent them treating many severely wounded demonstrators.
Yesterday and today, ambulances from the hospital were prevented from
transporting casualties, with the wounded now reportedly being treated
in mosques and houses.
“The actions of the authorities are appalling, and the deliberate
targeting of hospitals to stop injured people being treated is simply
inhuman. The Bahraini authorities and those from neighbouring countries
who have helped to orchestrate the killing and maiming of innocent
civilians must be held accountable under international law. Those
responsible must be confronted with the full weight of international
pressure to immediately stop these criminal acts and to lift the state
of emergency,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.
The national coalition of civil society organisations, including the
ITUC-affiliated national trade union federation GFBTU, launched an
emergency appeal this morning to stop the systematic murder of people
struggling for legitimate democratic rights. Pro-democracy groups have
urged the international community, the Arab League and the UN to
intervene to stop the massacre, and asked for emergency humanitarian
support to break the siege on hospitals and the assaults against medical
(www.scoop.co.nz / 16.03.2011)