Bahrain Denies Arrests in Jerusalem Day Protest
The Bahraini government on Monday denied opposition reports that dozens of arrests were made during a mass demonstration in Manama to mark Jerusalem Day.
"While there is zero tolerance on preserving security and private property, there was no person arrested or detained for taking part in the demonstrations" last Friday, a government spokesman told the official GNA news agency.
An exiled opposition group has charged that Bahraini riot police fired rubber bullets and arrested dozens of protestors during a demonstration by thousands of people outside a Shiite mosque.
The protest was organized as part of Jerusalem Day, launched by Iran after its Islamic revolution of 1979 and celebrated on the last Friday of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
"Riot police used tear-gas and rubber bullets against the demonstrators and arrested several dozens and questioned them," said Mansur al-Jamri, spokesman for the London-based Bahrain Freedom Movement.
"The repression shows the lack of credibility of the authorities who have announced the forthcoming restoration of parliament and a referendum," Jamri said.
Bahrain on December 19 announced democratic reforms to restore an elected parliament, which was dissolved in 1975, and to turn the emirate into a constitutional monarchy.
A national charter on the reforms is expected to go to a referendum in February or March.
The mainly Shiite Muslim opposition has long campaigned for parliament to be restored, sparking unrest that cost at least 38 lives between 1994 and 1999. The unrest has eased since last year -- MANAMA (AFP)
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