Raid on Diraz
2016-12-25 - 9:59 p
Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): The Bahraini Interior Ministry claimed that its morning raid on December 21, 2016 on the Diraz area and the square, where an open-ended rally protest has been held since 6 months ago, was launched for the purpose of "implementing judicial orders to arrest wanted persons and search their residencies." The ministry's claim was based on a statement made by the general director of the Northern Governorate police directorate posted on its official Twitter account.
In fact, the Diraz region has been under a strict "security" siege for over 180 days and during the past few days, the authorities have stepped up their security measures by preventing the entry of drinking water tanks and gas cylinders. These intensified strict measures were taken before Interior Ministry forces raided the site using dozens of armoured vehicles that blocked all entrances to the village.
Police forces began to arrive at the scene at around 9:30 am, which is not the time security forces usually launch raids to arrest want they call "wanted suspects". It is difficult to believe that the large number of security and armoured vehicles that raided the area as if it were a war zone was sent to apprehend just a handful of people, including a 14-year-old teenager.
These forces attacked the rally site outside the house of the Bahraini Shia spiritual leader Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim and flooded the area with toxic tear gas. Security forces were advancing towards Sheikh Qassim's home but protesters created a human shield preventing them from entering. Fierce clashes erupted between the crowds and security forces, which prompted residents of the area, including women and children, to take to the streets in the area, chanting anti-government slogans. After the confrontation that lasted for hours and the state of alert that Bahrainis witnessed in the area, security forces withdrew gradually.
This sudden action taken by the government against its citizens incurred the rage of the public, as dozens of protests were staged in various areas across the country. Protestors held pictures of Sheikh Qassim and chanted slogans denouncing the raid. A number of other demonstrations were held that called for the downfall of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. Clashes broke out between protestors and police forces in a number of areas. Security forces fired shotgun (birdshot) pellets and tear gas canisters at demonstrators. In Diraz, the open-rally gained momentum again as hundreds gathered in the square facing Ayatollah Qassim's home, voicing their support for the most prominent Shia cleric in the country.
The Interior Ministry did not give any statement concerning this provocative move it took, only posting a Tweet stating that it "implemented judicial orders to arrest wanted persons," leaving Bahrainis in the dark regarding the reasons behind the attack. Was there an initial order to raid Sheikh Isa Qassim's house that was cancelled at the last minute? Or was this raid on the rally site aimed at checking the pulse of protestors in Diraz and testing the extent of the residents' reactions in the event Sheikh Qassim's home is raided? Is it a demonstration of the regime's power or are there other motives behind the raid? These are all possible scenarios that can be taken into consideration.
The arbitrary measures of the regime remain the main inciter of tensions in the Bahraini political regime. Every time the authorities' oppressive policies, intensified security measures and sectarian incitement prove that the Government does not intend to work towards a solution to the pending deep-rooted crisis in Bahrain, but is rather striving to further complicate the situation, deepening the chasm even more.
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