Committee to Protect Journalists on arrests of reporters in Bahrain: 'It is sad that the 5th anniversary of protests' marked by arrest of more journalists, 'which has since become one of the worst jailers of journalists in the Arab world' - AP
The Bahraini protests of 2011 was a series of demonstrations, amounting to a sustained campaign of civil and violent resistance in the Persian Gulf country of Bahrain. As part of the revolutionary wave of protests in the Middle East and North Africa following the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi in Tunisia, the Bahraini protests were initially aimed at achieving greater political freedom and equality for the majority Shia population, and expanded to a call to end the monarchy of Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa following a deadly night raid on 17 February 2011 against protesters at the Pearl Roundabout in Manama, known locally as Bloody Thursday.
Protesters in Manama camped for days at the Pearl Roundabout, which became the centre of the protests. After a month, the government of Bahrain requested troops police aid from the Gulf Cooperation Council. On 14 March 1,000 troops from Saudi Arabia and 500 troops from UAE entered Bahrain and crushed the uprising. A day later, King Hamad declared martial law and a three-month state of emergency. Pearl Roundabout was cleared of protesters and the iconic statue at its center was destroyed.
Occasional demonstrations have, however, continued since then. After the state of emergency was lifted on 1 June, the opposition party, Al Wefaq National Islamic Society, organized several weekly protests usually attended by tens of thousands. On 9 March 2012, over 100,000 attended and another on 31 August attracted tens of thousands. Daily smaller-scale protests and clashes continued, mostly outside Manama's business districts. By April 2012, more than 80 had died.
The police response was described as a "brutal" crackdown on "peaceful and unarmed" protesters, including doctors and bloggers. The police carried out midnight house raids in Shia neighbourhoods, beatings at checkpoints and denial of medical care in a campaign of intimidation. More than 2,929 people have been arrested, and at least five died due to torture in police custody.
In June, King Hamad established the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry composed of international independent figures to assess the incidents. The report was released on 23 November and confirmed the Bahraini government's use of systematic torture and other forms of physical and psychological abuse on detainees, as well as other human rights violations. It also rejected the government's claims that the protests were instigated by Iran. The report was criticised for not disclosing the names of individual abusers and extending accountability only to those who actively carried out human rights violations.
In early July 2013, Bahraini activists called for major rallies on 14 August under the title Bahrain Tamarod.