International

Bahrain Arrests Dissidents

Bahraini troops block streets leading to Pearl Square in the capital Manama on March 16, 2011. i i

Bahraini troops block streets leading to Pearl Square in the capital Manama on March 16, 2011. JOSEPH EID/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption JOSEPH EID/AFP/Getty Images
Bahraini troops block streets leading to Pearl Square in the capital Manama on March 16, 2011.

Bahraini troops block streets leading to Pearl Square in the capital Manama on March 16, 2011.

JOSEPH EID/AFP/Getty Images

Bahraini authorities have arrested at least six opposition activists, according to AP. As we wrote yesterday, NPR's Frank Langfitt, who's in the capital, Manama, described the crackdown Bahrain imposed on protesters who are calling for reform and an end to discrimination. This comes after 1,000 foreign troops, mostly Saudi, entered Bahrain to support Bahrain's king, who is Sunni. The majority of Bahrainis are Shiite.

The Guardian's Brian Whitaker believes the Saudi intervention has made things worse for Bahrain's king:

This is unbelievably short-sighted. The majority of Bahrain's population cannot be kept marginalised for ever, and the sooner change gets under way the better it will be for everyone. Instead, the regime is being pushed into an intransigent stance which, in the longer term, may well seal its fate.

Bahrain could seal its fate with others. AP says regional power Iran has recalled its ambassador to Bahrain for consultations. The Wall Street Journal notes Iran supports the Shiite opposition.

To drive home its point, Bahrain has also blocked access to hospitals so wounded protesters can't get medical help. Reuters says the UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay is furious.

"There are reports of arbitrary arrests, killings, beatings of protesters and of medical personnel, and of the takeover of hospitals and medical centers by various security forces," she said in a statement. "This is shocking and illegal conduct."

Pillay warns that's illegal and could be punished.

Update at 1:48 P.M. ET: The BBC reports that clashes continue in the capital city of Manama. "But" they report, "not on the same scale as the pitched battles on Tuesday and Wednesday, which drew strong international condemnation and set Bahrain's rulers at odds with the US, their key western backers."

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