Residents call to end protests in Budaiya
Manama, April 10, 2014
Dozens of residents living in one of Bahrain's most troubled areas have signed a petition calling for an end to protests on Budaiya Highway.
It has been submitted to Interior Minister Shaikh Rashid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa asking him to take appropriate action, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
The petition says residents are frustrated by constant demonstrations that not only disrupt traffic but also frequently turn violent when anti-government protesters clash with police.
"We, the residents of Budaiya, are suffering from the daily terrorism of roads being blocked, tyres set on fire, gas cylinders and homemade bombs exploded, which harms us and affects our routine," it says.
"If a rally is authorised for two hours, it still goes on for over six hours until the situation is brought under control by security authorities."
The petition, which was signed by 88 people, says residents do not want a blanket ban on protests, but an alternative location should be found.
"We are not asking to ban rallies, but requesting authorities to find alternative locations for such activities," it says.
Parliament's human rights committee chairman MP Ahmed Al Sa'ati backed the petition, saying the organisers of rallies that turn violent should be taken to court.
"They should be sued for violating local laws," he said.
"I expect such petitions to come from all over Bahrain as people are angry and fed up with what is going on.
"Businesses located in riot-hit areas are affected and residents have a tough time getting to their homes because some minority groups continue to misuse the right of freedom of expression."
The MP said existing laws stipulate that demonstrations cannot take place near hospitals, schools, residential areas and other places.
"Some people are abusing the right of freedom of expression which is an important tool for individuals and respects human rights principles," he said.
Shaikh Rashid earlier said police were identifying locations where rallies and gatherings could take place without hindering the rights of others.
Al Sa'ati said he acknowledged the efforts of the Interior Minister in maintaining law and order, but said it was a difficult balance to strike.
"People should have the right to express freely without violating the laws and affecting others," he said.
"If we start controlling or limiting demonstrations, then it will move to social media... free speech is guaranteed in any civilised state."
A report by the Human Rights Affairs Ministry published earlier this year revealed 1,319 unauthorised rallies took place across Bahrain last year, compared to 89 legal ones. - TradeArabia News Service