Bahrain deports six Americans, arrests dozens of citizens

AFP , Wednesday 15 Feb 2012

Bahraini government says it has deported six American "activists" who entered the country on tourist visas in the past week and were sent home after participating in illegal demonstrations

Bahrain has deported six US citizens for joining pro-democracy demonstrations, a statement said Wednesday, as the opposition reported dozens of arrests on the first anniversary of a Shiite-led uprising.

The deportations bring the number of Americans expelled from Bahrain to eight after two human rights activists were ordered out the country on February 11 after being accused of "illegal" activities.

The six "activists" who were deported had entered the country on tourist visas in the past week and were sent home after "participating in illegal demonstrations," an Information Affairs Authority statement said.

They were briefly questioned at a local police station and "agreed to leave the country without further legal procedures," the statement added.

The expulsions came as Bahrain on Tuesday marked the first anniversary of last year's uprising against the government, and the brutal crackdown that followed which left 35 people dead, according to an independent commission of inquiry into the violence.

The main Shiite opposition Al-Wefaq said Bahraini police made dozens of arrests while dispersing protesters attempting to march on the capital's former Pearl Square, the focal point of the February 14th uprising that was crushed a month later.

"The total number of arrests ... is around 150, including women and children between the ages of 13 and 16," the statement said adding that some were later released.

Al-Wefaq said there were "large numbers of injuries to the demonstrators caused by birdshot pellets, tear gas canisters, stun grenades," but gave no figure.

Wounded protesters in Bahrain often seek medical treatment in private homes for fear of arrest or intimidation by the authorities if they check in to a hospital.

Prominent human rights activist Nabil Rajab, who on Tuesday led a demonstration towards the square, was briefly detained by police, Al-Wefaq said in a statement on its Facebook page.

In a morning tweet on Wednesday, Rajab said he has been "accused by the prosecutor of inciting people to protest ... and taking part in an unauthorised gathering."

In a statement issued late Tuesday, Al-Wefaq vowed that the Bahraini protest movement would continue, accusing the government of being "tyrannical."

Bahrain's chief of public security, Tariq al-Hassan, said there would be "no tolerance of vandals and law enforcement is the ultimate solution," according to an interior ministry tweet.

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