JNN 02 Sept 2012 Manama : Thousands of protesters from Shiite opposition groups marched in Bahrain on Friday to demand the release of jailed activists, witnesses told AFP. The march held under the slogan “Freedom and Democracy” was organised after a two-month break in demonstrations in the tiny Gulf monarchy ruled by a Sunni minority. It was held near a motorway connecting Shiite villages with Manama.
Protesters, including women, waved Bahraini flags and pictures of jailed activists from Shiite opposition groups, the witnesses said. They carried portraits of Nabil Rajab, a human rights activist sentenced to three years in prison for participating in illegal demonstrations, and placards reading “Free Nabil Rajab.”
“We do not forget the prisoners!” the demonstrators chanted.
Friday’s rally follows a two-month ban imposed by the interior ministry to “restore order” after complaints of damage at venues of demonstrations, according to officials. Shiite-majority Bahrain, which is ruled by a Sunni dynasty, has come under strong criticism from international rights groups over a bloody crackdown on protests last year inspired by the Arab Spring uprisings.
Where as AP : Thousands of anti-government protesters in Bahrain have filled a main highway in the country’s first state-approved march in weeks. The rally outside the capital Manama included chants and placards calling for the release of a prominent human rights activist, Nabeel Rajab, who is appealing a three-year sentence for allegedly encouraging violence.
Associated Press journalists said the line of protesters stretched for at least three kilometers (two miles). Friday’s march was the first government-approved protest event since a temporary ban was imposed earlier this summer. Other marches have been held on without government approval, often resulting in clashes with security. Bahrain has been hit by nearly nonstop unrest since February 2011 when majority Shiites began demonstrations for greater rights from the Western-backed Sunni monarchy.