Bahrain releases all female prisoners bar AngryArabiya

A riot police officer holds a protester in a headlock during a raid on suspected pro-democracy protesters in the village of Sanabis, west of Manama, 15 February 2012. (Photo: Reuters - Hamad I Mohammed)

Published Friday, February 17, 2012

Bahrain released all females political prisoners bar one on Thursday, with prominent activist Zainab Al-Khawaja detained indefinitely, according to activists.

Twelve female protesters were released on Thursday evening in a move welcomed by pro-democracy campaigners.

Khawaja, who has become the leading female activist in the country after writing about the protests under the Twitter name @angryarabiya, remains in jail.

Khawaja was arrested last Sunday as she tried to approach the Pearl Roundabout, the scene of large-scale protests last year until Bahraini and Saudi security forces crushed the revolt.

Activists had been aiming to return to the square on the first anniversary of the beginning of the revolt.

The condition of Khawaja, whose father Abdulhadi was given a life sentence for allegedly plotting a coup against the government last year, is unknown.

“We have not many details about her but we expect her to be charged with something like inciting demonstrating,” former opposition MP Mattar Ebrahim told Al-Akhbar. “That was what they charged [President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights] Nabeel Rajab with.”

Shortly before her arrest on Sunday, Khawaja said she was concerned that the police service were inciting violence.

Elsewhere hundreds of former government employees marched to the Ministry of Labor on Thursday to demand their jobs back.

Almost 2,000 employees of state-funded institutions were dismissed or suspended from work last year on suspicion of supporting the protests, and many have yet to be reinstated.

A government commissioned report declared that all dismissed workers would be given their jobs back by the deadline on Thursday, yet hundreds were still awaiting reinstatement.

“There are a lot of promises but in terms of the facts on the ground the government are trying to work around the implementation,” Ebrahim said.

“They are trying to force employees to sign a new contract while the report said they should be reinstated directly.”

More protests were expected on Friday to commemorate the anniversary of the first police crackdown on protesters in Pearl Square.

Pro-democracy protests have regained momentum in Bahrain, after being initially suppressed last March by Bahraini forces, backed by troops from neighboring Gulf states.

At least 60 people have died in a year of uprising against the autocratic monarchy, according to the opposition, with activists accusing Bahrain of committing human rights abuses.

(Al-Akhbar)

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