ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Police in Bahrain used water cannon and tear gas on Friday to disperse hundreds of protesters after a memorial for a Shi‘ite man jailed over last year’s pro-democracy uprising, witnesses said.
Clashes erupted when police tried to stop protesters reaching Pearl Roundabout, the focus of the mass protests that began in February last year. One water cannon caught fire as protesters threw petrol bombs and stones and a policeman was injured, witnesses said.
Bahrain’s Information Authority said Mohammed Ali Ahmed Mushaima, 23, had been in hospital since August and died of complications from sickle cell disease. Opposition activists say the authorities caused his death by denying him proper treatment. His funeral was held on Tuesday.
Mushaima was jailed for seven years in March 2011 for “vandalism, rioting, assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest”, one of hundreds of people detained in weeks of mass protests inspired by uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.
Despite a crackdown on the protests, that included two months of martial law, clashes between police and protesters occur almost daily in Bahrain, where the U.S. Fifth Fleet is based.
The protesters, mainly from the Shi‘ite majority, had demanded a bigger role for elected representatives and less power for the ruling al-Khalifa family, who are Sunni Muslims.
Shi‘ites complain of discrimination in the electoral system, jobs, housing, education and government departments.
Clashes between police and protesters also broke out after Mushaima’s funeral on Tuesday.
Reporting By Maha El Dahan; Editing by Janet Lawrence