Volume. 12230
Bahrain bans pro-democracy demos
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Bahrainis hold an anti-regime protest (file photo)
Bahrainis hold an anti-regime protest (file photo)
Bahrain imposed emergency-style rules Tuesday banning all protest gatherings and threatening legal action against groups considered backing escalating demonstrations in the Persian Gulf kingdom.
The order, announced by the Interior Ministry, is the most sweeping attempt to quash the kingdom's anti-government uprising since martial law rules were in effect during the early months of unrest last year, The Associated Press reported.  
Tougher steps against opposition groups could raise complications for Washington and other Western allies that have stood by Bahrain's monarchy during more than 20 months of uprising. The U.S. has important military bonds with Bahrain, which hosts the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.
A statement by the Interior Ministry said Bahraini society was "fed up" with near nonstop demonstrations and clashes and "there was a need to put an end to them." Bahrain's government has permitted limited protests and marches, but much of the violence occurs outside the authorized gatherings.
It added that any "illegal rally or gathering would be tackled through legal actions against those calling for and participating in it."
This warning appeared aimed particularly at the largest Shia political bloc, Al-Wefaq, which has organized many opposition marches. Another rally is planned for Friday.
An Al-Wefaq official, Hadi al-Musawi, struck a defiant tone, calling the Interior Ministry order "against international human rights."
Since mid-February 2011, thousands of anti-government protesters have been staging regular demonstrations in the streets of Bahrain, calling for the Al Khalifa royal family to relinquish power.
On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates invaded the country to assist the Bahraini government in its crackdown on the peaceful protesters.
According to local sources, scores of people have been killed and hundreds arrested in the crackdown.
Physicians for Human Rights says doctors and nurses have been detained, tortured, or disappeared because they have "evidence of atrocities committed by the authorities, security forces, and riot police" in the crackdown on anti-government protesters.

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