Bahrain: Protests on Election Eve

This post is part of our special coverage of Bahrain Protests 2011.

For weeks, many Bahraini Twitter users used the hashtag #LuluReturn to demand going back to Pearl Square, where their massive February protests took place. The Bahraini regime shocked the world in March by demolishing the pearl monument in the square, which is actually a roundabout, as if to erase the rebellious memory attached to it. This resulted a counter-reaction that sees many Bahrainis more attached to the monument as a symbol of their struggle against a regime that discriminates against its Shia majority.

On the eve of the election, conducted to fill 18 seats vacated by the opposition Al Wefaq Society when they resigned in protest against the killing of protesters, Bahrainis from different areas decided to walk to the square this Saturday only to be faced with riot police using rubber bullets and tear gas against them.

Netizens have reported some arrests and several protesters getting beaten, including some women. The village of Sanabis, which is close to the square, was the center of clashes between protesters and riot police.

Four days before the #LuluReturn, a social networking group called Bahrain Online (@ONLINEBAHRAIN) tweeted several pictures and signs from the streets that ask for the comeback of protests including this one:

@ONLINEBAHRAIN: ‘we will return’ balloons hung on traffic lights in Daih re 23/24 #luluReturn

A Bahraini girl (@Aljazita) wrote different actions she witnessed ahead of the protests:

@Aljazita: The riot police all over Bahrain villages armed and directing their weapon at ppl to warn them.

She also added a note in another tweet saying:

@Aljazita: Milk, Pepsi, Onion, oxygen& medical masks for tear/ toxic gases effect, Drs. Nurses, all medics be ready.

and another tweet on blocking Salmaniya hospital which was besieged by the military in February because it treated injured protesters:

@Aljazita: Riot police blocking all Salmaniya hospital to prevent treating the wounded, what kind of goverment is this?

Another girl (@Bent_6raif) cheered for the #LuluReturn saying:

@Bent_6raif: Tomorrow the world will know how courageous people of #Bahrain are, Tomorrow the world will see how peaceful our revolution is #LuluReturn

A devoted Twitter account for the jailed opposition figure Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja (@Freealkhawaja) tweeted a picture of riot police beating a protester:

@Freealkhawaja: Photo of protester after being beaten by RiotPolice in 1 of the villages close to pearlsquare- as received

Mohammed Al-Maskati (@MohdMaskati), President of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, wrote what he witnessed during the riot police attacks on protesters:

@MohdMaskati: Just saw a person being beaten brutally by riot police in Sanabis Village. Women attacked with stunt grenades + tear gas

Then he tweeted a picture of protesters:

@MohdMaskati: Photos of protesters close to the main street that overlooks Pearl Square

Human rights activist Maryam Alkhawaja (@MARYAMALKHAWAJA) kept updating her Twitter account with different details and news of the protests and she posted in this tweet a video of women getting attacked:

@MARYAMALKHAWAJA: Video of the women confronting riot police

Another Bahraini social networking group called Bahrain Revolution (@Bahrain_Rev) tweeted another video from the protests eve:

@Bahrain_Rev: 5th video of mercenaries attempt to raid a house in Sanabis 24sep

On the other side, there were pro-regime Twitter users who objected to the #LuluReturn protests including Nouf Al Sowaidi (@nalsowaidi) who commented saying:

@nalsowaidi: Radicals have gone 2 far 2day they're no longer defying the authorities they are terrorizing their fellow Bahrainis

Fawaz Ramadhan (@FM9779) has also used the term ‘terrorism’ when describing the protesters in his tweet:

@FM9779: The 1st terrorist act just reported in #LuluReturn event, whereas Hezbollah thugs entered a shopping mall in Bahrain terrorizing citizens.

M. K. Al-Binateej (@ATEEKSTER) has also devoted himself in the past week against #LuluReturn and in this tweet he posted a video:

@ATEEKSTER: Bahrainis cheering & kissing the riot police for removing rioters

At the end, protesters were prevented from reaching the square, restricting them to villages, which continued to be attacked by security forces until the early hours of this morning.

This post is part of our special coverage of Bahrain Protests 2011.

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