Along the path of Pope Francis’ convoy, family members of death row and life convicts in Bahrain staged a modest demonstration. The protesters demanded the release of political prisoners jailed in the Arab kingdom.
It is unclear if the pope was aware of the posters as his motorcade traveled from residence in Manama to an Isa Town school. Pope spoke to children and teachers there. Earlier this week, over 30,000 devotees, flags in their hands, joined an outdoor liturgy.
The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), based in British capital, as well as Bahrain’s disbanded opposition al-Wefaq group, both released a video of popular demonstration, which featured a number of women and children.
“Tolerance does not exist for us here in Bahrain,” a sign carried by the mother of imprisoned activist Sayed Nizar al-Wadaei, Hajer Mansoor read.
“Tolerance, Coexistence is a practice, not just a slogan,” said a placard held by protesters that continued ” #Free Hassan Mushaima #Free Political Prisoners #End Sectarianism”.
A dissident figure named Hassan Mushaima received a life sentence11 years ago for organizing largely Shia Muslim anti-government demonstrations. The uprising, during the renowned Arab spring, was put down by the Sunni rulers.
During the early years of 2010s, the Arab Spring devoured a big part of the Arab nations living under dictatorships. The Uprising kicked off in North African countries like Tunisia and, having a contagious nature, was transmitted to other Arab nations like Egypt, Syria, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and loads of others.
The marchers, who included a little kid, could be caught being told by a policeman in the film, “If you please, if you have requests, if you have anything, not in this method and not in this approach.”
A Pope Conservatism
According to a state spokeswoman quoted by Reuters, a group of nine people were requested to evacuate by armed officers and “accommodated the request.” The spokesperson also added that “no further action is being taken in this regard. There have been no arrests or apprehensions related to the Papal visit.”
BIRD announced in a declaration that the demonstrators were driven away from the place in a police van and later freed. Relatives of death row convicts urged the Christian leader to stand against the death penalty and support political inmates while in Bahrain before his arrival on Thursday.
Pope made a vague conservative remark over the issue in his opening speech to the diplomatic community and government officials on Friday. On the opening day of his four-day tour on Thursday, the pope demanded the termination of discrimination and abuses of human rights.
The pope stressed a day earlier at the royal palace during his first trip to Bahrain that it is crucial “fundamental human rights are not violated but promoted.” The Shiite Muslim critics and rights organizations accuse the Sunni monarchy of monitoring human rights abuses, which the officials refute.
The only Arab nation in Persian Gulf region to experience widespread Arab Spring unrest was Bahrain. Since the insurrection, it has jailed thousands, some in large-scale trials.
The monarchy has dismissed criticism from the United Nations and others over the way trials are conducted and the circumstances of imprisonment. Manama claimed that its prosecutions are in line with global regulations.
Tens of inmates were conditionally freed in Bahrain in 2021 under new laws that permitted electronic monitoring and house detention in their place. A large group of prisoners rejected the conditional freedom describing it as a method to wash off the massive crackdown.