Tue, Aug 30, 2011 - Page 6 News List

Bahrain king pardons protesters

RECONCILIATION:The king said he had given orders to solve the issue of thousands of Shiites who lost their jobs as punishment for supporting pro-democracy protests

AFP, DUBAI

King Hamad of Bahrain said on Sunday he was pardoning all those who insulted him during a month of Shiite-led pro-democracy protests, in a bid to bring normality back to the Persian Gulf kingdom.

He also said that civilians that were being tried in military courts for their participation in the protest, which was crushed in the middle of March, will eventually be handled by civil courts, while those who were dismissed from their jobs will be reinstated.

“There are those who are charged with abusing us and senior officials in Bahrain, we today announce that we forgive them,” he said in an address to the nation to mark the approaching end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

“Although I do not like to interfere in the course of justice, I would like to confirm that all the cases of civilians will have their verdicts issued by a civil court,” he said.

King Hamad said that he had given orders to solve the problem of employees and students who were dismissed.

“When we see workers at their work places and students at their learning institutions, while some other workers are not working and other students are not studying, we are prompted to look into their situation in order to help them join their colleagues and classmates,” he said.

“These are our orders to the concerned institutions and they should implement them more quickly,” he added.

Thousands of Shiite employees lost their jobs in punishment for supporting protests, while students were dismissed from schools and universities and others were stripped of scholarships to study abroad.

King Hamad told those who had been mistreated in custody in the aftermath of the crackdown to file a complaint saying that the law allows compensation for them.

“The recent period was painful to all of us. Although we live in one country, some have forgotten the inevitability of coexistence. Therefore, we should not abandon our belief in having the same and common future, and should not lose trust in each other as brothers, colleagues and citizens,” he said.

The Shiite majority of the -Persian Gulf kingdom that is ruled by the Sunni al-Khalifa dynasty led demonstrations demanding democratic reforms inspired by protests that swept the strong presidents of Tunisia and Egypt out of power, starting what became known as the Arab Spring.

Bahraini security forces, boosted by Saudi Arabia-led troops from elsewhere in the Persian Gulf, crushed the protest after allowing demonstrators to camp in central Manama for about one month. Authorities say 24 people, including four policemen were killed in the unrest, while four others died in custody.

Bahrain’s crackdown on protests earned the staunch US ally criticism from human rights organizations, but the international community did not show the support for the protests as it did in other countries as the West feared Iran had a role in instigating its co-religionists in the small kingdom.

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