Feb. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Bahrain’s chief of public security warned Bahrainis against responding to calls for protests, saying that civil disorder and chaos won’t be tolerated.
The warning comes amid increasing protests by the mostly Shiite opposition ahead of the Feb. 14 anniversary of massive anti-regime rallies demanding more democratic representation and increased economic opportunities. Opposition groups have been urging followers in messages posted on Twitter and Facebook to head to the Pearl Roundabout, the center of the 2011 rallies. The roundabout has been off-limits to demonstrators since it was demolished by the government last year.
“Incitement through social media channels” creates disorder, Major-General Tariq al-Hassan said, according to a statement posted on the Interior Ministry’s website. “Any disturbance that arises will be treated according to the law especially if the safety of the nation or peoples’ lives are at stake,” he added.
Thirty-five people died last year in the government crackdown against protests. The opposition says many more have died from tear gas inhalation and torture, allegations the government denies. Authorities yesterday closed roads leading from Shiite villages to the roundabout and also clashed with demonstrators in several villages.
The ruling al-Khalifa family invited troops from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council countries last year to help restore order. It accused Shiite-ruled Iran of encouraging the unrest, a claim Tehran has denied. Shiites represent about two-thirds of the nation’s population, according to the U.S. State Department.
--Editors: Louis Meixler, Karl Maier.
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