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Bahrain arrests 5 children in besieged village of Diraz

Bahraini forces have arrested five children during raids across the besieged village of Diraz, which is home to the spiritual leader of the country’s Shia majority, Sheikh Isa Qassim.

Troops raided the village outside the capital Manama in the early hours of Monday, arresting Hussein Muhammad Saleh, Sayed Ali al-Sayed Taha Fadl, Sayed Mortada Sayed Sadiq, Montazer Ali Mirza al-Rayes and Sayed Ahmed Sayed Musa, the Arabic-language Bahrain Mirror news website reported.

The arrests come despite the Bahraini authorities’ promises to release children detained as part of the regime crackdown on the opposition.

Local sources have said most of the recently arrested children are under 15. They added that the Al Khalifah regime unjustifiably detained the children to exert pressure on their parents.

Diraz is the hometown of leading Shia cleric, Sheikh Isa Qassim, who was stripped of his nationality in 2016 over allegations of serving “foreign interests” and promoting “sectarianism and violence.”

The move sparked angry protests and sit-ins in Diraz. Bahraini regime forces launched a fierce crackdown on those gatherings, placed the Shia leader under house arrest and imposed a military siege on the village.

Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifah wrote on Twitter on July 6 that King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah had allowed Sheikh Isa Qassim to travel to the United Kingdom for medical care.

Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the kingdom in mid-February 2011.

They are demanding that the Al Khalifah dynasty relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.

Manama has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist the tiny island in its crackdown on dissent.

Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries as a result of the Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown on dissent.

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