Thousands Protest Proposed Reforms in Bahrain

Posted July 29th, 2011 at 5:55 pm (UTC-5)
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Thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets outside Bahrain's capital to call for greater reforms.

The protests Friday came as government and opposition groups considered reforms proposed by a committee set up by the kingdom's Sunni rulers. The national dialogue committee was set up to investigate the kingdom's suppression of anti-government protests that left more than 30 people dead.

However, its mandate was undercut when the country's largest Shi'ite party, Al Wefaq, walked out of the talks, arguing that the government wasn't committed to real change and dialogue.

King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa Thursday accepted the panel's recommendations which include giving more power to the lower house of parliament and making human rights improvements.

The committee also voiced support for an independent judiciary.

Bahrain launched the talks earlier this month after bringing in military units from neighboring Gulf states to assist in a crackdown on dissent led by the Shi'ite majority.

Some protesters urged the Sunni rulers to give the country's Shi'ites a greater role in the government, while others called for the ouster of the Sunni dynasty.

Bahrain has been criticized by human rights groups for its handling of hundreds of protesters that include detentions and trials.

Bahrain's Sunni rulers imposed martial law and crushed weeks of pro-democracy protests led mostly by majority Shi'ites in March. The state of emergency was lifted June 1.

At least 32 people were killed during the crackdown, hundreds were arrested – mostly Shi'ites – and 2,000 were dismissed or suspended from their jobs.