Bahrainis take protests to US embassy


MANAMA – Pro-democracy activists protested at the US embassy in Bahrain on Monday, calling for Washington to press the authorities for democratic reform after weeks of demonstrations. Dozens of activists gathered at a fence set up in front of the embassy, chanting slogans in English against the Gulf state monarchy. Demonstrators also chanted in Arabic, saying “the people want to topple the regime!” The Gulf archipelago of some 1.2 million people is a strategic US ally and home to the United States Fifth Fleet.
It has been ruled by the Al-Khalifa royal family for 200 years. US embassy political officer Ludovic Hood brought a box of doughnuts for the demonstrators as they gathered down the street from the embassy ahead of the protest rally. “These sweets are a good gesture, but we hope it is translated into practical actions,” Mohammed Hassan, 35, who wore the white turban of a cleric, told Hood. “The message we want to give is that this regime has to end, and the United States has to prove that it is with human rights, and the right for all people to decide (their) destiny,” Hassan said to Hood. “We are born free, and we want to live free.”
Hood told the demonstrators who clustered around him that the United States had a “strategic relationship” with the government of Bahrain which included dialogue on human rights. “We’ve had a US navy presence here accepted by the great majority of people for many decades,” he said. “But part of our ongoing engagement with the government is discussions on human rights and universal rights.”