Protesters attempted to gather and march in the capital of Bahrain, Manama, on the one-year anniversary of the start of the anti-government protests.
Police shot tear gas and fired birdshot from shotguns to scatter protesters who were trying to occupy central Manama, according to photos and videos uploaded to Twitter and Facebook.
Activists told Al-Jazeera on Tuesday that protesters were trying to get to the Pearl roundabout where protesters demonstrated last year. “Down with [King] Hamad!” many protesters chanted.
Some youths threw stones and other objects at security forces, according to media photos and videos of the incident. A BBC reporter said that the center of Manama was quiet on Tuesday, despite the call for action and the heavy police buildup.
On Monday, several thousand demonstrators clashed with police in one of the largest demonstrations in months designed to mark one year since their stalled Arab Spring protests began.
Abdulaziz bin Mubarak Al Khalifa, an official with Bahrain’s information ministry, told Al-Jazeera, “It’s very unfortunate that a very radical element of one of the opposition sects has decided once again to take to the streets calling for reforms.”
Khalifa said there have been “pockets of violence” and said the protesters need to “focus their energy in [a] more positive way.”
Adding further, he said, “Let’s not forget there have been many opportunities for dialogue, starting with [his] royal highness [the] crown prince asking for dialogue a year ago.”
The ruling clan in Bahrian are Sunni Muslims while the majority of those in the small island nation are Shi’ites who have long complained of second-class treatment.
Amnesty International said on Monday Bahrain’s government has not done nearly enough to change its human rights situation ahead of a self-imposed deadline. The ruling monarchy put together an independent commission to investigate claims during last year’s demonstrations and said in November there were widespread human rights abuses throughout the country.
“The government has made a number of announcements of what it has done to improve the human rights situation, but the fact is that it has still not delivered in the most important areas,” stated Amnesty’s regional deputy director, Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.
Another rights group, Freedom House, said groups inside the country have reported “ongoing arrests, intimidation, and in some cases torture of those speaking out against despotic rule.”
In a recent report, Bahrain was ranked by Reporters Without Borders as 173rd out of 179 in terms of total press freedom. Bahrain’s official news agency did not cover Monday and Tuesday’s protests.