7th APRIL 2015 - Vol.XXXVIII No.018
Local News

Peace camps a hit in villages

YOUNG people from villages across Bahrain have been snapping up the chance to receive training in how to prevent violent clashes between police and demonstrators, say human rights activists.

Around 70 men and women have taken part in the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) scheme, which is said to be the first of its kind in the Middle East.

Activists have already held workshops in Bani Jamra, Sanabis and in Manama, showing young people how to diffuse potential conflicts and avoid clashes that injure policemen and demonstrators.

Further sessions will also take place in Demistan, Karzakan, Bilad Al Qadeem and Sitra in the coming weeks.

BYSHR president Mohammed Al Maskati said only one workshop, in Muharraq, had been cancelled because of a lack of interest.

"We are very happy with the numbers," he told the GDN.

"The young people are very interested in our project.

"Everyone is talking about the workshops and many bloggers mention it on their websites."

Following each workshop activists organise a football match in an attempt to reach more young people, putting up banners advertising their scheme and handing out leaflets.

Mr Al Maskati said the project was proving successful and believes the non-violent message is slowly being accepted.

"Non-violence is not new to Bahrain," he said.

"We are telling them if they do something without violence it is good for them and their families.

"We think we can help make 70 per cent of the demonstrations peaceful."

The BYSHR has organised the training based on an initiative from the Centre for Applied Non-Violent Action and Strategies in Serbia.

It advocates and promotes battles for democracy, but trains people worldwide in how to use peaceful strategies and tactics.

Activists hope more than 200 people, aged between 18 and 34, will initially benefit from the year-long scheme.

They eventually hope to reach 1,000.

Mr Al Maskati earlier revealed the scheme could lead to protesters giving flowers to riot police before a rally starts, copying a strategy used in Serbia to reduce tension.

He accepts it will be impossible to eradicate clashes between police and protesters, but believes the scheme is the first step towards finding a solution.

He said secret monitors will also infiltrate demonstrations to judge who is responsible for starting violent clashes and a report will be prepared for the society so officials can decide how to tackle the issue.

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