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Families of Bahraini prisoners hold a small protest during the Pope’s visit

Activists say the protesters were taken away from the protest site in a police vehicle and later released.

Relatives of those on death row and prisoners for life in Bahrain have staged a small protest along Pope Francis’ motorcade route to call for the release of political prisoners in the Persian Gulf state.

It was unclear if the pope saw the banners as his motorcade moved from his residence to a school in Isa Town, where he then addressed students and teachers. Some 30,000 flag-waving parishioners attended an outdoor Mass on Saturday.

A video of Saturday’s protest, which included several women and children, was posted online by the London-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) and by Bahrain’s disbanded al-Wefaq opposition group.

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Hajer Mansoor, the mother of imprisoned activist Sayed Nizar al-Wadaei, held up a sign that read: “Tolerance does not exist for us here in Bahrain.”

One of the banners read “Tolerance, Coexistence is a practice, not just a slogan. #Freedom for Hassan Mushaima #Freedom for political prisoners #End of sectarianism”.

Opposition leader Hassan Mushaima was sentenced to life in prison in 2011 for anti-government protests, led mainly by the Shia Muslim community. The Sunni monarchy cracked down on the riots.

In the video, a police officer can be heard telling the protesters, among whom was a small child: “Yes please, if you have demands, if you have anything, not this way and not this way.”

A government spokesman said uniformed police asked a group of nine people to disperse and “acceded to the request”, according to the Reuters news agency.

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“No further action is being taken in this regard,” the spokesman said in a statement, adding that “there have been no arrests or detentions related to the papal visit.”

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‘Protesters set free’

Earlier, BIRD said in a statement that the protesters were taken from the site in a police vehicle and later released.

Before the pope arrived in Bahrain on Thursday, families of those on death row asked him to speak out against capital punishment and defend political prisoners during the trip.

He did so in his first speech on Friday before government authorities and the diplomatic corps.

On Thursday, the first day of his four-day visit, the pontiff called for an end to discrimination and human rights violations.

It is vital that “fundamental human rights are not violated but promoted,” the pope said Thursday at the royal palace in Sakhir on his first visit to the Persian Gulf state, where Shi’ite Muslim opposition and human rights groups accuse the Sunni monarchy to oversee human rights. rights abuses, an accusation that the authorities deny.

Bahrain was the only Gulf state to experience massive upheaval in the Arab Spring. It has jailed thousands, some in mass trials, since the uprising.

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The kingdom has rejected criticism from the United Nations and others about the conduct of the trials and the conditions of detention, saying their prosecutions were carried out in accordance with international law.

Last year, Bahrain conditionally released dozens of prisoners under new rules that allow electronic monitoring and home detention instead. Mushaima’s son then said that his father had turned down an offer of parole.

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