Bahrain’s king has ordered a state of emergency to be lifted from June 1, the state news agency said on Sunday.
“The state of national safety is lifted across the kingdom of Bahrain from June 1, 2011,” state news agency BNA quoted the king’s decree as saying. It had been due to expire in mid-June.
Bahrain declared emergency law in March before forcibly quelling the protests calling for greater political freedoms, a constitutional monarchy and an end to sectarian discrimination.
The main Shia opposition group Wefaq welcomed the king’s move to lift emergency law as “very good news” and said it was the first sign authorities were relaxing their grip.
“The security forces can still do their normal business but we don’t have to have the army in the streets,” said Jasim Husain, a Wefaq politician. “I expect more gestures from the king in coming weeks. We have to get our house in order and move on as a nation.”
At least 29 people, all but six of them Shias, have been killed since the protests started in February.
Bahrain put 21 opposition activists on trial in special courts on Sunday, charged with trying to topple the government.
They included Shia dissident Hassan Mushaimaa, leader of the opposition group Haq who has called for the overthrow of the Sunni al-Khalifa monarchy, and Ebrahim Shareef, the Sunni leader of the secular Waad group that has called for a constitutional monarchy but has not joined those seeking to oust the king.
The defendants, who also include a human rights activist who is a Danish citizen, were put on trial in a hybrid civilian-military court where military prosecutors try the case before a panel of one military and two civilian judges. Agencies