Bahrain’s Sunni rulers have conducted a massive crackdown on the country’s Shiite majority after protests began in February for greater rights. A trial of 21 activists accused of plotting against the state is scheduled to resume on Thursday.

The head of Bahrain’s military says a Saudi—led force brought in to deal with anti—government protests will remain in the country even after emergency rule is lifted next month.

The commander, Sheik Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, is also warning of harsh retaliation if protesters return to the streets.

Bahrain’s Sunni rulers have conducted a massive crackdown on the country’s Shiite majority after protests began in February for greater rights. A trial of 21 activists accused of plotting against the state is scheduled to resume on Thursday.

Bahrain says it will lift emergency rule on June 1. But the commander’s comments late Wednesday suggest that a heavy security presence will remain along with the additional 1,500 Saudi—led troops from Gulf Arab countries.

More In: International | News