Bahrain: Violent Attacks on the Protests on the Sixth Anniversary of Bahrain’s Peaceful Uprising
*******Warning -graphic material
Bahraini security forces have continued to respond to ongoing and increasing protests with excessive force, leading to serious injuries. Such attacks and injuries have been observed prior to, and on the sixth anniversary of the 2011 Bahraini popular uprising on 14 February, as Bahraini people took the street demanding freedom and democracy. Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its concern that the ongoing practices exhibited by the Bahraini authorities in exerting excessive force threatens the life of protestors and distant Bahrain from resolving its serious human rights issues.
On 14 February 2017, BCHR was able to record 94 protests in 55 villages, out of which 48 were attacked using tear gas and shotgun pellets. Tear gas was deployed in excessive amounts, in areas that were crowded with civilians and over residential spaces. From the photos analysed by BCHR, it appears that many of the injuries caused by shotgun pellets were on the top parts of the body, including the face.
Shotgun pellet injuries have caused the death of many protesters in previous years, including the first victim of extrajudicial killing, Ali Mushaima, who was shot in the back with pellets on 14 February 2011. The killer of Mushaima is reportedly free, while Muhaima’s mother is sentenced to 1 year in prison for allegedly “insulting the king.”
BCHR has observed that an increasing number of injuries to protestors have been caused by shotgun pellets since the beginning of the year. The increased frequency of protests following the execution of three torture victims in mid January has meant that the number of injured protesters is only increasing. Further protests erupted following the MOI announcement on 9 February 2017 of the killing of another three men while trying to flee Bahrain. The authorities did not release the men’s bodies until four days after announcing their death, only two members of each family have been allowed to attend the burial of the men, and the families were forced to reduce usual funeral rites. People responded to these actions by the Bahraini authorities by protesting, and have since been subjected to excessive force.
In the past week shotgun injuries were reported in different areas, including Bani Jamra, the home of the men who were killed. Injuries were varied but included shots in the back, and the head (Photo). Property, such as cars and houses have been damaged.
Even a religious procession was attacked with tear gas in Duraz on 11 Feb 2017:
Alongside attacks on protesters, Bahraini authorities have escalated their arrest campaign. The past week has witnessed the largest number of arrests since the beginning of the year: 48 individuals were arrested between 6 February and 12 February 2017, including 3 children and 5 women. Only 1 of the individuals was later released. 21 more individuals were arrested between 12-14 February 2017, including 1 woman and 2 children. In some cases, multiple family members were arrested together, Sheikh Mohamed Saleh AlQashami, was arrested from his house on 9 February 2017 along with his son and daughter.
Based on the above, BCHR calls on the government in Bahrain
- to respect citizens rights to rights to free expression, opinion and assembly, as protected by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Bahrain acceded to in 2006 and
- to stop jeopardizing protesters’ right to life by subjecting them to tear gas and shotgun pellets.