Bahrain killing continues


This video is called Lethal Use of Tear Gas in Bahrain from Amber Lyon of CNN.

Hundreds sentenced in Bahrain’s military courts as UN criticizes deadly use of tear gas: here.

Bahrain: UN calls for probe into alleged excessive use of force against protesters: here.

Naser Al Raas, a Canadian citizen, suffered mock executions in Bahrain: here.

Bahrain to go ahead with medics trial. Justice minister says the prosecution of 20 medics who treated wounded protesters last year would go ahead: here.

Bahrain Watch responds to Tuesday’s presentation by King Hamad and the head of the National Commission proclaiming “significant and broad” reforms: here.

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24 thoughts on “Bahrain killing continues

  1. Bahrain mosque damage shows plight to ease unrest

    By REEM KHALIFA and BRIAN MURPHY

    Associated Press

    In this photo taken Monday, March 19, 2012, damage is seen to the Sasa’a bin Sawhan mosque in Askar, Bahrain, south of the capital of Manama. Even as the beleaguered Sunni monarchy claims progress toward reconciliation, the battered facade of the Sasa’a bin Sawhan mosque underscores the deep anger and suspicions that still feed the Arab Spring’s longest-running street battles _ which show no signs of easing.
    Hasan Jamali

    MANAMA, Bahrain — At some point before dawn, the vandals struck with brutal efficiency, smashing the windows at one of Bahrain’s oldest Shiite mosques. Then the attackers walked over the broken shards to ransack offices and prayer areas – making sure to pull down some framed parchments with Quranic verses.

    The attack last week, described by scholars and custodians of the centuries-old site, was quickly overshadowed by another wave of clashes in Bahrain’s 13-month-old uprising by the kingdom’s Shiite majority.

    But even as the beleaguered Sunni monarchy claims progress toward reconciliation, the battered facade of the Sasa’a bin Sawhan mosque underscored the deep anger and suspicions that still feed the Arab Spring’s longest-running street battles – which show no signs of ending.

    “I am horrified,” said Bahrain-based historian Jassim al-Abass following the March 13 attack on the site, which has connections to the earliest periods of Islam in the 7th century. “Instead of protecting mosques, officials are letting this happen.”

    Bahrain’s Shiite mosques have been one of the most sensitive targets in the government’s crackdown on dissent and later attempts to make amends. Shiite clerics claim at least 38 mosques and affiliated sites, such as charity offices, were destroyed after the revolt began in February 2011. Bahrain’s Shiites – who account for about 70 percent of the population but allege they face widespread discrimination – rose up to demand a greater political voice. Some activists place the number of destroyed mosques at 55 or higher.

    On Tuesday, a report given to Bahrain’s king, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, reaffirmed plans to rebuild 12 Shiite mosques demolished last year by authorities. It’s unclear, however, what progress has been made on the sites.

    In a speech on the progress of political reforms in response to the ongoing unrest, the king said the rebuilding of the mosques should proceed.

    “Given that the state is entrusted to build the places of worship and care for them, we instruct that work continues in accordance with laws and regulations,” the king said.

    Bahraini officials did not immediately respond to questions about the mosque projects or the claims about the vandalism against the Sasa’a bin Sawhan mosque. In November, an independent investigation into Bahrain’s unrest cited the destruction of Shiite mosques as giving “the impression of collective punishment.”

    Bahrain’s government has said the razed Shiite mosques lacked permits and were illegally built. Shiite activists say the bulldozers were brought as retribution for the rebellion.

    Mosques had no special role in the Shiite uprising, but Friday prayer sermons often denounced the government crackdowns.

    The opposing narratives highlight the perception gaps that have so far blocked dialogue between the Sunni dynasty and main Shiite factions.

    Authorities insist they have made important concessions and reforms, including giving more powers to the elected parliament, addressing abuses within security forces and restoring state jobs for Shiites purged from their posts. But many Shiite groups have set their demands much higher: Calling on the rulers to give up their monopoly on power and open top decision-making positions to Shiites.

    Bahrain’s stalemate – which has claimed at least 45 lives – also has left Washington caught in the middle.

    The U.S. has pressed Bahrain’s leaders to ease their use of force against protesters, but is wary about applying too much pressure and jeopardizing one of its most important military alliances in the Gulf at a time of escalating tensions with Iran. Bahrain hosts the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, which would have a front-line role in confronting any Iranian attempts to disrupt oil shipping in the Gulf.

    Last year, U.S. President Barack Obama publicly reprimanded Bahrain’s rulers for their heavy-handed tactics and said Shiites “must never have their mosques destroyed.”

    Shiite leaders did not accuse state forces of involvement in the latest damage inflicted on the Sasa’a bin Sawhan mosque, but suggested that routine security was lacking at a site with such significance.

    The mosque – on a site with connections to worship during Islam’s first century – is now in a predominantly Sunni area in Askar, about 12 miles (20 kilometers) south of the capital Manama, that includes many Sunni Arabs and South Asians given Bahraini citizenship under government plans to boost Sunni numbers.

    The mosque was closed shortly after the first mass protests last year and was struck by vandals, who left anti-Shiite graffiti and broken windows. The latest attack cause far more extensive damage, said Ahmed al-Ghurafi, a member of the Islamic Scholars Council, which has a caretaker role for many important Muslim sites in Bahrain.

    “This matter has crossed all limits,” he said. “There is no respect for religious or civil rights.”

    In December, Shiite clerics began defying government orders and started holding prayers on the rubble of bulldozed mosques.

    “This is our strategy to ensure that all the mosques must be rebuilt,” said al-Ghurafi, “and to say that those who destroyed them must be held accountable.”

    Murphy reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

    Posted on Wed, Mar. 21, 2012 01:54 AM

  2. Mar 22, 2012 – 14:15

    Bahrain police install cameras to curb abuse

    By Andrew Hammond

    MANAMA (Reuters) – Bahrain is installing video cameras in police stations to try to clean up its human rights image after crushing a pro-democracy uprising last year, but activists say off-camera abuse continues in other locations.

    At al-Hoora station in Manama, closed circuit television will record police interrogations in rooms with padded grey walls. Rooms without cameras are set aside for detainees to consult lawyers. Other areas of the station are also monitored.

    “We chose the colour grey because it’s an international standard and it calms people. Anyone in a state of violence has to be calmed down,” said Brigadier Mansour Alhajeri, a police officer conducting a tour for journalists.

    He said seven other stations were now being fitted with the monitoring system and all 33 stations would be covered by October.

    But the cameras, introduced after an inquiry led by international jurists uncovered five deaths under torture last year, will not be installed in at least five riot police bases where activists say youths have been beaten.

    “They don’t detain anyone, any arrests will be handed over to police,” police chief Tareq al-Hassan said when about the absence of cameras in the bases from where riot police using jeeps and armoured vehicles move to handle protests.

    The United States, which sees Bahrain as an ally in its conflict with Iran, has held up arms sales, including anti-tank missiles and armoured humvees, until the Gulf island state shows progress in implementing human rights reforms.

    Bahrain has been in turmoil for over a year as opposition parties dominated by the Shi’ite majority population demand an end to the Al Khalifa family’s hold on power and Shi’ite youths clash daily with Sunni-dominated riot police, many of them foreign hires.

    Banking, tourism and real estate have slowed as the unrest scares off investors and strains the economy, while the clashes have intensified in the past three months.

    Police say they show restraint in the face of rioters who attack them with petrol bombs and iron bars, damaging vehicles and wounding personnel.

    But opposition and rights activists say 32 civilians have died since June, many from the effects of tear gas or direct hits by tear gas canisters and sound bombs.

    The government questions the causes of death and their attribution to the political conflict.

    The U.N. High Commission on Human Rights said this week it was concerned about a disproportionate use of force and excessive use of tear gas and would investigate the death toll.

    OFF-CAMERA BEATINGS?

    Bahraini rights activists list three informal detention centres where Shi’ite youths are beaten up by riot police before release, while others are beaten in the street.

    “More than 160 people have been beaten in these places,” said Mohammed al-Maskati, head of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, naming one site as a youth hostel in Sanabis which police acknowledge has been transformed into a riot police base.

    Maskati said abuse had moved out of the range of cameras.

    “In the past four months I never heard of anyone abused in a police station. They are hit before they reach there, that is the technique they use now,” he said, citing 10 teenagers mistreated in an unused building in Dar al-Kulaib this week.

    A 16-year-old was abducted on Wednesday in Sanabis and found unconscious several hours later with his hands tied, underpants removed and trousers pulled down. His family filed a complaint to public prosecutors, blaming plainclothes detectives.

    The interior ministry said it was investigating the incident.

    John Timoney, a former Miami police chief hired to advise on the reforms, acknowledged that monitoring of detainees before they arrive in police stations was a relevant concern.

    “If an arrest is effected, they should be taken to the nearest police station in that area. I take your point – police officers are directed to take them to the nearest police station,” he said when questioned at a news conference.

    He added: “If anybody has any information on secret locations of that nature, we want to hear it.”

    (Reporting by Andrew Hammond; Editing by Alistair Lyon)

    Reuters

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