Monthly Archives: June 2012

Bahrain: one step forward, two steps back (video)

Zainab Al Khawaja remains “samood” after being targeted and hit by Bahraini security forces today (photo by #BCCLive correspondent)

There was good and bad news out of Bahrain today.

On the good news end of things, the human rights activist Nabeel Rajab was released from prison today after being detained on June 6 for comments he made on social media.  However, the bad news is he still faces charges on several counts associated with what Americans would consider expressions of free speech.

The government of Bahrain announced it would present compensation in the U.S. equivalent of $2.6 million dollars to the families of 17 victims killed by police, and charged three members of its police force with murder in connection with deaths during the crackdowns.  However, the bad news is that more than 50 people have been killed, and the violence against Bahrain residents continues.  The latest fatality is an 18-month old boy who lost his life after exposure to lethal quantities of tear gas that was fired around his home.

Human rights activist Zainab Al Khawaja, also known as @AngryArabiya on Twitter and the daughter of Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, was targeted and shot with a projectile by Bahraini police today and sustained an injury to her leg that required her hospitalization.

Slow-motion video proves Bahrain riot police shot to kill

Take action: use this form http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments to write to United States President Obama and ask him to issue a statement from the White House condemning this attack.

The horrifying and cowardly attack on peaceful protesters by Bahrain riot police on Friday, June 22 has made headlines all over the world, including the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and New York Times in the United States.

Now, Al-Wefaq has released a slow-motion version of the YouTube video showing the incident that clarifies many points to the observer:

1.  The protest was clearly peaceful in intent and execution.

2. The physical attack by riot police was unprovoked by any action whatsoever on the part of the protesters.

3. The riot police aimed weapons and threw projectiles at the level of the protesters heads, ostensibly with the intention to maim or kill.

4. The riot police shot and threw projectiles at extremely close range to people, which is against the intended crowd-control use of these items, as they can maim and kill when used in this way.

5. The riot police continued to fire and lob volleys of grenades in spite of the fact that the crowd immediately dispersed, even while it was evident injuries were occurring.

6. They did not stop their attack until it was evident to them a person had fallen and was critically injured.

7. Rubber bullets and projectiles hit people in the back, as they were fleeing the attack.

The Bahrain Coordinating Committee calls on the United States and the United Nations to condemn this brutal and senseless attack.

The story of Sitra’s martyrs

We visited a grave yard in Sitra where martyr Ali Alshaikh is buried next to other martyrs.

Zainab Alkhawaja told us their stories, what happened and how they died.

Ali Alshaikh’s house was filled with his pictures, his mother remembers how active he was and kind to others. It was the third day of Eid in 2011 and he was only 14 when he got shot during a protest close to his Sitra home. He told his family he can’t celebrate Eid while there are political prisoners in Bahrain.

An apparent case of police brutality in Bahrain – can you provide the details?

A friend on Twitter provided this video to me, however, I cannot locate the original version on YouTube, and I wanted to share it with you.

It appears to show a traffic stop in a Bahraini neighborhood where people are harassed and threatened by riot police.

Do you know what happened here?  When was this, and where?  What is the story?  Can you solve this mystery?

If you know the original YouTube video, please share the link in the comments!

Update on Ali Mohammed Almuwali, shot by security forces in Bahrain protest

We transmit the sad news that Bahraini citizen Ali Mohammed Almuwali remains hospitalized and in critical condition with a fractured skull after being shot at close range by Bahrain security forces while attending a peaceful demonstration on Friday, June 22, 2012.

Almuwali, who is 27 years old and a father, has undergone two surgeries and sustained brain damage.  His hospital room is under tight security, and even his family were initially prohibited from seeing him.

Video below portrays the unprovoked attack.  Bahrain has rationalized the actions of their security forces, saying it was necessary to prevent “traffic congestion.”

The youngest victims of tear gas in Bahrain – the babies and the unborn

Photo credit: Hasan Jamali, Associated Press. Bahraini anti-government protesters demonstrate Thursday, June 21, in Diraz, Bahrain. Riot police used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the demonstrations against alleged deaths of infants and miscarriages blamed on excessive tear gas. Arabic on the sign reads: “For what crime have they been killed?”

Excessive exposure to tear gas has been demonstrated to cause miscarriage in pregnancy, and infants are particularly susceptible to the side effects of tear gas, which can be fatal in instances.  Unfortunately, in Bahrain, many families have lost their young and unborn babies through exposure to tear gas.

On Thursday, June 21, a demonstration was held in Bahrain to bring attention to this tragic development.  However, the demonstration was not met with sympathy.  The protesters were fired on with tear gas and stun grenades.  During the clash, even two press photographers, one from Associated Press, were temporarily detained by riot police.

For the past two years, tear gas has been used against Bahrainis in a number of ways — much of it indiscriminate and excessive.  It has been used against protesters, fired into neighborhoods, and even propelled directly into homes.  The BICI report stated that Bahrain’s police used a disproportionate amount of CS gas when dispersing protests, and that in a number of situations, police fired CS gas into private homes in an “unnecessary and indiscriminate” manner.

Physicians for Human Rights has also chronicled the use — or should we say, the misuse, of tear gas — and resulting fatalities.  Many deaths have resulted from inhalation, or through injuries sustained by being struck by the projectiles.

Although the Kingdom has pledged to pursue the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission, very little in the way of true reform has taken place, and the use of excessive tear gas continues unabated.

We’ve been provided with a list of names of infants and unborn children by ea_as on Twitter, and list them here.

We mourn their passing, and we send wishes of sympathy to their families.

Fadak Mushaima from Al Dihe

Hawra Mohamed from Sanabis

Fatima Al Samie from jidhafs

Ali Badah (he was named like his martyr brother Ali Badah, from Sitra)

Hussein Sabeel from Sitra

Sajida Jawad from Al blad Al qadeem

Yahya Youssef from RAS Rumman

Fatima Abbas from Adarei

Batool Mohammed from Sanad

Hadil Mohamed from Sarr

Yasser Mehdi from Karrana

Reda Hani from Almaamer

Sayed Hussein Sayed Ahmed from Sanabis

If you have updates or corrections to this list, please let us know.

The Bahrain Coordinating Committee deplores the use of tear gas by government forces against the residents of Bahrain, and joins international human rights organizations in calling for its immediate cessation.

March for Freedom in Bahrain today — slideshow #BCCLive

Hundreds of people joined a “March for Freedom” in A’ali, Bahrain.  Riot police attempted to block the roads, but the demonstration continued.  Participants included Said Yousif and Zainab Al Khawaja, as well as our own #BCCLive witnesses, who took these photographs and videos today.

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Meanwhile, we wait to hear word of the conditions of Ali Al-Mowali, who was seriously injured while peacefully protesting yesterday, after being shot in the head, and who is, we understand, undergoing his second surgical operation, and of Syed Hadi, who was arrested on the scene yesterday and was reportedly taken to the Dry Dock Detention Center.

Around Bahrain

There were many attempts to sit and write the first blog, but the overwhelming feeling always wins. Not knowing where to start and how to tell all the stories you hear on a daily basis — there are so many.

More than one year later, Bahrain is still struggling, the people are still fighting, they didn’t give up. The world gave up on them. Realizing that what we get in America and other parts of the world are only headlines and bullet points, famous names, and some pictures here and there. In reality, the headline we get once every two weeks, is the story of people’s lives every day here.

The crackdown took different approaches here; it’s not only limited to tear gas, bird gun shots, and arrests. The crackdown became a lifestyle. Even worse, a lifestyle people are getting used to.

Nothing looks different on the surface, everything looks normal on main roads and highways, with pictures of the King, Prime Minister, and Crown Prince hung up everywhere. In villages, however, things are anything but calm.

One of the first experiences we came across, was getting stuck in traffic. All we could see was smoke, as we got closer, we realized that protesters blocked the street with tires and lit them on fire. Minutes later, about 5 police cars were parked, and riot police rushed into village alleyways firing sound bombs and tear gas. It was strange to see everyone calm and just waiting, no honking, no wondering. Everyone is used to it, I was told, “This is normal, this happens everyday in different areas.”

People here are always excited to tell their stories, and recite incidents. Everyone is always talking and discussing the situation, not just in Bahrain but even in Egypt, Syria and around the region.

The sense we got is that youth and activists are organized, and task oriented. It’s a collective effort to plan, document and produce to get their voices and news out there.

Costa Coffee carried the spirit of the Pearl Roundabout, there is that sense of freedom, and determination to keep going. It’s the focal point for activists and journalists, and also secret services!!

The stories we hear every day are shocking and heartbreaking. There is the latest story of Mohamed Al Buflasa, a Sunni activist who was arrested before. Apparently, his relatives didn’t like his activism, so the story as we heard it from people goes like this:

His wife’s sisters brainwashed his teenage daughter and tricked her into filing a case against her dad, accusing him of sexually harassing her, which she did. So Al Buflasa was taken to prison. His sister, and some say his wife, too, stood up for him and denied the accusations. So, police take the girl, as well, for a hoax — without questioning the aunts who pushed her to act.

There are the stories of the kids, one who got shot in his left eye and lost it while he stood by his dad to sell fish — Ahmed Nasser Alnaham. Another 11 year old kid, Ali Hasan, who went to court for being accused of taking money from people to block roads, according to the Ministry of Interior.

So many stories of families who lost a father, a brother, or a son.  Families who lost their jobs and are on a daily hunt for food. Kids dropping out of school to work and bring food to the table.

A woman told me that a man in his late 40s offered to wash her car for her. She said that she doesn’t need it watched, but then looked at his face, and couldn’t bare to leave him like that. She told him you can just wipe the windows and I’ll pay you. She says, he ran to my car, to clean it just to get money. She was explaining to me how much it hurts to see the Bahraini elderly unemployed and helpless, trying to bring food to the table in any way possible.

We will follow stories of families and try to go to their homes, and shed light on their struggle. Follow our Twitter @connect_bahrain for live updates and news.

Bahrain regime attacks peaceful protesters — photos tell the story

There are times when you just have to let the pictures tell the story.  But there are some details —

  • Ali al Mwale was standing behind Sheikh Ali Salman during a protest.  They were standing, calmly, facing the police, holding roses.  The police took aim, apparently in a completely unprovoked assassination attempt, and Ali al Mwale stepped in front of the Sheik to save him.  He is now in critical condition with a brain injury.
  • Syid Hadi, as of this writing, has been taken by police and his whereabouts are unknown to his family.
  • Said Yousif was beaten by police.

Many others were injured, as the photos depict.  And this is just ONE day in Bahrain.

Photos provided the International Affairs Department at Al Wefaq; many details of this article provided by @ea_as on Twitter.

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Slideshow of images from ADC Convention

Here are some images from the exhibit display organized by Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain and Bahrain Coordinating Committee. The ADC Convention is taking place today through the weekend in Washington, DC.

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