we weren’t even protesting, riot police just shot at us [with] sound grenades, pushed me and shot Zainab Al Khawaja.”
Almuhafda and El Khawaja were documenting the protests for potential police abuses when officers fired sound grenades and injured them. “Fifteen minutes after the protest was over, we were cornered and fired at directly. Zainab was injured and I took her to the hospital.” Almuhafda has filed a complaint against the Bahrain riot police today. He says similar reports have been made but were never investigated.
Almuhafda said there were between 120 and 150 protesters at the rally, held under the title “Right to peacefully protest” named as such, “because police do not allow us to take part in marches” he said. He added the police fired “without giving a warning.”
just spoke to zainab, riot police surrounded her and @saidyousif mocking them and one of them gave an order to another to shoot her …
it was a clear order and they targeted her directly, all the police were wearing balaclavas @angryarabiya
Zeinab has a fractured femur and serious muscle damage.
This attack on Zeinab and Said Yousif is just one of the frequent attacks by Bahraini officials on any attempt to protest the monarchy’s refusal to grant even basic civil rights. Just a few days before, leaders of the moderate Al Wefaq political party faced similar attack:
A small group of 25 or 30 people, some carrying flowers and led by Al-Wefaq’s leader, Sheikh Ali Salman, attempted to march to the protest site after the Ministry of Interior denied their request for a permit. They were stopped by a more or less equal number of riot police. Four witnesses told Human Rights Watch that riot police shot “flash-bang” grenades and teargas directly at the protesters without provocation. A video examined by Human Rights Watch appears to show police at first tossing flash-bang grenades into the crowd and then firing multiple rounds of the same type of device from riot control guns at extremely close range. The protesters behaved peacefully throughout and posed no threat of any kind to the officers or anyone else.
On Thursday, 28 countries – including Poland, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland , Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Mexico, Norway. France, and Germany – issued a joint statement the UN Human Rights Council saying:
With this in mind, we jointly express our concern over the human rights situation in Bahrain, both the violations that took place in February and March 2011 as well as the related ongoing ones. We are particularly concerned about the consequences faced by those who protested for democratic change in a peaceful manner. We call upon the Bahraini government to fully respect their rights of freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association and especially to ensure the protection of Human Rights Defenders.
Yet on the very same day, the United Kingdom’s Foreign Office was hosting the BahrainiMinister of Interior, Lt Gen Sheikh Rashid bin Abdullah al-Khalifa, who has been implicated in the torture and repression:
Briefing documents reveal that the Bahrain minister was in the country to learn about policing in Northern Ireland. The British government, which is a “long-standing ally” of Bahrain, is “keen to share lessons learnt from our experience in Northern Ireland”, the documents say.
And of course, not only has the Obama administration not joined the international outcry over the treatment of Bahrain’s pro-democracy activists, it’s shipping weapons to the monarchy that perpetrates these crimes.
Listen to Rula Al Saffar , the president of the Bahraini Nurses Association, who wrote to the Philadelphia Inquirer:
This week, I expect to hear if I will be going to prison for 15 years. The verdict on my appeal, as well as those of 19 other medics convicted in a sham Bahraini military trial last year, is due on Thursday. The Bahraini regime targeted us for treating protesters who were injured in democracy protests.
I lived and worked in the United States for many years, some spent studying at Widener University in Chester. It’s where I learned to volunteer, and last year, when demonstrations erupted in Bahrain, that’s what I did. Salmaniya Medical Complex, the country’s main public hospital, was overwhelmed by protesters hurt by regime forces, so I went to the emergency room to help treat them.
Several weeks later, on entering a government office, I was blindfolded and handcuffed. Over five months of detention, I was beaten, electrocuted, and sexually harassed. Then I was convicted. All just for doing my job.
Al Saffar’s charges were dismissed but nine of her medical colleagues had their convictions upheld. As she warns us:
I understand that America has strategic interests in the region. But Americans should consider the strategic impact of siding with a brutal dictatorship. The United States is losing an entire generation of people not just in Bahrain, but across the Middle East.