16 March 2011

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights deeply regrets the reports of several separate attacks on Asian workers in various parts of the capital, Manama on Sunday (March 13). The BCHR condemns, unequivocally, the violent targeting or harassment of any segment of Bahraini society. BCHR calls on the Bahraini authorities to immediately cease their policy of recruiting foreign mercenaries, many of whose citizenship is reportedly fast-tracked, and using them to oppress the local population. Seven Bahrainis have already been killed since the beginning of the current uprising, all as a result of the use of gunshot, bird pellets and rubber bullets by riot police.

According to the Gulf Daily News (http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/NewsDetails.aspx?storyid=301780), an Asian man has been killed and another suffered critical injuries on Sunday March 13, after they were allegedly attacked by youth carrying wooden planks and sticks in separate incidents in Manama. It is also reported that six other stabbings of Bangladeshi and Pakistani workers occurred in the same evening.

The perpetrators of violence have not been identified, but the incident confirms fears that spillover from the government's policies of using mercenaries against locals will result in indiscriminate attacks on Asian residents. The BCHR also notes that that the general outbreak of mob violence will inevitably target bystanders, particularly workers who make up the most vulnerable portion of Bahraini society.

BCHR calls for:

- Relevant persons to ensure all government-sponsored thugs (baltajiyyas) are withdrawn from the streets to end the pervading situation of mob rule and violence

- A halt to the policy of recruiting foreign mercenaries and the illegal fast tracking of their citizenship to quell tensions between Bahrainis and foreigners

- Independent, fair and open investigations into all incidents of violence and all deaths which have occurred in the current uprising.