Formula1 Second day: a protester killed, activists arrested, dozens injured
This is an update to April 19 statment: After threats by the Minister of Interior of escalation against the demonstrators: dozens injured protesters with shotguns
21 April 2012
Following statements from Bahraini government officials ensuring that they would provide the safety and security of F1 racers and fans, as well as threats from the Minister of Interior of escalation against protesters, the regime has intensified the crackdown against pro-democracy protesters. Weeks before the scheduled F1, villages were raided and more than 60 activists and democracy movement leaders were arrested and tortured. Collective punishment has been worsening by the use of teargas and shotguns specifically. Dozens of injuries were reported, especially of shotgun, many of which are serious.
On the second day of F1, the dead body of 36 year old Salah Abbas Habib was found. Salah is known to be a pro-democracy activist and leader in his village Abu Saibaa. He was arrested last night by riot police alongside more than 10 others after a peaceful protest when police stormed the village. All of the arrested were released after being brutally tortured, except for Salah. His family searched for him yet they could not find him. This morning, Salah’s body was found on a roof of a building in Al Shakhoura village. Witnesses confirmed shotgun injuries and torture marks on his body.
Activists on the scene, the martyr's family and press crew were dispersed with stun grenades and told to go to the morgue. The police attempted to arrest photojournalist of EPA, Mazen Mahdi while he was covering the event. Human Rights activists were not allowed to see the body and confirm the allegations further, but have seen the torture marks left on bodies of the other protesters who were arrested and beaten along with Salah. The area were Salah was found has been packed with security forces' vehicles and personnel and no one was allowed near.
To further suppress the pro-democracy movement and maintain their image, Bahrain authorities have arrested activist, Mohammed Hasan (26). He was escorting reporters to protesting villages to show them the atrocities of the regime against peaceful protesters. Mohamed was hit with a gun barrel in his leg and badly beaten up before getting arrested. His brother saw bruises on his face. He was taken to Salmaniya hospital where he was seen with a bleeding nose. He was denied access to lawyer and is currently detained at the dry dock detention center. Just recently, Mohamed appeared on the Dan Rather report. He was asked if it was safe for him to speak to the press, he replied “I don’t care anymore. My friends have been in prison, some of them are still in prison, and some of them are in hiding and some of them are dead.” He continues “by now if anything would have happened, I would’ve accepted it, I have no choice but to accept it.” Mohammed told his friend “I started getting some calls after appearing on DanRatherReport, waiting to see their next move.” Their next move was to have him arrested and beaten. He also participated in a Bahrain debate, a group of Bahraini youth of different views aiming to bridge their differences. Mohammed was clear in supporting the rights of people and firmly refused violence.
Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) has documented dozens of shotgun injuries in different villages in Bahrain. BCHR activists have witnessed tens of peaceful protests being violently suppressed by shotguns and excessive use of toxic gases.
Bahrain Center for Human Rights gravely condemns the escalation of brutal violations of human rights in Bahrain with silence from organizations and governments all over the world, and support of a dictatorial regime which violently attacks its people because they call for democracy and basic rights. This unequivocal support for the Formula 1 race being held despite ongoing violations committed by the regime is a shame. We call for an end to all abuses and crackdown against Bahraini people, to respect the right to peacefully assembly and freedom of expression, the release of Mohamed Hasan and all political prisoners who have been imprisoned for practicing freedom of assembly and expression in accordance to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and to have an urgent independent, fair and transparent investigation in the murder of Salah Abbas, holding those responsible accountable for their crime.