24 Dec 2012

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its grave concern over the escalated use of excessive force by the authorities in Bahrain against peaceful protesters. The BCHR regularly documents a large number of injuries caused by shotgun pellets, tear gas canisters, rubber bullets and sound grenades. Despite the seriousness of these injuries, victims are most often treated in private homes out of fear of being arrested from the militarized hospitals. The following description of injuries was prepared in collaboration with doctors in Bahrain in order to present the most thorough and accurate description of these human rights violations as possible.

Photo: Woman who was shot in the foot

On the 17th of December, 2012, a peaceful, pro-democracy protest was held in Manama which was violently attacked by security forces and resulted in many severe injuries being reported that day (bahrainrights.hopto.org/en/node/5572). Among the injured was a young woman who was peacefuly protesting when she was hit by a direct shot to her foot with a 1kg tear gas canister. As a result, she sustained a 3-bone fracture in the foot that required immediate treatment. Fearing arrest she was treated and operated on in an undisclosed location. In regard to full recovery, the prognosis is poor and it is expected that she will suffer from long-term pain and deformity.

Photo: A protester shot with tear gas canister at forearm.

On the same day, a young man was directly shot at with a tear gas canister in his forearm which resulted in an open fracture in his forearm and a shattered bone. He too sought medical care and was operated on in secret out of fear of arrest. However, his recovery depends on the quality of care and follow-up treatment which is only available in the Salmaniya Medical Complex which is currently under military control.

Photo of protester's leg shows the magnitude of injury

This photo is of a protester who was shot by the security forces with shotgun pellets and is currently suffering from a very large number of pellets currently lodged in his body. Due to the severity of his injury and pain he is trying to seek medical help from multiple sources as the main hospital in Bahrain is under military control and he can expect to be arrested from this hospital.

Several teenagers were shot in the face with shotguns and are at risk of blindness in one or both eyes. One of those protesters is currently in very poor condition with the possibility of losing sight in both eyes; he is seeking private medical care. Also, three more protesters are suffering from eye injuries, they are in critical condition and the possibility of losing sight in is high. It is still unclear whether their condition will improve at the moment.

The authorities’ use of the illegal weaponry, namely the unwarrented use of shotgun pellets, has escalated and is clearly evident in the number of injuries reported to the BCHR regularly from different areas in Bahrain. There are protesters who are seriously injured for being shot in the chest and face. Some are suffering from breathing problems as a result of the pellets having penetrated into the lungs, yet they cannot seek proper medical care in hospitals and are treated in private homes. The photos below are examples of four protesters who were seriously wounded.

Photos: Four cases of shotgun pellets injuries from the night of December 14th

More injuries were documented by representatives of the BCHR, however, the victims did not allow photos to be taken out of fear of reprisals, amongst these cases are three caused by shotgun injuries, and one of a female who was hit with tear gas canister in her thigh. One of the protesters who allowed the BCHR to document his injuries wondered aloud about his chances of being arrested if he sought medical help in Bahrain’s Hospitals. He stated to the BCHR that if the person he reported the injury to (referring to Sayed Yousif Al Muhafdha), was not safe from arrest, then there will be no doubt that he too would be arrested if he went to one of the hospitals in Bahrain. Such is the state of the hospital system in Bahrain. BCHR has previously reported several cases of arrests of injured people from the hospitals in recent months (please read: the case of Hussain Shamsan and the case of Ahmed Aoun)

On the 19th of December, 2012, armed policemen in civilian clothing driving a white Toyota stopped in Al Duraz village and attacked a young man in order to extract information out of him for their house raids in the village later that night. The young man was violently attacked by those policemen, and he sustained multiple deep cut wounds to his forearm which left his hand numb. The attack only stopped when the police received a call through their radio that the house raids had begun.

Photo: Deep cut wounds sustained on the forearm

Despite King Hamad Bin Isa’s claims that Bahrain will always be a nation of tolerance and liberties in his speech on the 16th of December, the use of excessive force has escalated against peaceful protests and the BCHR regularly receives a large number of reports of injuries.

The BCHR is concerned and disappointed by the silence of the international community and the lack of concrete actions to put an end to the authorities' violence towards peaceful protesters and their militarization of Salmaniya Medical Complex.

The BCHR also calls on the United States, the United Kingdom, the UN and all other allies and international institutions to put pressure of the Government of Bahrain to stop its use of excessive force in response to the continued peaceful protests, and to consider a meaningful solution to resolve the persistent political issues of instability in the country.

The BCHR calls on the Government of Cyprus and other Ally Governments to Bahrain to stop supplying the government of Bahrain with arms that are used against peaceful protesters, causing severe injuries and deaths among them.

Photo: Victory Starlight birdshot, which are manufactured in Cyprus, found on site this month following police attack on people