Bahrain: Remove Baseless Restrictions on Burial Rituals and Allow Family to Hold Funeral Where They Choose
01 MAR 2013
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights is concerned over the restrictions placed by the authorities over the funeral and burial of Mahmood Al-Jazeeri, who passed away one week ago as a result of injuries caused by a teargas canister fired directly at his head on the 14th of February (More details: http://bahrainrights.hopto.org/en/node/5655). The BCHR has received reports that his body is still in the custody of the Bahraini authorities and that his family is being prevented from claiming the body for funeral and burial in the location they choose.
The authorities are dictating where the funeral should be held. While the family wants to have it in the village of Al Daih where the family originally comes from and most of Mahmood’s family is living, the authorities will only allow them to hold the funeral in Nabih Saleh village to ensure minimum attendance as there is only one entrance to the village, which is also far away from the center of protests (the pearl roundabout). Bahrain does not have any laws dictating where a funeral must be held. The reason provided by the authorities for withholding the body is that this would "establish a precedent that was contrary to religious and social traditions of Bahrain” but has no bearing on the legal code of the country. Withholding the body is therefore illegal and a violation of the family's human rights.
Hasan Al Jazeeri, Mahmood’s brother, started a hunger strike on the 26th of February in protest of the authorities actions. Hasan is currently in detention and is serving one year’s imprisonment for a conviction he received in an unfair trial on the charge of illegal gathering and rioting, which is a common charge in Bahrain. Mahmood’s mother is appealing to be allowed to bury her son. (See: http://www.alwasatnews.com/3827/news/read/742663/1.html)
It is important to note that the placement of restrictions on the funeral of those killed by the police is not a new occurrence in Bahrain. In the 1990s the authorities forced some families to bury their killed sons without any formal funeral and in presence of only a few family members. The authorities exercise what seems to be systematic harassment of the mourners of the victims claimed by the police brutality. Since Feb 14, 2011, all funerals of the deceased have been attacked by police. It is unfortunately very common that mourners at funerals have been subjected to numerous teargas assaults by Bahraini police officers. Deaths and injuries have been reported as a result of police attacks on funerals including the death of Fadhel Al-Matrook who was shot dead with birdshots on the 15th of February 2011.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls on the authorities of Bahrain to remove restrictions on burial rituals of the deceased and instead focus on holding the responsible officials in the security forces accountable for the death of Al-Jazeeri. Although there have been dozens of extra-juridical victims, no official has been fully held accountable for these violations of human rights.