Injuries and Victims among them Children The Special Forces Excessively Use Live Ammunition to Suppress the Demonstrators

7 December 2009

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its deep concern for the grave escalation that the Bahrain authorities are pursuing, represented in its policy in shooting live ammunition (shotgun) when facing the public protests that demand releasing the detainees whose majority were arrested for participating in the demonstrations and events witnessed in the various areas of Bahrain, due to the government's persistence in its policy of changing and manipulating the demography through the continued political naturalization process and the systematic discrimination against the Shiite community at all levels, and in marginalizing their villages and districts, and in the return of the systematic torture in the Bahraini prisons since 2006, and for bringing, exploiting and training the foreign mercenary men[1] to face the protests witnessed in the towns and villages of Bahrain, and which are brought by the security apparatuses to participate in the Special Forces of the National Security or the civil militias affiliated with it.

What distinguishes this period is that it was inaugurated with a statement by the Director-General of the Police Directorate of the Northern Governorate, which was sent to the press, stating: "The Ministry of Interior will not relent in dealing firmly and strongly with the outlaws, against those criminal acts that target the life and security of the citizens, and that the security men have legal powers that allow them to use firearm in facing that astray and outlaw group whenever necessary. However, they still abide by the restraint policy despite the continuous attacks on them." In another statement of the Director-General of the Police Directorate of Muharraq Governorate that, "The security men shot several warning shots in the evening of the day before yesterday – Monday 16 November – in Der area, due to a group of troublemakers and vandals, after gathering, setting fire in tires and garbage containers which obstructed traffic, indicating the demonstrators who used Molotov Cocktails, stones and steel skewers, which necessitated the intervention of the forces of order to maintain security and to stop and prevent these acts that lead to putting lives and properties at risk." These statements were accompanied by a violent campaign marked by excessive use of force and the use of live ammo after a interruption that lasted several months, besides the use of rubber bullets against the demonstrators whose ages range between 12 to 25 years old, as well as using the means of collective punishment against the Shiite villages and areas, such as crashing parked cars or beating the by passers[2] in those protesting areas, and drowning them with teargases. Usually these Special Forces, behind these collective punishments, aim at pressurizing the notable figures and dwellers of these villages and areas to prompt them to stop these protest acts.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights documented several cases where live ammo ( fission bullets), which are usually used in hunting birds and small animals, and some of these villages and areas are Karzakan, Bilad-Al-Qadeem, Sitra, Der in the north of Muharraq, Duraz, Karana, Abu-Saibaa, and they are all Shiite villages. Participating in this security campaign are individuals wearing civilian clothes and driving civilian cars (militias), roaming the various villages and areas and shooting live ammo at the demonstrators, normally these civilians are of the same groups that the security panels bring in to work as mercenaries in the lines of the Special Forces. Bahrain still refuses to sign the International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries. In the evening of Thursday 19 November 2009, one of the citizens confirmed to the BCHR that he witnessed one of the members of those groups in a civilian car (White Pickup Toyota – the BCHR is keeping record of its plate number), it parks beside Costa coffee shop at the Abu-Saibaa village roundabout – shooting live ammo at the protestors and demonstrators from inside the car, at a time when some of the demonstrators were setting fire to tires or garbage containers, in a situation that does not necessitate opening fire due to the lack of any real danger to the lives of these individuals. Several eyewitnesses confirmed that the Special Forces turned to using (Shoguns) bullets to disperse the demonstrators in a number of villages and areas in Bahrain, which resulted in several injuries.

The BCHR fears that the use of foreigners as mercenaries to suppress the protests will lead to the growing feeling of hatred towards all foreigners, especially whilst the authority is going to extremes in its policy in granting them the Bahraini citizenship, and the BCHR also fears that the cover-up used against the demonstrators by using civilian cars to raid the villages by individuals wearing civilian clothes may put many innocent civilians at risk, due to the reactions of the demonstrators towards these Forces which might be marred by error or inaccurate identification which may lead to the injury of citizens who have nothing to do with the almost daily confrontations.

The shootings in last March against four children by the same security groups received press coverage in one of the local newspapers; it however received a flow of criticism and pressures by the authority or newspapers and writers in alliance with it as a result of that coverage. That played a negative role in the local newspapers declining to cover the live shootings against the demonstrators that are happening these days in fear of the authority's reaction.

Due to the fear that haunts the victims of the shootings of arrests and security prosecutions, the majority of them were hesitant in turning to the hospitals to receive proper treatment, and is only at content with the home healings or some folk treatments, which constitutes a major threat to their lives or future health. Worthy of mentioning, that local hospitals have orders of the need to inform the security apparatuses before proceeding to treat any injured in the protest demonstrations – the BCHR holds the Bahraini authorities full responsibility of the fall of victims and reminds them of the dozens killed as a result of the live shootings during the nineties in the confrontations that demanded reforms. Yet it failed to bring those protests to a halt, and that the reform promises of the country's King during that period played a role in putting off that uprising. Based on that, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights believes that the excessive use of force will only lead to more escalation and violent acts which will have a role in aggravating and complicating the general state of affairs instead of finding solutions to it.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights presents some cases that were documented of some victims of the live ammo shootings, and without revealing their identities or details of some victims according to their or their families' wish. The BCHR is however ready to provide their identities or any other details not mentioned here to any local or international legal body for any independent investigation.

The village of Der witnessed demonstrations and protests in the evening of Monday 16 November that ended with the shootings of live ammo at the demonstrators by the Special Forces affiliated with the National Security Apparatuses, which resulted in numerous injuries, among the known ones was the child Kumail Al-Ghanamy (15 years old) who was arrested with his wounds and put to jail in the dawn of Tuesday 17 November, when the Special Forces stormed his house to arrest him with three other youngsters from that village and they were taken to unknown areas, after that photos of him spread on the internet clarifying the large number of injuries from shotgun bullets in different parts of his body. Der: the youngster Kumail Al-Ghanamy (15 years old) and heavy injuries with shotgun bullets in many parts of his body

There are many other injuries that have fallen in the same area or other areas of the Bahraini villages and areas during the same period. Their victims still suffer from the wounds but dread to be treated in hospitals in fear of being arrested.

Last October, and due to the continued detention of the Karzakan detainees which lasted almost 18 months, the Western Area, especially in villages such as Karzakan, Demestan and Hamala, was marked with almost daily protests that only stopped after the release of the remaining ones on 13 October after acquitting 19 of them on the charge of killing a security force member in April 2008. The security authorities deliberately suppressed those protest which accompanied the excessive violent arrests and detentions and caused the injury of several young men from the area with live ammo (shuzen). All those injuries are being documented and photos published for the first time due to the earlier mentioned apprehensions, and the following photos of some those injuries have been treated in a traditional manner behind closed doors.

Last March, amid the several protests witnessed in the various areas of the country that demand the release of the detainees, the Bahraini (Al-Wasat) newspaper had followed up with the injury of four children, their ages range between 11 and 14 years old, the Special Forces had shot them while being in different parts of Sanabes area, which led to transferring them to hospital and performing surgeries to remove some small metal clusters that pierced different parts of their bodies. According to that newspaper issued on 3 April 2009, "the doctors decided not to perform the surgery to extract the <<23 metal clusters>> from the body of the injured Akbar Ali (14 years old) to avoid its effect on his future health.

Sanabes: the injured Ali Akbar (14 years old) wounded with 23 Shotgun splinters in different parts of his body

The father of the injured stated that the doctors informed him that there is currently no use of performing any surgery to his son to remove the splinters he was wounded with, and that the splinters pierced and rested in deep parts of his body where it has become difficult and dangerous to attempt to remove them due to the possibility of nerve damage". Elsewhere in the same newspaper, "As to the injured Hussein Talib (11 years old) and Yousif Abbas (13 years old) who were shot with (Shuzen) bullets in what was known as Sanabes incident, the doctors removed 9 splinters from the former and two from the latter." The child's father mentioned to <> that he saw one of the splinters being removed from one of the children (11 and 13 year olds) who were injured with his son after removing some splinters from them in the surgery performed to them two days ago, indicating that that it was <> and not circular, and that it is very small. Reports indicate that the Special Forces shot shotgun bullets on Ali Akbar (14 years old) in his back when he was returning home in the village of Belad-Al-Qadeem, after he finished playing football with his friends in Sanabes. As to Hussein Talib (11 years old), the Forces shot the shotgun bullets in his back and leg when he was leaving the mosque after performing the Maghreb and Isha prayers. Another child (13 years old) was also injured with bullets from the shotgun, and which hit him in the leg and back. Abdullah Suwar (12 year old) was shot as well with shotgun bullets in various parts of his body and he was transmitted to the hospital as a result of that. The Public Prosecution charged the boys, who were shot with shotgun bullets in Sanabes, with crowding and riot and ordered their release.

Last mid March, in protest against the government's acquisition of lands on the grounds that they were expropriated for "military purposes", demonstrations broke out in the village of Muhaza in Sitra Island demanding the halt of the burials of the north coast of Sitra. Those demonstrations resulted in injuries among the demonstrators; many of them were due to the direct use of shotgun bullets on their bodies.

Sitra: a young man (22 years old) injured with shotgun bullets in his legs and another injured near his left eye

Because the security apparatuses arrested some activists from Duraz area, the people gathered by the village's roundabout in a peaceful protest on 15 March 2009. However the Special Forces attacked them by using live ammo (shuzen), in addition to the use of rubber bullets and tear gas. This attack led to the injury of several demonstrators.[3]

Duraz: a traditional removal of the shotgun bullets from the bodies of three injured

The BCHR believes that the use of excessive force and live ammo against the demonstrators reflects the intolerance of the authority towards those that criticize its policy, and its failure in dealing with the legal public demands which it can set solutions to in a more peaceful and civilized manner. It is required to deal more seriously in solving those outstanding issues that are causing all these protests instead of suppressing them. Some of the main reasons that are driving those protests and which demand the authority's attention is its policy in practicing systematic discrimination – on all levels – against the people of the country from the Shiite sect and their areas of residence, and which finds (meaning the discrimination) care and adaptation by the governing authority, as well as the political naturalization which aims at changing the social and cultural fabric of the country's population and to make its citizens – Sunnis and Shiites – a minority, and the escalation of systematic torture in the prisons of the security forces and the continuous arrests of the peaceful protestors and demonstrators, and the prevention of peaceful demonstrations, sit-ins and forums that are against the authority's policy.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights recommends the following:

1. To stop the use of all types of firearms and to stop the use of excessive force against the civilians.

2. To stop bringing and training foreign mercenaries to work in the lines of the security apparatuses.

3. To dissolve the National Security Apparatus and the Special Security Forces affiliated with it, and return its powers to the regular security institutions.

4. To stop the use of civilian cars or individuals in civilian clothing to suppress the protests.

5. To initiate an actual dialogue with the pillars of the community to resolve the roots of the crisis the country is going through, and to stop retreating to security solutions.

6. To stop the motives that causes those protests such as the sectarian discrimination, political naturalization, systematic torture and continuous arrests and others.

Contact information of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights: Email: info@bahrainrights.org Fax: +973 – 17795170 Electronic Websites:

· www.bahrainrights.org

· www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=50727622539

· www.twitter.com/bahrainrighs

· bahrainrights.blogspot.com

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[1] The Bahraini authorities continuous use of mercenaries to face the public demand movements leads to the growing hostility against foreigners http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/2893

[2] Photos clarifying the assault of the Riot Forces against a citizen after forcing him to step down from his car http://bahraninet.net/showthread.php?t=42161

[3] http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/2811