2 Aug 2011

In a move supposedly intended to end the crises in Bahrain, King Hamad Al-Khalifa funded a commission to look into crimes committed against the people of Bahrain since February of 2011. The BICI headed by Mr. Bassiouni has just recently started its work and opened their doors for complaints and testimonies. However, they are welcomed with a mixture of skepticism and fear by the people of Bahraini.

One of the reasons people are not more hopeful about this commission is that while the BICI looks into crimes committed in previous month, more crimes are happening on the streets. The most serious of which is the death of Zainab Jummah, caused by excessive tear gas used by riot police to attack not only peaceful protesters but also homes in the villages where protests take place. On the 16th of July, Mrs Jummah a 42 year old mother, who was already ill, died after her house was attacked by tear gas. There are several videos with disturbing footage showing riot police intentionally shooting tear gas into the homes of unsuspecting civilians. There have been other similar cases of suffocation by tear gas in earlier months, what makes this case unique is that it happened during a time the Bahraini regime was preparing for the commission which they claimed would be a transitional move.

On the 23rd of July, the night before BICI's opening press conference, an 18 year old protester was beaten severely by riot police in the village of AL-Eker. Five riot police kicked and hit him with their guns mostly on his head which resulted in a head injury, then left him on the street. When the protester was found he had a wound in his head and was covered in blood. Fearing that if police identified him he would get arrested, the victim has asked not to be named in this report.

Al-Eker injured protester

While investigators are now interviewing victims who have come forward despite the security issues, riot police are still attacking peaceful protesters in the villages, sometimes causing serious injuries. On the 27th of July, Mahdi Hassan Al-Eskafi (24 years old) from Bilad Al-Qadeem got a direct hit to the head with what is believed to be either a stun grenade or a tear gas canister. Because injured protesters are targeted by the regime, Al-Eskafi was taken to the office of MSF (Doctors without Borders). However, MSF soon realized his condition was too critical and he needed to be hospitalized immediately. An ambulance was called and Al-Eskafi was taken to Salmaniya Hospital where he is now in a coma.

Mahdi Hassan Al-Eskafi

This incident led to more violations by the government of Bahrain; MSF office was attacked the next day and Saeed Ayyad the local Coordinator of Doctors Without Borders was arrested. Mr Ayyad is still imprisoned and being charged with aiding fugitives, and opening an illegal medical office amongst other things. Fearing for their safety, the MSF foreign staff have left Bahrain.

A third case is the kidnapping and severe beating of Ammar Madan by police officers. On the 30th of July Ammar was picked up from the streets of Al-Daih, while he was on his way to attend his brothers engagement. Mr. Madan was taken to the exhibition center police station, beaten severely for two hours and urinated on by two officers. After which he was thrown on the street beside AL-Daih garden where he was threatened that if he told anyone he was attacked by police, he would be kidnapped again. Ammar is now in the hospital suffering from broken ribs, both his arms, jaw and wrist fractured, an injured lung and trauma to his back. [X-rays photos at bottom]

Ammar Madan

These incidents have also convinced many that speaking to the BICI could put their lives in danger. Many victims, who have already been subjected to a myriad of abuses, are still living in fear and have received no guarantees for their safety if they do speak to BICI. In a press conference Mr Bassiouni said that the commission had no capabilities to ensure peoples safety but have faith in the kings promise to ensure the safety of all who cooperate with the commission. However, having faith in the kings promise is much more risky for victims than it is for Mr Bassiouni and his team. The fact that many released detainees have ongoing legal cases against them also makes them more vulnerable and at risk for repeated detention and torture. Therefore, for the time being many victims are not willing to give their testimonies to the BICI commission.

The violations committed by the Bahraini government at the time of BICI's investigation shows an obvious contradiction, and raises many questions about the intentions of King Hamads decision in bringing an investigation committee to Bahrain.

The BCHR demands that human rights violations by the Bahraini regime must stop immediately, that the cases mentioned must be investigated and those responsible for these crimes held accountable.

X-Rays photos of Ammar Madan

Broken right arm

Broken ribs 6-9 (left)
Broken right leg