CIVICUS denounces violence against peaceful demonstrators in Bahrain
17 March 2011. Johannesburg.CIVICUS: World Alliance for Participation today called on the Bahrain government to end the “shocking” use of violence against peaceful demonstrators in Manama and use of foreign troops, attributing the response as a “flagrant violation” of peoples legitimate right to dissent.
Recent reports indicate after 48 hours of police crackdown in Bahrain capital Manama, at least five people have been killed and 300 wounded after being mercilessly beaten by Bahraini authorities. Hospitals have been blockaded by riot police and scores of medical personnel report being beaten and tortured by security guards.
Bahraini troops are being aided by 1500 troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates through a controversial bilateral treaty that allows them to offer military support to each other during an emergency determined at the discretion of the requesting government.
“The deployment of foreign forces on Bahraini soil, possibly to clamp down on pro-democracy demonstrators, is a menacing threat to Bahraini citizens exercising their fundamental human rights under international law,” said Ingrid Srinath, CIVICUS Secretary General. “It is ominously reminiscent of Muammar Gaddafi’s declaration of outright war against Libya’s own citizens.”
The protestors have rejected claims from the government that the troops have been deployed to protect strategic sites like oil depots and have voiced concerns that these additional troops will join the riot police in committing gross human rights violations and abuse of citizens in Bahrain.
Inspired by pro-reform demonstrations that have triggered the fall of authoritarian regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, peaceful demonstrators and activists have over the last month called for political and constitutional reforms and an end to discrimination in Bahraini society.
“Democracies that openly spoke in favour of political reforms during the protests in Tunisia and Egypt have been very silent on Bahrain” said David Kode, Policy Officer for CIVICUS. “We urge all democratic governments unequivocally to condemn the violence used to quell demonstrations in Bahrain, whether by national or foreign security forces.”
Over the last two days, security forces and riot police have significantly intensified brutal attacks on peaceful demonstrators, using teargas, rubber bullets, shotgun pellets and helicopters to disperse them.
King Isa Al Khalifa recently declared martial law under a three-month state of emergency, thereby giving security forces more leverage to stop and search citizens, disperse demonstrators by force, close down NGOs and prevent meetings from taking place.
“Use of foreign troops to quell the pro-democracy protests is reprehensible and offers a threat to international peace and security that must be recognised by the international community,” Kode said.