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The Bahraini government continues its crackdown on protesters

Bahrain’s military court has sentenced four anti-government protesters to death, in a move to further crush the ongoing revolutionary movement in the small Persian Gulf country. This comes while the Manama regime rejects reports by a number of human rights groups on massive rights violations in the country. According to local sources, Bahraini authorities have raided hospitals, torturing doctors and injuring anti-government protesters in an effort to quell mass protests.

Human Rights Watch, Doctors Without Borders and Physicians for Human Rights have charged Bahraini security officials with systematic attacks on doctors and patients. Physicians for Human Rights say doctors and nurses have been detained, tortured or disappeared because they have «evidence of atrocities committed by the authorities, security forces and riot police» in the crackdown on anti-government protesters.

Press TV interviews Nabeel Rajab of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights in Manama who describes the fearful living conditions in Bahrain.

Press TV: With this six-year-old boy that has been killed – We hear every day different excuses by the Saudi-backed regime forces saying why they have killed or detained demonstrators, etc. What excuse, if any, has been given for the killing of this six-year-old child?

20/4: A female Bahraini activist who has composed anti-government poems has been killed, after being arrested and raped by Manama forces. Ayat al-Ghermezi, 20, had recited her poems, in which she slammed the ruling regime and Bahraini Prime Minister Khalifah Ibn Salman al-Khalifah, during protests in Pearl Square in the capital city, Manama, Fardanews reported. Shortly afterwards, Ghermezi received an influx of insulting and intimidating letters and emails, but when she referred to the police to report the threats, she was insulted and mocked by officers, her family says. In late March, security forces raided Ghermezi's home twice, threatening her family to reveal Ayat's whereabouts, otherwise they would “destroy the house over your heads, by the order of high-ranking officials.” After the security forces coerced Gehrmezi's family into disclosing her hideout, the family heard no word from her, Ayat's mother said. When the family started searching for Ayat, the police told them they have no information about Ayat and tried to force them to confirm through a letter that their daughter had gone missing. In mid-April, an anonymous call was made to Gehrmezi's family, informing them that Ayat was in coma at an army Hospital. At the hospital, doctors confirmed that Ayat had gone into coma after being raped for several times. Eventually, the physicians' efforts failed to save Ayat's life and she died at the army hospital. So far, several other women, including doctors, university professors and students, have been kidnapped or arrested by Bahraini security forces. Since mid-February, thousands of anti-government protesters in Bahrain have poured into the streets, calling for an end to Al-Khalifa dynasty, which has ruled the country for almost forty years. On March 13, Saudi-led forces were dispatched to the Persian Gulf island at Manama's request to quell the countrywide protests. According to local sources, dozens of people have been killed and hundreds arrested so far during the government clampdown on the peaceful demonstrations.

Rajab: The government never responds, normally, in such cases. I have not documented this case and only know what I have read on the Internet, which reports that he suffocated from teargas, the strange teargas the government has been using lately, which many people are suffering from and it seems that he was admitted to hospital and a day or two later he died.

The government has not responded over the event just as they haven’t responded on the continuation of the many arrests taking place where detainees were beaten and tortured. Many have suffered from torture including those (four) convicted (sentenced to death for allegedly killing two policemen) in the military court the other day; one almost lost his eye due to beatings. We have reports that doctors were beaten at the hospital as they were arrested; humiliated and tortured in the past days according to people that have been released recently.

International condemnation and reports of international human rights groups has not changed the Bahraini government position. Still there are hospitals and doctors and nurses targeted. In a statement by the government, they claim to have released 350 people, but according to us we have been able to document that some 30-40 people have been released. We haven’t become aware of any more than that.

The situation is very frightening inside Bahrain, there is an atmosphere of fear for everyone, particularly those who have talked to the radio and TV networks; who have had some of their family members targeted because they are exposing to the international community what is going on inside Bahrain.

Press TV: Concerning the detentions where people are being held without charge and basically not receiving a trial and a lot of times the families don’t know where they are – Can you give us a break down on the situation inside the prisons in Bahrain about what people are faced with?

Rajab: There are approximately two political prisoners for every 1,000 Bahraini citizens in prison and all of them were detained because of the uprising, which was calling for democracy and human rights so they are punished for their participation.

As you know, hundreds of thousands participated, no less than 50 percent of the entire population, were out protesting, which represents a massive revolutionary presence. Now the government is targeting them in the living environment and schools and at work arresting them, firing them, beating them in the streets and raiding villages; even demolishing their mosques. In excess of 1,000 have been detained just in the past days, of which more than 80 are women. We don’t know the exact numbers because the government arrests people without informing the families.

These prisoners have no access to lawyers or family members. We know from the people that have been released that most people that go in are tortured very badly and now it is not only torture in the prisons, but these forces are torturing people in their homes. They carry their electrocution devices into people’s homes as they go in to arrest them. They ransack and destroy the homes, stealing money and valuables; we have had many houses robbed by security forces. The damage from the raids is extensive with all furniture and even fridges destroyed.

There is collective punishment against residents from all the villages also. If someone protests in a village, the whole village population is pressured by attacks using teargas and bullets both rubber and live ammunition each night until the protests stop. So we have collective punishment in all our villages.

People are still getting wounded and the hospital is still occupied by the military so we cannot take people there because they will be arrested, tortured and beaten inside the hospital no matter if they are wounded, so most wounded are being treated at home. The situation is critical. We are witnessing a human rights crisis and a humanitarian crisis and we need the international community to pressure the Bahrain government to stop the crimes.


Democracy Now 28/4: Syria has intensified its massive crackdown on demonstrators, despite the lifting of emergency rule last week that banned demonstrations. Al Jazeera reports thousands of troops backed with tanks have swept into the southern city of Daraa, where a curfew is in place, setting up snipers on rooftops and killing at least 20 people. Government security forces have also stormed the large Damascus suburb of Douma. These latest developments follow protests on Friday that ended with more than 100 people killed in the deadliest day since the uprising began. We go to Syria to speak to Rula Amin of Al Jazeera and Razan Zaitouneh, human rights lawyer and activist.


 

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