Arrests in Jidhafs after house raided

Said Yousif Almuhafda, head of monitoring at the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, reports that “police raided a a house in Jidhafs and they arrested 16 protesters”. He shared four pictures:


Earlier in the day, a group of young men blocked a main road in Jidhafs with burning tyres, as part of the “Flame Volcanoes” anti-F1 campaign which had been initiated by the underground February 14th Youth Coalition.

There have also been reports of a 15 year old boy arrested in Sitra, and another young teenager arrested in Al Dair.

According to Said Yousif, several children who were arrested in Duraz, Sanabis, Musalla and Daih have been released after having been beaten.



Maryam AlKhawaja asks “What happens when the cameras are gone?”

With the race now over, Maryam AlKhawaka, Acting President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, writes for The Independent:

There are those who say that the Formula One should not be canceled, but instead used as an opportunity to get media attention for the situation on the ground. It is true that media attention is not only appreciated, but also crucial to improving the situation on the ground in Bahrain. The question is not whether Bahraini’s benefit from the media attention which will highlight their plight as they continue their struggle for rights and freedoms, but rather what takes place during the race – and more importantly, what happens after the cameras are gone.

Salah Abbas Habib was well respected amongst the protesters. He was a father of four young children, and their only provider. During last year’s race, he was stopped by security forces, severely beaten, and shot with pellets. His dead body was found the next morning.

A group of minors were arrested in April 2012 in preparation for the Formula One. Some of them were thrown off the roof of the house they were in. They were reportedly severely beaten, which in some cases amounted to torture. They remained in prison until June that year. Some are currently in hiding, because they are wanted by authorities. Others are in prison after getting sentenced. The plight of these minors did not stop with the end of the race.

On the afternoon of the April 18, 2013, security forces arrested four children in Bani Jamrah. One of these children was 13-year-old Mahdi Salah Al-Khawaja. When Mahdi was just 11 years old, security forces pointed a gun to his face as they raided his family home. He then watched as his father was beaten severely, taken up to the roof, thrown off, then taken away. His mother was taken into a room and sexually assaulted. His father was subjected to severe torture then sentenced to 5 years imprisonment, which he continues to serve today. Mahdi has been traumatized for two years, and today he was arrested, hit on the head and held at a police station for several hours.

The question then, is not whether the media attention accompanying the race is important or not, the question is who will compensate the victims of this race for the price of getting that attention? When the cameras are gone, the crackdown intensifies as revenge, and the world is no longer paying attention; who will take care of Salah Ali’s children? Who will provide a safe place for the minors on the run? And who will hold Mahdi’s hand if he’s afraid of the dark?

Read full article.

Clashes and tear gas at Jabreya school

Jabreya boys secondary school, located about a kilometre from the capital Manama, is once again the site of violence. On Tuesday, dramatic scenes unfolded as the school was attacked by police firing tear gas against students who were protesting the arrest of a fellow student the day before. Today, protests resumed. An Al Jazeera correspondent reports:

Students have barricaded themselves in, we could see smoke from burning tyres and I’ve seen pictures of tear gas outside classrooms. We’re hearing reports that two students are injured. They are protesting because a fellow student was removed from the school last week by plain clothes police. He is still in custody. This has died down and now we are seeing sporadic clashes with police and protesters.

Photojournalist Mazen Mahdi tried to cover the unfolding events, but authorities prevented him. About 10:30 local time Mazen tweeted:

Police kicking me out from the protest near the school in Manama claiming without police media ID journalist can’t work

Half an hour earlier, Said Yousif Almuhafda, head of monitoring at the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, tweeted this picture of tear gas being used against the students, sent to him from inside the school:


Other photographs from inside the school have been posted online by the “Sanabis Revolutionary Movement”.

Said Yousif later drove towards the location of the school and reported that he could see “riot police blocking the road” leading to the school, and a helicopter hovering above it. He took this picture of the police outside:


Shortly before midday, local time, one activist, Maryam, tweeted an eyewitness account:

I’m now next to AlJabriya school. Gun shots are being heard non stop. Mercenaries are aiming directly at students while shooting. Toxic gas canisters all around AlJabriya school area. AlJabriya’s school campus is more like a war-zone!

Students are out from the entrance next to the public garden standing at a close range with mercenaries. As we stood next to AlJabriya school, a man was documenting the attack, mercenaries asked him to hand his phone over to them. Mercenaries asked us to leave telling us that the situation is stable & everything is under control! Yet,we can still hear gunshots.

The officer asked who seemed to be the school doorman if he could recognize any of the guys who started the protest earlier this morning. The doorman replied he couldn’t recognize any of them as their faces were covered. The officer replied, “you expect me to believe this?! You’re telling me you cannot recognize not even one of them?” After that, we were asked to leave that area as the officer told us everything was under control and our stand was unnecessary.

This picture, taken by students, reportedly shows the tear gas cannisters collected by students following the police attack:

Jabreya_School_21-4-2013_teargas1These cannisters are most likely South Korean in origin. Another picture reportedly from the school shows a tear gas cannister manufactured by US firm NonLethal Technologies. A cannister from this company was also identified in Sanabis yesterday.

Further reports of police violence from Sanabis yesterday

Said Yousif Almuhafda, head of monitoring at the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, has been to Sanabis, scene of violent scenes yesterday, to speak with the affected residents. This account is taken from his recent tweets:

Riot police raided a house yesterday in Sanabis, kidnapped a citizen and assaulted women. Women stated to me that riot police beat them with weapons, pepper-sprayed them and cursed them.

I met the kidnapped citizen who stated to me that he was severely beaten in the police jeep in Sanabis. He stated that he was beaten nearly 30 minutes, cursed and threatened by riot police inside the jeep.

Pictures of injuries:

Sanabis_Young_Man_attacked_20-4-2013I met another young man kidnapped yesterday, beaten severely with batons and weapons by riot police. He stated that he was sexually harrassed, burned with lighters and cigarettes and he was threatened to work as an informer.

Said Yousif also shared this video of an arrest of a young man in Sanabis yesterday. At around 0:30 in the video, one of the arresting officers can be seen to jab the young man sharply in the stomach with his baton:

Graves vandalised

Graves in Muharraq cemetery belonging to “victims of extrajudicial killings” were vandalised today. Mohammed AlMaskati observed on Twitter that “specific graves were targeted, those around it were left almost untouched”. He identifies the graves as belonging to Yousif Mowali and Hussam AlHadad.

Muharraq_Graves_vandalisedPicture sources: top left, bottom left, right.

Yousif Mowali was killed in January 2012. The 23 year old man, who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, disappeared on January 11th. His body was found two days later. Authorities claimed the cause of death was drowning. However, his body showed clear signs of torture. A Turkish forensics expert was able to covertly enter the country and examine him. She concluded: “We have proved that the scars on the hands and feet were the scars of electrical torture. The victim was most likely unconscious when he was thrown into the sea and this is why he drowned.”

Hussam AlHaddad, 16, was shot dead by security forces on August 17th, 2012. Authorities described him as a “rioter” involved in a “terror act”. Accounts by eyewitnesses dispute this. His family also contest the official claims. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) offered this account, from eyewitnesses: “Hussam was shot with shotgun pellets which made him fall to the ground. Then, one of his family members witnessed him getting kicked repeatedly by a man in civilian clothing while security forces stood idly watching. Finally when a family member was able to retrieve him, Hussam was soaked in blood. He opened his eyes for a second then fell unconscious.” Following examination of his body, BCHR reported observing “marks of severe beating on his back and shoulder”.

Opposition graffiti in Barbar defaced, reportedly by police

At the start of the month, several walls in Barbar were decorated with either anti-F1 artwork, or graffiti highlighting leading human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience. Today, the walls have all been defaced, reportedly by police:

Graffiti in Barbar 2



Graffiti showing Abdulhadi AlKhawaja, a founder of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, and his daughter Zainab AlKhawaja. Both are currently behind bars and recognised internationally as prisoners of conscience;

Barbar_graffitiBarbar_graffiti_defacedTo see more opposition graffiti in Bahrain, visit the Rebellious Walls website.

New cartoon by Carlos Latuff against the Bahrain F1

The work of cartoonist Carlos Latuff is incredibly popular amongst Bahraini activists. His images routinely appear on protests signs and have even been reproduced as graffiti. Earlier this week, an actual photograph of a police beating echoed one of his anti-F1 cartoons from last year.

Latuff has just released a new cartoon for the 2013 Bahrain Grand Prix:


Latuff’s cartoons on Bahrain can be found on his website.