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:

Jabreya_School_21-4-2013_teargas

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:

Jabreya_School_21-4-2013_police

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.

Police attack protest in Sanabis, raid house, beat women

This afternoon, Dr Ala’a Shehabi, an academic, activist and founding member of Bahrain Watch, went to Sanabis to document the protests there. Within an hour, police had arrived. Ala’a took shelter in a house which was then raided by security forces who reportedly beat some of the women up and used CS spray on them. A young man fell from a roof, suffering serious injuries, but there was no access to medical help. The situation is still tense. At 6:45pm local time, Ala’a described Sanabis as a “scene of carnage”.

Below is a edited account of the unfolding events, taken from Ala’as tweets and pictures. All of her tweets can be read in chronological order at this at this link.

Observing protests now which started by setting up road blocks. People on rooftops have prepared sticks and stones to greet police when they raid. This lady in front of her house:

Sanabis_20-4-2013

Hearing sound bombs. The attack has started. Protestors are moving forward. Trying to break out their cages (villages).

Protestors have put nails on the ground as part of Arab hospitality to greet police. Police have raided on foot not by car as too many road blocks. Those nails are good deterrents!

Much stone throwing and various. Birdshot being used. Police are raiding house next door now:

Sanabis_20-4-2013_2Police are in the same building. Hearing shooting. It’s very tragic seeing families terrorised like this. Mother is putting her kids to bed. Mother is telling me she always does this so they don’t panic. Photo of kids in bed:

Sanabis_20-4-2013_3

Police have passed but helicopter monitoring above. Last year I was arrested because of helicopter surveillance.

Damn those sounds bombs. They give one hell of a fright. Sanabis people young/old putting up a fight. Man just threw a saucepan.

They’ve arrested a boy. All the women heading

Help

Shit

Police attacking us

Police have locked us up in a room. Women got beaten up. Used CS Spray. Can hear screams upstairs. Shooting from upstairs. They raided the house cos they saw someone filming upstairs. Police still all over the building. We are stuck in a room & getting insulted. It’s chaos. Police have arrested one boy and tear gassed the house. Women sprayed faces. One injured man.

We have a serious injury but stuck in house. Can’t go to hospital. I don’t have first aid training. Guy can’t move. Can’t post picture. Guy fell from the roof. Feeling pain across body and can’t move. Can’t get access to doctors. Don’t know if anything is broken. What to do?!

[30 minutes later]

We got first aid through Skype. Still stuck. This is the scene outside. Police still shooting.Too dangerous to leave. Meanwhile this adorable kid says he doesn’t want to live in this house any more. We’re hearing of birdshot injuries.

A scene of carnage in Sanabis now. Going to see other injured people hit by tear gas canisters and shotgun pellets:

Sanabis_20-4-2013_4Next door this 13 year old was hit directly by a “C4” tear gas canister in an awkward part of the body:

Sanabis_20-4-2013_5Now going around examining the wreckage. Here are the weapons used today:

Sanabis_20-4-2013_TeargasThe tear gas photographed here comes from two different companies. US firm NonLethal Technologies is the manufacturer of the tear gas in the left hand picture, which is the company that manufacturers the cannister labelled “MP-3-CS” in the right hand picture. The other cannister, with red markings, is manufactured by Rheinmetall Denel Munition, a company located in South African, but controlled from Germany.

Protesters marching to site of Pearl Square reportedly teargassed

Two pictures, taken within the last hour, reportedly show protesters attempting to march to the former site of Pearl Roundabout (map) and then subsequently being attacked by tear gas. This post will be updated as more details come in.

Pearl Roundabout (aka Pearl Square) was occupied by pro-democracy demonstrators in February and March 2011 until government forces violently removed the people and demolished the monument. Now referred to by the opposition as Martyrs’s Square, it is under tight military control. Yesterday, the February 14th Youth Coalition called for a march to the site, beginning at 3pm local time. Maryam AlKhawaja, President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, tweeted earlier: “According to people on the ground, huge security presence in villages close to what was Pearl Square in an attempt to prevent march.”

PearlSquare_March_20-4-2013

PearlSquare_March_Teargas_20-4-2013(Pictures via @ahmedali_)

Video roundup

A selection of amateur footage shot over the past 24 hours. The opposition Feb 14 Media site has additional photographs and videos.

Al Qadem – A family try and resist their son’s arrest. Police ultimately respond with tear gas (via @alaashehabi):

Sitra – Anti-F1 protesters on Friday evening say: “Your race is a crime” and “Your race will fail“. (via @MARYAMALKHAWAJA)

Footage of similar anti-F1 protests from Al Dair, Markuban and the capital Manama, where protesters also chanted: “Let your palaces hear, your prisons we do not fear.”

Sitra – Street battles Thursday night (via @alaashehabi)

Sitra – Birdshot bellets, fired by security forces, being removed from a man’s leg (via @alaashehabi)

Sitra – A young man sets fire to a car on the street on Thursday in broad daylight as a protest against the F1 race. VIDEO.

Barbar – Young men spray the English slogan “No F1 – Don’t race on our blood” on a wall.

Buri – Young men block the road on the main highway by Buri with burning tyres, then proceed to burn all the F1 chequered flags flying from posts along the road.

February 14th Coalition call for march to Pearl Square site on Saturday

Maryam AlKhawaja, Acting President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, reports:

One protest video from Wadyan in Sitra tonight shows dozens of youths marching in “preparation and anticipation” for Saturdays march to what is now called Martyrs Square.

The February 14th Youth Coalition take their name from the date when the popular pro-democracy uprising began. Pearl Square (actually Pearl Roundabout, but renamed to echo Egypt’s Tahrir Square) was a central site for the protesters. In a recent article on the symbolic significance of Pearl Square, Amal Khalaf described the events:

On 14th February 2011 tens of thousands of people joined in a demonstration resulting in the Pearl Roundabout’s occupation. As traffic stood still, the international media came to witness the Gulf’s answer to the ‘Arab Spring’ and overnight, the government had lost control of it’s carefully constructed image of a ‘Business Friendly’ Bahrain, as news networks broadcast images of the Pearl Roundabout surrounded by protestors demanding reforms. A circle was named a square. The naming of the roundabout as Pearl Square or Midan al Lulu in the international media, though initially seen by many Bahrainis as a laughable and ignorant mistake, soon became appropriated by some protestors, who saw it as an underlining of the roundabout’s new figuration as a ‘civic square’ or midan.

The unprecedented occupation of the ‘square’ became front-page news internationally as Manama was brought to a halt. Within days, there were attempts by the state to quell the growing protests with tear gas and other threats of force culminating in a violent crackdown on the roundabout at 3am on 17th February 2011. Over four days, there were hundreds of injuries and seven civilian deaths. This harsh response surprised and radicalised many who had witnessed the events either first hand, in the international media, or through hundreds ofshaky, panicked mobile phone videos posted on YouTube. Yet despite this heavy-handed repression, many defiantly returned to the roundabout, now a site of trauma and renamed Martyr’s Square or Midan Al Shuhada by some.

After a month of protests, martial law was declared. The Bahrain-Saudi causeway rumbled with the sounds of hundreds of tanks of the Dr’a Al Jazeera or Peninsula Shield.  For the last time, the roundabout was cleared by force, main roads leading up to the roundabout were sealed off and villages were kettled by armoured vehicles. Days later, in a spectacularly reactionary move, Bahrain’s State TV replayed scenes that would within minutes circulate the digital mediasphere. As the country watched from their phones/homes/computer screens, the Pearl Monument exploded into a pile of bones over the ruins of an occupied ‘square’.

Read full article

Opposition societies “Protest for Democracy”

At 4pm local time, an authorised protest organised by opposition societies began on Budaiya Highway. The societies have held daily mass protests for democracy since last Friday. The BBC reported that “tens of thousands of anti-government protesters” demonstrated today. Footage of the march:

The largest opposition society Al Wefaq tweeted the following images of today’s march:

19-4-2013_Societies_March_3

19-4-2013_Societies_March_4

A family prepare for the march:

19-4-2013_Societies_March_5

A protester dressed as a detained medic, holds up a rose and shows that he is “sumood” (steadfast), despite being in handcuffs:

19-4-2013_Societies_March_6

Meanwhile, just as the march was taking place, masked police arrived in Sanad, a village near to the Bahrain International Circuit:

19-4-2013_Sanad_Police