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.

Lord Avebury calls for F1 boycott

Lord Avebury, Vice-Chair of the Parliamentary Human Rights Group, writes for Liberal Democrat Voice:

Bernie Ecclestone is an appropriate person to be the public face of Formula 1, a ‘sport’ which is fast becoming known as the event of choice for autocrats who wish to launder their international reputation, as evidenced by the appearance of races in Bahrain and Dubai in recent years.

Ecclestone famously praised Thatcher, Hitler and Saddam a few years ago, saying that he preferred strong leaders, that Hitler was a man who was ‘able to get things done’, and yet paradoxically, that politics ‘is not for me’.

(…)

If the race does go ahead this year, it will be the duty of the media to use it as the introduction to a closer scrutiny of Bahrain’s abysmal record on human rights, democracy and the rule of law. They should also look at Britain’s shameful friendship with this former colony of ours. We supplied them with their chief torturer Ian Henderson in the 1990s, and today they are regular buddies with the Queen and the Prime Minister. This doesn’t stack up with our claim to promote the freedoms we enjoy ourselves across the globe.

This is all a matter of indifference to Ecclestone. He reportedly told the Bahraini activist Alaa Shehabi last year that he wouldn’t mind if the race was cancelled, because he had already cashed the check from the Bahraini government. His priority is profit and he evinces no sign of concern about the suffering of those who have to pay the price for it.

Let’s hope that Bahrain will follow in the steps of South Africa, where the Formula 1 races were cancelled in 1985 amid rising international awareness of the moral bankruptcy of the Apartheid regime. Bahrain’s regime is equally discriminatory and corrupt, and deserves the same fate.