Assault on Protesters, Migrants Workers Continues in Bahrain

March 23, 2011

Bahraini anti-government look at spent gas canisters, stun grenades, rubber bullets all piled up in Pearl Square, the epicentre of the anti government movement, in Manama on March 14, 2011 (JAMES LAWLER DUGGAN/AFP/Getty Images)


As protests in Bahrain continue, we’re seeing increased brutality against protesters. Amnesty International has documented several cases of police brutality in which protesters were fired upon or beaten up and medical personnel prevented from providing aid.

A new Amnesty International report Bahrain: bloodied but unbowed: Unwarranted state violence against Bahraini protestors documents the deaths of seven protesters and beatings of hundreds of others.

Recent reports have also emerged of brutal attacks on Asian migrant workers wrongly believed to be members of security forces. According to reports from the Bahraini Human Rights Watch Society and Migrant Workers Protection Society more than forty workers have been attacked by protesters.  The newspaper Gulf News reported the deaths of four migrant workers since the protests began on February 14, 2011.

The increase in violence reveals how sectarian tensions in Bahrain are being exploited by the ruling family to refuse rights to both migrant workers and protesters.  The use of migrant workers from Sunni countries to brutalize protesters is designed to deflect attention away from real political grievances by the largely Shia protesters.  It also takes attention away from the dismal condition of most Bahraini migrant workers that work long hours and have few or no rights to organize or demand fair employment or housing practices.

Bahraini authorities are pitting one group of victims against another while the real culprits remain untouched and continue to wield power.

Amnesty International has been reporting on the mistreatment of protesters since demonstrations began over a month ago. However, despite worldwide criticism, Bahraini authorities seem unwilling to back down on their violent crackdown on those peacefully demanding their political rights.

In late February, the Amnesty International team in Bahrain identified some of the ammunition being used on protesters at the Pearl Roundabout.  These included U.S. made tear gas canisters and 37 mm rubber baton, French made tear gas grenades and rubber dispersion grenades that fragment into eighteen pieces and make a loud sound.   Amnesty International has called on all Governments involved to halt arms shipments to Bahrain.   Join the call to halt arms sales and shipments to Bahrain by taking action.