Sunday, January 22, 2012

Bahrain mourners attacked by riot police

A woman stops to help another who tripped running from tear gas fired by riot police in Muharraq, Bahrain at the funeral of Yousif Mowali (Jan. 21). Mr. Mowali was a 24-year old activist in the democratic movement who went missing after being seen at the public prosecutor’s office. After several days, police told his family & human rights activists searching for him that Mr. Mowali had committed suicide by drowning. However photographic evidence showed burns & bruises consistent with torture. (The Bahraini regime has detained over 3,000 activists & are accused of systematic torture.) Authorities ordered the family to hold a private funeral with no procession but thousands gathered for the funeral cortege. Right-wing thugs with rocks and riot cops firing tear gas attacked the mourners at the cemetery to disperse them. Police mocked credulity by claiming they were trying to keep thugs & mourners apart but the Interior Minister Twittered another version: "Police warned mourners several times the procession was unauthorized before using legal procedures to disperse the crowd and protect civil peace." Media outside Bahrain have been reporting these protests as religious in character--as Shi’ite protestors against Sunni regime--rather than as a democratic revolution. Excessive use of tear gas is one of the main weapons of the regime against daily protests; many have developed respiratory problems & some have died from inhalation. (It’s probably not irrelevant that the US & Saudi Arabia see the Bahraini regime as a key ally against Iran, just across the Gulf waters.) (Photo by Hasan Jamali)

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