News / Middle East

Bahrainis Complain of Government Tear Gas Attacks on Neighborhoods

Riot police fire tear gas toward anti-government demonstrators in Musalla, Bahrain, on the edge of the capital of Manama, February 16, 2012.
Riot police fire tear gas toward anti-government demonstrators in Musalla, Bahrain, on the edge of the capital of Manama, February 16, 2012.

A controversial former U.S. police chief hired as an adviser to reform Bahrain's security forces has defended the use of tear gas in residential neighborhoods to control mounting unrest surrounding the first anniversary of the country's pro-democracy uprising.

Raids on Shi'ite villages have intensified in recent days, with residents complaining of tear gas attacks on a nightly basis.   Tear gas has been blamed for several recent deaths.

Shi'ite Muslims make up the majority of Bahrain's opposition and say they receive ill treatment from the nation's Sunni rulers. They have been calling on the government to stop tear gas strikes in their neighborhoods.

But John Timoney, a former police chief of Philadelphia and Miami now advising Bahraini authorities on security tactics, says a sharp rise in violent attacks by activists is forcing officers to respond.

"Police have been using tear gas to create distance between them and gangs of rioters that have been on a very steady basis, day after day, assaulting police officers with Molotov cocktails and also with bricks, nails and other things," he noted.

According to the government, activists injured more than 40 officers in the run-up to the February 14 pro-democracy anniversary. Several were hospitalized. Timoney says police are trying to respond with non-lethal means.

"While tear gas unfortunately does impact on people who are not involved, at the end of the day, it's a more desirable weapon than, for example, using live rounds to defend yourself," he added.

Timoney, who gained a reputation for cracking down on protests in the U.S., also dismissed claims by activists that authorities in the Persian Gulf Kingdom had begun using toxic gases on citizens.

"We have thousands of police officers out there on a daily basis. They are smelling and touching that gas themselves. We've had nobody come in with poison or respiratory problems," Timoney noted.

Bahrain's mainly Shi'ite protesters took to the streets a year ago to demand more rights and a more representative government

However, their calls were silenced a month later after troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to the country and a three-month state of emergency was imposed.

Timoney, along with former assistant commissioner of Britain's Metropolitan Police John Yates, were hired to help implement some recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) report, released last November, that pertain to the nation's security forces. The report said Bahraini authorities had used excessive force and torture during the initial months of the pro-democracy unrest last year.

Jamal Fakhro, a senior member of Bahrain's parliament, says the two international police advisers are helping with security reform.

"They are changing a lot in the culture of the Ministry of Interior [and] with the police," said Fakhro.  "They are bringing in the best practices and they are laying down responsibilities."

But others, like Radhi Mohsen al-Mosawi, deputy secretary general for political affairs at the opposition party Wa'ad, say the appointment of Western officials is a public relations stunt.

Al-Mosawi says recent YouTube video showing officers beating civilians and throwing burning objects onto houses prove that officers continue to carry out illegal practices.

He says that according to rights groups, more than 30 people have been killed since the BICI inquiry report was issued.

"These experts should understand that Bahraini people are not crazy to believe what they say," said al-Mosawi.

Al-Mosawi says Bahrain's leaders should put more focus on other recommendations of the independent inquiry, such as creating the right conditions for a national dialogue.

"Our problem is politics and should be between Bahrainis. And I don't think these experts will solve the problem," added al-Mosawi.  

Opposition groups in Bahrain pulled out of official talks with the government last year after saying they received "unfair representation" in them.

You May Like

Photogallery Oxfam: Ebola Could Be 'Disaster of Our Generation'

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, says the Caribbean island nation will 'gladly cooperate' with the US in the fight against Ebola in West Africa More

Multimedia Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

Refugees receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed More

India’s Ruling Nationalist Party Makes Gains in Regional Elections

Bharatiya Janata Party’s huge margin over its rivals puts it on course to form governments in the northern Haryana and western Maharashtra states More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid