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

Changing Under Pressure, IS ‘Potent’ as Ever

US intel officials describe Ramadi's fall as concerning, but say it isn't emblematic of larger effort to degrade IS capabilities More

Nigeria Fuel Shortage Shows Fragility of Africa’s Oil Giant

Although it is the largest oil producer in Africa, country has nearly ran out of fuel it needs to power its generators, cars and airplanes over the past week More

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer 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.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs