Effects of Riots on Human Rights
The outbreak of riots in several Bahraini villages in November
2009, signalled the beginning of a crisis created by extremist movements,
such as the Freemen of Bahrain Movement, Haq Movement and the Bahrain
Centre for Human Rights. These extremists seem unable to live in
a peaceful and tolerant atmosphere and can only thrive if the security
situation is tense as this provides an ideal backdrop for political
The extremists’ strategy relies on creating strife in the country
which begins with the issuing of a large number of inciting statements,
speeches and handouts encouraging children and youths to confront
the security forces, set ablaze rubbish bins and tyres and vandalize
public properties such as electricity generators. This leads to
violent confrontations with the riot police coupled with the use
of tear gas and attacking police cars with fire bombs. We have witnessed
this scenario for years and as soon as the security situation calms,
it starts up again in the same way.
In November 2009, a policeman was seriously injured due to the
use of fire bombs, and five youths have been accused of attempting
to kill a security officer. On the other hand, a number of boys,
teenagers and children were injured due the use of the ‘shozin’
weapon by the security forces. As usual, extremists were quick to
issue statements which suggest that they are just human rights defenders.
They also spread rumours in the foreign media that the detainees
are merely a group of boys arrested during a ‘peaceful’ protest
to demand democracy and respect for human rights, and they were
victims of the state’s excessive use of force.
As we have witnessed in the past, the human rights cause has
been used as a cover for calls to violence, confrontation and extremism
where detainees suddenly become abused ‘human rights activists’.
Human rights are in fact the real victim of the violence, which
is likely to continue at least until mid December! This coincides
with extremists’ celebration of Martyrs’ Eid just one day before
the National Day: the peak time for rioting. Human rights have repeatedly
been violated by a group that waves the flag of human rights.
Freedom of expression is also a victim of violence. Although
the freedom to assemble and protest is granted in Bahrain, advocates
of violence are restricting it by engaging in street violence and
breaching the law. In addition, residents of villages are suffering
from the effects of smoke inside their houses and cannot enter or
leave their areas freely. These residents are also victims of violence.
These incidents came after a period of calm, and immediately
after the Carzcan detainees were acquitted. However, as advocates
of violence cannot live in an open, free and tolerant climate, they
feel they must disturb it and continue with their violent activity.
When people are killed, the Government and security forces are usually
to blame, and when some are arrested, tens of statements are issued
against the state’s alleged violation of human rights and its fabrication
of accusations against them. If the Government pardons these rioters,
extremists claim to have defeated the Government, and when one attempts
to mediate in order to obtain a royal pardon for them, the response
is that they want to be kept in prison and that it is none of our
business, whilst at the same time they demand interference of Arab
and international organisations and the issuing of condemnation
Because the scene of violence and rioting has become frequent
in Bahrain, we would like to convey three messages to three groups
Firstly, to Arab and international human rights organizations:
it is necessary to initially condemn all acts of violence and understand
their background and political dimensions. Extremists have nothing
to do with defending human rights, and their acts cannot be justified
politically. This is especially true when a political process is
currently in place and all political parties are prepearing for
the next parliamentary elections. Some foreign organizations have
previously issued statements based on wrong or inaccurate information.
These organizations are required to reassess the situation, visit
Bahrain and closely examine the situation and meet with all civil
and political societies.
Secondly, to local civil society organizations as well as political
societies: remaining silent and not publicly condemning violence
encourages advocates of violence to continue their actions and does
not serve the interests of any political societies. These societies
prefer not to be involved hoping that the Government will do what
is required without the need for them to interfere. On the other
hand, other societies feel helpless because they are unable to convince
advocates of violence to stop. However, it is very important at
present time that political societies issue a statement directed
to the public, which openly condemns violence. This silence on the
part of political parties prevents people from taking action against
vandalism and destruction because they are waiting for direction
from politically and religiously active parties.
Thirdly, to the Government itself: we call on the Government
not to use excessive force, live ammunition or shozin weapon when
confronting protestors. In addition, the Government should deal
with riots and those responsible for them in accordance with the
law and those involved in violence and riots should be guaranteed
a fair and public trial, and should not be granted amnesty, which
might encourage others to continue rioting.