16-Year-Old Dies in Clash with Bahraini Police
Sixteen-year-old protester Husam al-Haddad died Friday night of injuries sustained after the boy was beaten by Bahraini riot police. According to witness accounts, Haddad was shot with bird-shot pellets at close range before being kicked repeatedly by a man in civilian clothes. Graphic video and pictures of the boy’s body circulated online showing a body badly riddled with bullets and severely bruised. The death brings the number of people killed since the protest movement began last year to at least 50 in a country of just over a million people.
The interior ministry released a statement calling Haddad a “terrorist” and saying that the teenager had attacked police with Molotov cocktails. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights blasted the account, and called on the international community to put a stop to “the extra-judicial killing of unarmed civilians.” Opposition party al-Wefaq echoed the call, adding, “After the king declared the acceptance of BICI and promised to reform, Husam represents the seventh case of death after shooting by security forces from short distance….[and] the fourth torture case which needs an independent investigation to know the real cause of death.”
In addition, Kenneth Katzman writes on the kingdom’s security sector reform efforts in the wake of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry recommendations. Katzman finds that despite implemented reforms, abuses by security forces have continued, which “suggests that the BICI report… failed to fundamentally alter the government’s approach to dealing with protesters and prominent dissidents.” Only a political settlement between the government and the opposition, Katzman believes, will bring fundamental reform, but he concedes the prospects for such an agreement remain elusive.
Also Human Rights Watch called for the immediate release of rights leader Nabeel Rajab after he was sentenced to three years in prison earlier this week for participating in “illegal gatherings.” Deputy Middle East director for the organization Joe Stork said the verdict “shows that Bahrain’s rulers are committed to a policy of comprehensive repression.”