Bahrain Condemned for “Unprecedented” Tear Gas Use
The group Physicians for Human Rights slammed the Bahraini government for excessive tear gas use in its latest report released this week. According to their investigation, the group uncovered “an alarming increase in miscarriages, respiratory ailments and other maladies” from “abnormally prolonged” tear gas exposure, as well as serious wounds to the skull and limbs from tear gas canisters shot at close range. Bystanders in addition to protesters have suffered these health effects, notably when gas canisters have been fired into cars or homes, resulting in at least two deaths from inhalation in an enclosed space.
Meanwhile, Justin Elliott investigates ties between Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN) and Bahrain lobbyists. The congressman visited the Gulf kingdom in April at a cost of $20,966, paid for by the non-profit group the Bahrain American Council. Since the council does not officially employ lobbyists, the trip abides by congressional rules. However, the Bahrain American Council was created by and shares an office with lobbying firm Policy Impact which advocates on behalf of the Bahrain government.
Additionally, Cole Bockenfeld argues that the Bahraini government’s effective ban on protests is pushing would-be moderates to extremes, giving authorities the excuse that they want to crack down on the protest movement. Bockenfeld also calls on the U.S. to end its silence on this development by explicitly conveying that limits on the right to peacefully assemble “represent a red line in the bilateral relationship.”
However, Bahrain’s Ambassador to the U.S. Houda Ezra Nonoo counters critics ahead of a hearing Thursday on the implementation of Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry recommendations. Nonoo writes that the kingdom has made “tangible, measurable, and verifiable progress in enacting reform” which have been undertaken in 18 of the commission’s 26 recommendations, with progress underway on another 7. The ambassador also acknowledges mistakes made, particularly those that led to protester deaths, but argues that the truth has been distorted in critics’ accusations.
Also, the Bahrain Chief of Public Security, Major General Tariq al-Hassan, called for a full investigation into allegations of police misconduct and theft during recent home searches. The chief said all recent raids, even those conducted late at night, have complied with the law, but that the Ministry of the Interior will launch an investigation into claims by opposition groups of abuses and the theft of large amounts of money.