Protesters aren't the only ones throwing Molotov cocktails – now the police are
Homemade firebombs, also known as Molotov cocktails, are usually the reserve of those who don't have access to standard weapons. Lately, however, Bahraini police, better known for their liberal use of tear gas against protesters, have also taken to throwing Molotov cocktails.
In the past few months, numerous amateur videos showing police hurling Molotov cocktails at anti-government protesters have surfaced online. The latest of these videos, however, has gone viral. It shows a police officer throwing multiple tear gas canisters, then casually switching to Molotov cocktails. Bahrain's Interior Ministry, which had recently promised to reform its controversial policing practices, announced Sunday via Twitter that it would launch an investigation into the incident.
The police officer on the left throws a Molotov cocktail at 1 minute 35 into the video.
Bahraini human rights activists are now eagerly waiting to see whether this investigation will lead to any charges against the policeman in the video. Last week, 28 civilians were charged with attempted murder for throwing Molotov cocktails at policemen.
Bahrain has been the scene of violent clashes between police and anti-government protesters for just over a year now. The more violent protesters regularly set up roadblocks, throw stones, and hurl Molotov cocktails, too.
The Shiite-led opposition is calling for constitutional changes that would limit the power of the ruling Sunni royalty, which currently appoints all major posts in the country’s government.
"There is no sense in the security forces using Molotov cocktails … They already have tear gas and rubber bullets – and are supposed to abide by the law"
Mohammed Al-Maskati is president of the human rights group BYSHR.
People have been sending us video evidence of security forces using Molotov cocktails for five or six months now. We frequently hear from people who have witnessed this, too, but did not record the incidents. There is no sense in the security forces doing this. They are not gangs of hooligans – they are supposed to abide by the law. They already have tear gas and rubber bullets at their disposal. But today, they have developed a sense of impunity, and feel they can use whatever weapons they want to use without repercussions.
I have witnessed security forces using Molotov cocktails against protesters myself. I went to a demonstration against the government a few days ago. It quickly turned into clashes with the security forces, so I took refuge in a friend's house. I watched as the fighting raged on for hours. During this time, I saw both sides throw Molotov cocktails. It was unclear whether the security forces had made their own or whether they had just confiscated some from some of the protesters, and in their rage, decided to use these Molotov cocktails against them.
Traditionally, the Interior Ministry keep the names of policemen under investigation secret. So we fear we will never know whether any investigation really takes place, and if so, whether the policeman in the video receives punishment. I believe their announcement is simply propaganda, and that nothing will happen.
Another policeman caught on camera throwing a Molotov cocktail. Video filmed in Ma'ameer on March 16.
In this video, filmed on February 12 in Tubli, protesters throw Molotov cocktails at policemen. One of the policeman grabs one off the ground and throws it back at the protesters at 1 minute 8 seconds.