Bahraini residents regularly send us videos showing the police making liberal use of tear gas. This latest video, however, is particularly striking.
The video below shows three police officers patrolling what appears to be a calm street. One of them loads his tear gas gun, aims it through an open window, and shoots into the house. A few minutes later, thick white smoke pours through the window.
According to the video’s caption on YouTube, it was filmed in the city of A’ali, in the north of the island, on May 27. One of our Observers who lives there told us that this video was indeed filmed in A’ali’s old town centre. While it is impossible to verify the date, a large protest was held on May 27 in solidarity with imprisoned Shiite activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaji, and was reportedly broken up by Bahraini security forces. Activists say that they often use large amounts of tear gas to dissuade residents from letting protesters hide in their homes.
In an article we published in January 2012, Anmar (not his real name), an Observer from the northern city of Mugaba, explained that “because there is international pressure on Bahrain, the authorities don’t want to use live bullets anymore. Instead, they spray tear gas all over the place to punish the population for demanding their rights and keep people indoors.” Amnesty International, at the time, had already counted a dozen deaths caused by “excessive use of tear gas by the security forces.” Since then, opposition activists have reported at least two more such deaths.
About three-quarters of Bahrain’s population is Shiite. However, it is ruled by a Sunni monarchy. Since February 2011, Shiites who feel they are being discriminated against have protested in the streets on a regular basis, calling for democratic reforms. During these protests, some people set up roadblocks, and at times burn vehicles and throw Molotov cocktails at the police, who generally respond with force. The police have been filmed throwing Molotov cocktails as well.