A group of activists called on Facebook for peaceful demonstrations at 3pm on the 14th February outside the Bahraini capital Manama. The turnout was overwhelming as thousands protested peacefully in their villages. The demands included the dismissal of the government, the drafting of a new constitution by an elected assembly, the release of political prisoners and the investigation of human rights abuses.
Early on, the protests were cracked down ruthlessly when the anti-riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowds. In the following five days, the protests spread to Pearl Square and other areas of Manama and the Bahraini security forces committed a number of grave human rights abuses:
-Extrajudicial (summary) killings ofseven peaceful protesters through a variety of means, including live rounds. Some protesters were shot by live bullets in their heads, thereby confirming concerns that security forces were shooting to kill rather than to scare demonstrators. The anti-riot police
-Use of weapons prohibited under international and Bahraini law such as pelleted ammunition and rubber bullets that were shot from short distance causing death or serious wounds to target.
- Shooting without notice, leaving no time for the crowds to disperse. In some cases, such as in Sanabis on 14 February, the protesters were assured by police officers that they would not be attacked if they confined themselves to a certain area. Regardless, police officers attacked them. The same happened in the Pearl Square, where sleeping protesters and families were attacked at 3am in the morning.
-Attacking funeral processions for killed demonstrator Ali Mushaim, killing yet another demonstrator on the morning of 15th February just outside the premises of the Salmaniyya hospital in Sanabis. Fadil al-Matruk was shot at with pellet bullets from a very short range, which killed him.
-Attacks on medical staff trying to help the injured protestors on the morning of 17th February after the attacks on protesters. The first-aid tents set up by protesters in the square were also attacked, despite being clearly designed as such.
-Barring ambulances from reaching injured and killed protesters in Pearl Square, thereby further increasing the death toll
-Attacking of journalists covering the protests and confiscating their cameras
-Barring journalists from entering the country, detaining them for 15 hours at the airport
-Slowing and partly blocking Internet access in the whole country and jamming mobile phone access in demonstration areas
Bahrain Human Rights Society