Bahrain's children caught up in crackdown on protests
In Bahrain the anti-government protests that have spread following the Arab Spring continue to be met with violence, aggression, military trials and the torture and ill-treatment of detainees.Amnesty has reported on the attacks on protestors and the trials of Bahranidoctors and other health workers. Children in Bahrain have also not escaped the brutal crackdown on protest.
On 6th October 2011, 16-year-old Ahmed al-Jaber al-Qatan was participating in an anti-government protest in the village of Abu Saeiba, near the capital Manama,when police used shotguns and sound bombs to disperse the crowd. Ahmed was hit by shotgun pellets and later died at the International hospital. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights has reported that he is the fourth child killed since 14th February.
On 31st August, 14-year-old Ali Jawad Ahmad al-Shaikh was killed during a peaceful demonstration in Bahrain’s central town of Sitra. A local human rights group has claimed that his death was caused by a head injury that he suffered after being hit by a tear gas canister thrown by riot police.
Children havealso been arrested and are at risk of becoming prisoners of conscience if they are convicted. Seven girls were arrested with 38 women at a city shopping centre in Manama in September. They were preparing to take part in a protest march that was heading for the GCC Roundabout (formerly Pearl Roundabout), which has been a focus for many of the protests.
Following their arrest, without arrest warrants, the women and girls were interrogated without lawyers present and some also allege that they were tortured or otherwise ill-treated during the interrogation. Sixteen women and four of the girls were charged and are now being tried for charges including ‘illegal gathering’ and ‘incitement to hatred of the regime’. They have only been allowed to meet their lawyers in court and requests from the lawyers to visit them in prison have received no answer.
Amnesty International is not aware of any evidence that the girls and women who have been charged used or advocated violence. They may all be prisoners ofconscience if they are convicted solely on the basis of the legitimate exerciseof their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.
Check the CHRN webpages at: www.amnesty.org.uk/chrn for an action in support of the women and girls.
Currently,children in Bahrain remain at risk of violence, arrest and even death whilstthe brutal crackdown on protest continues. Bahrain’s authorities must bring anend to the violence and ill-treatment of protestors and ensure that the deathsof Ahmed al-Jaber al-Qatan and Ali Jawad Ahmad al-Shaikh are properlyinvestigated and that the rights of children throughout the country are protected.
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