Bahraini protester’s death sparks riot

A Bahraini protester found dead on a rooftop after clashes with police during the Formula One Grand Prix at the weekend was apparently killed by birdshot rounds and his body bore several bruises, his brother said on Monday.

Salah Abbas Habib (36) was buried on Monday after a funeral attended by about 15 000 people, a Reuters witness said.

After the ceremony, hundreds of protesters threw petrol bombs and stones at a police station in the district of al-Bilad al-Qadeem in the capital Manama. Police fired tear gas and sound grenades.

His brother said a coroner’s report concluded that Habib died of birdshot wounds to the chest and abdomen.

“We just got the body back. He had birdshot wounds in his chest and abdomen,” Hussein Abbas Habib said by telephone from Manama, adding that the body also had bad bruises on the hands, back and legs.


Ruled by the Al Khalifa family, Bahrain has been in turmoil since mainly Shi’ite pro-democracy protests that erupted last year, which were put down in March 2011 with the help of troops from fellow Sunni-led Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia.

Majority Shi’ites complain they have long been marginalised.

Investigating Habib’s death
Bahrain’s interior ministry has already said it is launching an investigation into Habib’s death.

The dead man took part in overnight protests on Friday but had to flee after riot police arrived to disperse demonstrators and came after him, his brother said.

He hid on a roof, he added, citing witnesses. He was found dead soon after that.

Mohammed al-Maskati of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights told Reuters that witnesses said Habib had been hit while running away from police.

The leader of the main opposition party warned on Monday that the conflict in Bahrain would grow more violent if the government did not undertake political reform.

“We want to sit down and talk to them, but they are refusing to enter a dialogue with us. They put obstacles and diversions to present a picture of reforms that actually only reconfirm and reinstate the dictatorship,” Sheikh Ali Salman said.

“We have reached an impasse. This government is not serious about having a real dialogue, to listen to the demands of the Bahraini people and implement those demands which cannot be ignored,” he said.

Hearing delayed
In a separate development, Amnesty International on Monday criticised a Bahraini appeals court for delaying until April 30 a hearing for a group of protest leaders sentenced over last year’s uprising, including one who has been on a hunger strike for more than two months.

“The Bahrain authorities’ delaying tactics are toying with the life of Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who is on death’s doorstep as he enters his 75th day on hunger strike,” Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, an Amnesty regional deputy director, said in a statement.

Sponsors who ploughed money into Formula One have been left squirming after the motor sport’s organisers ignored opposition calls to cancel the race.

But Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone said “there is no such thing as bad publicity”, putting a positive spin on the race, which drew widespread condemnation from abroad and became a focus for anti-government protests in the small island kingdom.

Britain’s Channel 4 said on its website on Monday that its three-man news team had been deported after being detained on Sunday.

While motor sports journalists were invited to cover the race, reporters from Reuters and some other news organisations who usually write about Middle East politics were denied visas. Channel 4 said its team had been working without accreditation.

“So when we were caught filming a planned demonstration in one of the Shia villages, they have not been particularly pleasant,” correspondent Jonathan Miller said in a posting on the website. — Reuters

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Uncertainty troubles South Africans stuck in Middle East

With no representation on the island in the Persian Gulf, South Africans stranded in...

Esports offer a brave new world

With stadiums shut, clubs and leagues are turning to the video games to stay relevant

Saudi permanently closes only land border with Qatar

The gate was first closed two weeks after Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain cut diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar on June 5

Seismic shifts in the Gulf in Qatar stand-off

The Arab Spring marked the most significant turning point for the GCC States in their tolerance of Qatar’s defiance.

Vettel wins with little drama in Bahrain

F1 champion Sebastian Vettel has won the Bahrain Grand Prix for the second year in a row to extend his overall lead to 10 points after four races.

Bahrain compensates families of slain protesters

Bahrain has paid out $2.6-million in compensation to the families of 17 people killed in last year's bloody crackdown on Shi'ite-led protests.
Advertising

The PPE scandal that the Treasury hasn’t touched

Many government officials have been talking tough about dealing with rampant corruption in PPE procurement but the majority won't even release names of who has benefited from the R10-billion spend

ANC still at odds over how to tackle leaders facing...

The ANC’s top six has been mandated to work closely with its integrity committee to tackle claims of corruption against senior party members
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday