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Security personnel incite violence against journalists, opposition figures

(BCHR/IFEX) - 18 March 2011 - The BCHR strongly condemns the recently reported attack with a Molotov cocktail on the house of journalist and commentator Lamees Dhaif, who has recently been outspoken in her opposition to government policies.

The BCHR notes that shocking evidence has surfaced showing that members of security forces are encouraging the targeting of opposition figures. The BCHR has seen broadcast messages issued by security personnel listing the telephone numbers of Ms Dhaif, along with former Health Minister Dr Nizar Al Baharna, former MP Jalal Fairouz, the Iranian ambassador to Bahrain, and others, urging contacts to harass the individuals.

Broadcasts also include incitement to sectarian hatred, describing the individuals as 'children of muta'a' (temporary marriages, a practice accepted within Shia Islam). Inflammatory broadcasts also claim that the 'Baharna' (Shia Bahraini) are gathering in Hamad Town to declare 'jihad' (religious war) on Sunni Bahrainis, and urges them to move out of neighborhoods inhabited by Shia Bahrainis.

Footage circulating on the Internet shows riot police armed and wearing protective clothing kicking an unarmed civilian who is sprawled on the road in a residential area, captioned as being in Sitra, where the army incursion took place on Tuesday ( ). Police have also been captured on camera smashing cars ( ). In one image broadcast by security personnel, a combat boot hovers over the Pearl roundabout where the protest camp was established, with the text "disperse people, we will trample on you".

"The current civil violence in Bahrain is not only caused by the sudden disappearance of police from ordinary duty, which has allowed for the rise of mob rule and armed thugs policing the streets, but it is clearly also caused by certain units of the police itself, " BCHR president Nabeel Rajab said.

The BCHR calls for:

- An immediate end to the continued excessive use of violence and rogue activities by security personnel in Bahrain

- A top down reform of the Interior Ministry, notorious for its culture of brutality and corruption

- Independent and transparent investigations into all acts of violence, including crimes committed by members of the security forces

The BCHR notes that the dangerous effect of the rogue actions of security personnel, many of whom are Asian, has lead to targeted attacks on ordinary Asian civilian residents in Bahrain in recent days.

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