Bahrain authorities must investigate shooting of protester

Amnesty International has urged the Bahraini authorities to conduct an independent investigation into the shooting of an anti-government protester in disputed circumstances on Monday. Hassan ‘Ali, 20, is in hospital recovering from shotgun wounds he sustained when a member of Bahrain’s anti-riot police fired a shotgun at him in Karzakan, a predominantly Shi’a village on Bahrain’s west coast. He is reported to have been struck by 12 shotgun pellets, three of which struck him on the head. According to a senior Bahraini police officer, Hassan ‘Ali was shot when he was among a group of masked youths who had  thrown Molotov cocktails at anti-riot police stationed in the village. However, according to a leading human rights activist, ‘Abdallah al-Derazi of the Bahrain Human Rights Society, Hassan ‘Ali says he was not involved in the violence by youths and was shot while he was outside his grandfather’s house.  “The Bahraini authorities must undertake a prompt and thorough independent investigation to establish the circumstances in which this young man was shot,” said  Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme Director.”In particular, the authorities need to establish whether he was the victim of excessive force, in which case the police officer who shot him and any others responsible for the use of excessive force should be held to account. “Police are entitled to use force, including firearms, in certain, narrowly prescribed circumstances when their own or others’ lives are at risk, but the allegations here are that Hassan ‘Ali was shot while he was posing no threat.”Hassan ‘Ali is reported to have sustained a punctured lung, among other injuries, yet he was still interrogated by police while in hospital and charged with participating in riots and planning to burn a police patrol vehicle – which he denies.Hassan ‘Ali’s shooting follows a recent wave of protests by members of Bahrain’s Shi’a majority against the Sunni royal family and the government, which is dominated by the Sunni minority, who they accuse of discrimination against the Shi’a community. Two months ago, after Shi’a demonstrators in Karzakan burnt tyres in protest against the government, the security forces shot and injured Hussain ‘Ali Hassan al-Sahlawi on 14 March and left him lying unconscious. He was subsequently charged with participating in an illegal protest.