Conflict & Justice

Teenage boy dies after protest in Bahrain


Iraqis wave Bahraini flags during a demonstration in Baghdad against the Bahraini government's suppression of protests led by the mainly-Shiite opposition in the kingdom on April 23, 2011.



A 14-year-old boy was killed by police forces during a protest in Bahrain on Wednesday, according to human rights activists in the tiny Gulf kingdom.

Ali Jawad Ahmad, 14, died after a police teargas canister struck his head at a protest, according to a statement posted online by the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights.

The incident occurred shortly after morning prayers in the Sitra region on Wednesday.

Several news agencies reported that Bahrain's state media, quoting a security official, denied any major police activity in Sitra on Wednesday.

The Associated Press reports:

Bahraini officials confirmed a 14-year-old was killed but gave no other details on the possible cause of death. A statement by the Interior Ministry said there was no reported police action in Sitra at the time the boy's death was reported.

The boy's uncle, Isa Hassan, told AP that Bahraini security forces "overreacted" to the small protest and fired canisters of teargas directly into the crowd.

"They are supposed to lob the canisters of gas, not shoot them at people," Hassan told AP at the boy's funeral. "Police used it as a weapon."

(GlobalPost in Manama: Bahrain becomes flashpoint in relations between US and Saudi Arabia)

Ahmad's father told CNN that his son was barely recognizable at the hospital.

A photo posted to the website of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, purportedly of 14-year-old Ahmad, shows a young boy's face almost completely covered in blood. Amateur video shot at the morgue and posted to social media websites shows similar graphic images.

"I lost my child... he does not deserve this destiny," Jawad al-Sheikh, the boy's father, told CNN.

A wave of Tunisia-inspired protests swept across in the tiny Gulf island nation in February, but the demonstrations were largely quelled by state security forces earlier this spring. In March, Bahrain's police were reinforced by a Saudi-led contingent of security dispatched by the Gulf Cooperation Council.

After several protesters were killed in February, human rights groups appealed to Bahrain's leader, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, to end the "heavy-hand tactics" by an "excessive police force."

King Hamad, a Sunni Muslim, has ruled over Bahrain's roughly 700,000 Shiite residents since 1999.  Bahrain's Shiite majority has long complained of political and economic discrimination, especially a lack of representation in government.

Bahrain is also home to an American naval base that serves the U.S. Fifth Fleet.