Police appear to have used tear gas manufactured by US and South African-based companies on the 3rd anniversary of Bahrain’s mass protests. Images received by Bahrain Watch show tear gas canisters identical to those manufactured by Federal Laboratories (US/UK) and Rheinmetall Denel Munitions (German/South African), apparently used on February 14, 2014. This follows a May 2012 special briefing by US Senior Administration Officials confirming that the US “has maintained a pause on most arms sales and licenses to the Government of Bahrain”. A similar statement was made in January 2012 by the State Department confirming a halt on ‘most security assistance’, including item sales that can be used against protesters, to Bahrain.
Canisters from Federal Laboratories
Tear gas continues to be misused following the success of the Stop the Shipment campaign which blocked an export of 3 million tear gas canisters from South Korea. In addition to supplies from Federal Laboratories, canisters manufactured by US firm NonLethal Technologies were previously seen in Bahrain during the Formula One Grand Prix in April 2013 in two separate incidents.
Canisters from Rheinmetall Denel Munitions
According to activists quoted in the Financial Times, approximately 2 million tear gas canisters have been used in Bahrain since 2011. Bahrain Watch has identified canisters identical to those manufactured by Rheinmetal Denel Munitions (RDM) since 2011 in Bahrain. RDM recently stated that the company has “neither offered nor supplied tear gas cartridges to the government of Bahrain,” and the German agency responsible for licensing tear gas exports said that “there have been no applications from German companies to export tear gas to Bahrain in recent years.” RDM is 49% South African with a number of manufacturing plants located there meaning it may not have to apply for an export license in Germany.
Amateur video footage captured a week following 14 February 2014 shows an armoured vehicle firing tear gas canisters into a religious building in the village of Saar despite no apparent threat of violence. Tear gas was also fired into the Imam Al Sadiq Mosque located in the village of Duraz on the day of the anniversary. According to Physicians for Human Rights, the deaths of at least 39 individuals in Bahrain may be attributable tear gas.
Alongside the arbitrary use of tear gas, Bahrain security forces have also continued to use shotguns against protesters. On 23 January 2014, a protester was seriously injured following a direct headshot using shotgun pellets. The victim was rushed to surgery where x-rays discovered that shotgun pellets had penetrated his brain. He is now is a coma.
Injured protester Abdulazeez al-Abar
Bahrain Watch has documented the use of shotguns in Bahrain identifying Cyprus based manufacturer G&L Calibers Ltd. as Bahrain’s top pellet supplier with its line of Victory Starlight cartridges. It is important to note that Victory Starlight pellets have been manufactured for ‘hunting and clay shooting’ yet have been used by Bahrain to seriously injure, and in some cases kill, protesters.