21 December 2016 – Bahrain Watch has identified the use of a new Emirati-built armoured vehicle by security forces in Bahrain in a crackdown against demonstrations in the village of Duraz this morning. The Ajban ISV is manufactured by Nimr Automotive based in the United Arab Emirates and marks the first time that UAE manufactured armoured vehicles have been identified in Bahrain. We have also found the use of tear gas and flashbang grenades manufactured by companies based in Brazil, France, and South Africa/Germany in the attack today.
Earlier today, protesters took part in demonstrations in the Bahraini village of Duraz in response to a heavy police contingent which arrested a number of people near the home of a high-profile Shia cleric, Shaikh Isa Qassim. Qassim was stripped of his nationality by the government earlier this year, after which supporters started a sit-in outside of his home. In response to the demonstrations today, security forces fired tear gas, flashbang grenades, sound grenades, shotgun pellets and rubber bullets against protesters.
According to Nimr Automotive’s website, the Ajban ISV is an “internal security 4×4 vehicle fitted with a hardened 10-man cabin and equipped with gun ports, roof hatches and an integrated camera-based situational awareness coupled to a fleet-to-base intercommunication system.” The company provides services to optionally fit the vehicle with crowd control equipment. The vehicle itself can be fitted with a wide array of man operated and remote combat weapons.
With the assistance of the Omega Research Foundation, we have found that the Ajban ISV vehicle used by security forces in Bahrain has the Rheinmetall 40mm Rapid Obscuring System (ROSY) mounted. It is unclear whether this was installed by Nimr Automotive or by Bahraini officials. As well as providing smokescreens and having an internal IR jammer, ROSY can also be used to launch tear gas and flashbang grenades.
Video Demonstration of ROSY by Rheinmetall Denel
ROSY is manufactured by Rheinmetall Denel Munition Ltd which is a company jointly owned by Rheinmetall Waffe Munition GmbH based in Germany and Denel (Pty) Ltd. In addition to ROSY, we have identified that security forces have today used Rheinmetall MK-13 Flashbang Grenades manufactured by Rheinmetall Denel Munition Ltd. These grenades were heavily used against demonstrations in 2011.
In December 2014, the Bahrain Economic Development Board supported a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Bahrain National Institute for Industrial Training and the Education Center of Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles in Kassel, Germany. A statement from the EDB at the time said that “the MOU is part of a wider plan between NIIT and Rheinmetall Education Center that also incorporates planning an apprenticeship and training center in Bahrain, and implementation of the apprenticeship pilot project joint workshops and seminars, and to participate in fairs and conferences.”
Rheinmetall MK-13 Flashbang produces a sound of around 180dBA, and a flash of around 6 million candles. The US Joint Munitions Command warns that army personnel using this model must wear “single hearing protection,” and that “double hearing protection” is recommended. For training purposes, when wearing “single hearing protection,” a user is only allowed to throw one grenade per day; when wearing “double hearing protection,” a user is allowed to throw 20 grenades per day. Personnel is also advised to never look directly at the grenade. The grenade can ignite a fire and can cause injury up to 10 feet away.
Another tear gas canister used in Duraz was the Condor GL 203/L Multiple Charge Tear Gas which is manufactured by the Brazil-based Condor Technologies. Dates found on the canisters show that they were manufactured in February 2014, which means that Bahrain would have imported the canisters sometime in the last three years. Condor GL 203/L Multiple Charge Tear Gas canisters from Condor Technologies were also heavily used against protesters in 2011 and in some lead to serious injury.
In September 2015, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) submitted a complaint to the Brazilian National Contact Point of the OECD to investigate Condor for potential human rights violations under OECD guidelines. However, this investigation was later blocked by the Brazilian government.
Furthermore, security forces used tear gas manufactured by the France-based SAE Alsetex. This is our second sighting of the munition since 2014 after French officials claimed in 2013 that “all of the exportation of law enforcement products to Bahrain ceased on the 17th February 2011.”
Arms Watch is a project by Bahrain Watch to identify and document arms and ammunition used by security forces in Bahrain against demonstrators. In 2013, our team exposed an impending shipment of three million South Korean tear gas canisters to Bahrain. Our viral “Stop the Shipment” campaign in 2013 led to the suspension of the shipment.