Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Criticism of the Bahraini authorities withholding the body of Mahmood Al-Jazeeri, deceased man, from his family

Photo of Mahmood Al-Jazeeri.  
Used with permission from the 
Bahrain Center for Human 
Rights (BCHR).
On March 1, 2013, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), an organization that advocates for human rights in Bahrain, expressed its concern over the Bahraini government controlling the funeral and burial of Mahmood Al-Jazeeri, who died a week ago from injuries caused by a teargas canister fired at his head on February 14th. The BCHR had received information that his body is being withheld by the government, and that his family is not allowed to claim the body for the funeral and burial in the location of their choice.

The government is also controlling the location of Mahmood's funeral. The family wants to hold the funeral in the village of Al Daih, as this is where his family descends from, and where most of Mahmood's family is living today. However, the authorities want the funeral to be held in Nabih Saleh village to keep funeral attendance low, as only one entrance to the village exists. Nabih Saleh is also far away from where protests in Bahrain have been taking place (the Pearl Roundabout). Bahraini law does not specify where a funeral should be held. The reason given by the government for withholding the body is because it would contradict local social and religious traditions, although it has nothing to do with the country's legal code. The BCHR stated that withholding Mahmood's body from his family violates their human rights, and is illegal.

Mahmood's brother, Hasan Al-Jazeeri, went on hunger strike on February 26th to protest the government's actions. Hasan is being detained and imprisoned for a year, convicted in an unfair trial of illegal assembly and rioting, a common charge in Bahrain. Mahmood's mother is challenging the government's decision, so she and her family can bury Mahmood.

The BCHR notes that controlling the funeral of people killed by police is not new in Bahrain. During the 1990s, the government forced some families to bury their murdered sons without any formal funeral, and only in front of a few family members. The government has systematically harassed the mourners of the victims who were killed by the police. Since February 14, 2011, all funerals of the victims have been disrupted by the police. The BCHR also notes that it is common for mourners at funerals to be attacked with teargas by the police. Injuries and deaths have been documented as a result of police raids on funerals, including the murder of Fadhel Al-Matrook, who was shot on February 15th, 2011.

The BCHR has asked the Bahraini government to stop dictating the burial rituals of the dead and to focus on punishing the killers of Al-Jazeeri. So far, no official has been brought to justice for human rights abuses committed against the victims.

Mahmood Al-Jazeeri has already died a needless, violent death, and the Bahraini government withholding his body from his own family adds insult to injury! His family has the right to bury Mahmood in Al Daih, and the Bahraini government has no right to meddle in their affairs just to serve the interests of their own regime! By withholding Mahmood's body from his own family, the Bahraini government is only fueling outrage against the state by disrespecting human rights.

Anyone who has attacked a peaceful protester in Bahrain should be tried for human rights abuses, and the Bahraini government should be brought to justice for endorsing political repression! The international community also has a responsibility to intervene in Bahrain through non-military means, and bring the Bahraini government to justice for crimes against humanity! Non-intervention would only allow a disaster to unfold! INNOCENT CITIZENS OF BAHRAIN NEED JUSTICE!!!

For more information on this story, please visit: http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/5662

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