Bahrain releases body of slain protester, funeral held

Bahraini protesters hold placards during the funeral of Mahmoud al-Jaziri on 5 March 2013 in Nabih Saleh, a small island south of Manama. (Photo: AFP - Mohammed al-Shaikh)

Published Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Several hundred people called for the king of Bahrain to be held responsible for the killing of protesters during a funeral Tuesday for Mahmoud al-Jaziri, a 20-year-old man shot in the head with a tear gas canister, witnesses said.

“Mourners are chanting ‘Down with King Hamad [al-Khalifa]’ and ‘hold him responsible for all the protesters killed and all the crimes committed,” Yousif al-Muhafda, deputy head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, wrote on Twitter.

The procession took place on the tiny island of Nabi Saleh.

The interior ministry released Jaziri’s body Tuesday after holding him for 12 days despite his family’s pleas to bury him.

Graphic photos taken at a morgue earlier Tuesday showed marks of the skull fracture that led to Jaziri’s death.

Riot police shot the projectile directly at his head at close range during a protest on 14 February 2013 marking the two year anniversary of Bahrain’s uprising. He succumbed to his wounds one week later, on February 21.

Video shows police shoot Mahmoud al-Jaziri in the head with a tear gas canister:

Jaziri’s cousin, 16-year-old Hussein al-Jaziri, had also been shot dead by security forces during February 14 demonstrations in their village of al-Daih, near the capital Manama.

Thousands had taken to the streets across Bahrain since his death demanding the release of the body.

Jaziri’s brother, Hassan, had launched a hunger a hunger strike on February 26 to protest the holding of the body. He is currently serving a one-year prison term for taking part in anti-government protests.

Bahrain’s interior ministry has denied that it was holding the body, saying that Jaziri’s family was free to pick up the body.

But the family said the ministry wanted to force the family to bury the body on the island of Nabi Saleh, and denied requests to hold a funeral procession in his native village of al-Daih. The family ultimately accepted to bury the victim in Nabi Saleh.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights condemned the restrictions in a statement last week.

The statement said Bahrain’s authorities wanted to keep the body in Nabi Saleh to contain anger over the killing by limiting the number of attendees at the funeral.

Funeral processions for victims killed by security forces often descend into violence.

Over 80 people have been killed in Bahrain since the anti-government uprising erupted in February 2011 according to opposition figures.

A Saudi-led Gulf force entered Bahrain in March 2011 to help crush the movement, but protests still occur almost daily in villages across the small kingdom, home to the US Fifth Fleet.

(Al-Akhbar)

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