Mourners in the funeral march of Hussein Al-Jaziri. Photo: Sharif Abdel Kouddous
Ali Ahmed Ibrahim Al-Jaziri helps lower his son’s shrouded body into a grave as dozens of mourners crowd around. Many cover their noses and mouths to ward off the sting of tear gas wafting nearby. On the outskirts of the graveyard, hundreds of young men and boys armed with rocks and molotov cocktails are confronted by a phalanx of security forces in full riot gear, backed by armored cars and SUVs. The booms of firing shotguns and tear gas canisters punctuate the buzzing of a police helicopter surveilling the scene below. This is a Bahraini burial.
“I want retribution for my son,” Al-Jaziri says calmly. “We want real accountability, not like what happened with the other martyrs.”
Sixteen-year-old Hussein Al-Jaziri was killed on February 14, the day marking the second anniversary of Bahrain’s 2011 uprising. Eyewitnesses told The Nation a police officer shot him twice from a distance of just three or four yards at a street corner in Daih, a village west of the capital. The claims are supported by photographs taken at the morgue showing birdshot wounds clustered tightly together on Hussein’s upper right abdomen—proof of the shooter’s close range. The Bahraini government says it has launched an investigation.
The circumstances of Hussein’s death are especially poignant. On the same date two years earlier, 21-year-old Ali Abdulhadi Mushaima suffered a strikingly similar fate in the same village, where he was fatally shot in the back by police. He would become the first martyr of Bahrain’s uprising; since then, nearly ninety people have killed in Bahrain according to local human rights groups, though some put the number at more than 120, a high toll in a population numbering just 600,000.
A police officer was also killed in the clashes that marked the second anniversary after he was hit with a projectile that fatally injured him, according to the Interior Ministry.
Graffiti of the destroyed Pearl Roundabout adorns a wall in Jeblat Hebshi, Bahrain
The uprising that began two years ago brought thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators to Pearl Roundabout, in Bahrain’s capital city of Manama. Peaceful protests in the square lasted for a month before they were brutally crushed by the country’s monarchy, with the aid of a Saudi-led Gulf intervention force, as the United States and Europe looked the other way. The Bahraini government tore down the 300-foot monument at the heart of the square, six curved white beams, representing the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, topped with a cement pearl. Today, protesters scrawl graffiti depicting the monument on village walls as a symbol of an uprising that continues unabated.
“The spirit of the revolution after two years is the same level of force as it was in the beginning, on February 14, 2011,” says Majid Malid, chair of the Manama Municipal Council and a member of the General Secretariat of the Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, the country’s largest political opposition group. Al-Wefaq has joined five other opposition groups to take part in a National Dialogue called by King Hamad bin Isa AlKhalifa. It is the first attempt at talks in eighteen months and will include the participation of government and pro-government representatives.
Opposition parties say they are pressing for major political reforms, including a constitutional monarchy and an elected prime minister to replace King Hamad’s uncle who has been in power for forty-two years. Yet protesters have little trust in the government, especially the youth, many of whom identify with a leaderless yet respected activist group known as the February 14 Coalition.