For Immediate Release: October 17, 2013
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First said today that reports that Bahrain will import 1.6 million tear gas canisters from South Korea are another worrying sign that the crackdown on protests is set to continue. The organization urges the U.S. government to speak out publicly against the sale.
“Tear gas is the weapon of choice for the Bahraini regime,” said Brian Dooley of Human Rights First. “Given the country’s population, this new shipment would mean two new tear gas canisters for every Bahraini – man, woman or child. In May 2012 the U.S. government decided to stop exporting tear gas canisters to Bahrain. U.S. policymakers should explain to the government of South Korea why it took that step and ask the South Korean government to halt the deal.”
Since widespread protests began in Bahrain in early 2011, an unknown number people have died as a result of tear gas inhalation, while others have been killed by direct hits from canisters being fired at close range. Tear gas has been used by the Bahraini security forces as a method of collective punishment against neighborhoods, and has been fired directly into cars and homes.
“It is unclear what the protocol for police use of tear gas in Bahrain is – how the canisters are checked out by officers at the start of their shift and how they are accounted for at the end of it. What is clear is that tear gas is being used in an indiscriminate, inappropriate, and lethal way,” said Dooley. “The U.S. should publicly oppose all sales of tear gas to Bahrain while it is being abused by the police.”
For more information or to speak with Dooley, contact Corinne Duffy at DuffyC@humanrightsfirst.org or 202-370-3319.