The comments came after Bahrainis staged demonstrations to protest against the authorities’ refusal to hand over the body of a protester killed by regime forces last week. The 20-year-old protester was hit in the head by a tear gas canister on February 14 after security forces attacked anti-regime demonstrators in Nabi Saleh, south of Manama, as they were marking the second anniversary of the uprising.
An interview with Saeed Shehabi, member of the Bahrain Freedom Movement, to further discuss the issue.
Q: Looking at the situation, why do you think that the government is refusing to give this protester’s body back to his family?
Shehabi: It is a clear indication of the regime’s inability to comprehend the reality on the ground. The people are there in the streets, they are protesting. Of course they should be allowed to protest but the regime has killed several of them recently and one of them is Mahmoud al-Jaziri whose body has not been yet given back to and handed over to the people and to his family.
The regime is afraid that the demonstrations that will accompany his burial will be again a flashpoint for major public hostility against the Al Khalifa dictatorship and it seeks to stop that happening because what we saw last week when the body of another martyr was buried, Hussein al-Jaziri, a younger boy who was hit at the same time and shot at the same time as Mahmoud on the 14th of February, we saw that the people in their thousands turned out to his funeral and it just became a flashpoint against the regime.
Q: Mr. Shehabi let me just jump in here because you are saying that what the regime is thinking is that if they allow, give the body back and the burial then will become a flashpoint of demonstrations but right now we are seeing now demonstrations going everyday because they have not given the body. So isn’t this basically shooting themselves in the foot because now the demonstrations are still growing every day?
Shehabi: The demonstrations are there, the regime is trying to stop them. At the same time it does not want to hand over a body which is riddled with bullets and shot gun wounds because that would also prove that he has been killed at point-blank range especially that this is the first time when you have a full documentary of a crime that has been committed in daylight and captured on video, the killer and the victim on the same shot and you could see the aggression and the terrorism of the state and that also is another point why the regime does not want to hand over the body until the feelings, he thinks it will subside.
I believe that the situation has become more grim because of the delay in handing over the body and that the next few days will also become very, very hot in terms of political activism as they approach, as the 14th of March approaches which is the day when the Saudis invaded the country and occupied Bahrain.
So there are many events that are going to happen in the next few weeks with the Formula 1 in April. The regime wants to ensure that calm has retained because there is a lot of pressure on Formula 1 not to hold its race again on the blood of the martyrs in Bahrain.
However, the people will continue their activism, they will be in the streets, they will challenge the occupation by the Saudis and they will call on the world to stop racing on Bahrainis blood.