Bahraini police have clashed with the thousands of demonstrators who had turned out for the funeral procession of an activist who died in regime custody.
The scuffles took place in the village of Sanabis, which lies on the suburbs of the capital, Manama, on Friday.
Mourners were shouting slogans against Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah when riot police moved in. Witnesses said police fired buckshot and tear gas to disperse the crowd, who attempted to march on the site of the now-destroyed Pearl Square in the heart of the capital.
Reports said at least one protester suffered a birdshot wound in the eye.
Bahrain’s Interior Ministry announced the death of the 45-year-old prisoner Mohammed Sahwan “due to natural causes” in a Tweet on Thursday. Sahwan was serving a 15-year sentence at Jaw prison for taking part in anti-regime demonstrations.
However, his relatives said the man had lost his life as a result of injuries sustained during the 2011 crackdown on rallies against the ruling al-Khalifah dynasty. They said that Sahwan’s head and body still contained buckshot that had hit him during the protests six years ago.
Sahwan was arrested in November 2011 and was handed down the jail term in May 2012. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights said he had been tortured to confess to various crimes. Sahwan himself had said in 2012 that a police officer had forced him to sign a fake confession.
“We have examined you at the hospital and saw more than fifty bullets of shotgun in your head … I shall hit you with all tools I have on your left side until you see the shotgun [bullets] coming out of your head… and blood scatters out of your head unless you sign this statement,” Sahwan quoted the police officer as having told him.
Meanwhile, Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, the director of advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, has called for an independent and impartial probe into his death.
Anti-regime protesters have been taking taken to the streets in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the country in February 2011. The Pearl Square, where people attempted to reach during the Friday procession, was destroyed by regime authorities because it had become an icon of the uprising.
People have been demanding that the Al Khalifah family relinquish power and let a just system representing all Bahrainis be established.