UN rights chief denounces use of excessive force against protesters in Bahrain

NEW YORK: The United Nations human rights chief on Wednesday urged authorities in Bahrain to stop using excessive force against protesters after two of them were shot dead by authorities.

Ali Abdulhadi al-Mushaima, 27, was shot on Monday and Fadhel Salman Matrook, 32, was killed on Tuesday by members of Bahrain's security forces, according to a news release issued yesterday by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

"I urge the authorities to immediately cease the use of disproportionate force against peaceful protestors and to release all peaceful demonstrators who have been arrested," High Commissioner Navi Pillay said.

"Too many peaceful protestors have recently been killed across the Middle East and North Africa," she added.

Bahrain's king announced on Tuesday an investigation into the deaths of the two protesters.

"Our first concern is the safety of the homeland and our citizens and for everybody to get their rights," the king said.

Protesters had called for a "Day of Rage" to mark the 10th anniversary of the National Action Charter, which returned the country to constitutional rule after the 1990s uprisings. Initially, people have taken to the streets to demand reform and the introduction of a constitutional monarchy, but some are now calling for the removal of the royal family.

Pillay stressed that lasting social stability could only be built on the foundations of the freedoms of expression and of peaceful assembly, adding that Bahrain, as a State party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, must fully respect its human rights obligations.

OHCHR had been working on establishing a dialogue with the authorities since the political crackdown that began in the country in August 2010.

Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, is ruled by the Sunni Muslim al-Khalifa family, but two-thirds of the population are Shiite. In recent years, younger Shiites have staged violent protests to complain about discrimination, unemployment and corruption.


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