Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) strongly condemns the death of an eight-year-old boy from Karbabad village in Bahrain on Saturday, and calls for an independent investigation into his death. Qassim Habib died after experiencing respiratory problems believed to have been triggered by exposure to the heavy use of tear gas in his village on January 17.

“Qassim’s death is another example of the indiscriminate use of tear gas against civilians by the Government of Bahrain,” said ADHRB Director Husain Abdulla. “The pervasive use of tear gas as a weapon by Bahrain’s police force has resulted in injury to dozens of protesters and innocent bystanders, and death to at least 30 more. This violence needs to stop, not today, not tomorrow, but yesterday.”

The use of tear gas by the Government of Bahrain has been documented by various human rights organizations. A report published in August 2012 by Physicians for Human Rights, for instance, chronicled the “relentless and indiscriminate” use of toxic chemical agents (i.e., tear gas) against Bahraini citizens, resulting in the “maiming, blinding, and even killing of civilian protesters.” According to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, the “extensive use of tear gas” is the number-one cause of death by authorities in Bahrain, contributing to 31 percent of all such deaths.

ADHRB calls on the Government of Bahrain to stop all attacks on civilians and to discontinue the use of tear gas until a full and independent investigation into tear gas-related injuries and deaths in Bahrain can be completed. ADHRB also calls on the government to hold officers accountable for using tear gas in an excessive or improper manner. The international community must also pressure the Government of Bahrain to put a permanent end to such attacks. Finally, ADHRB asks that the suppliers of tear gas cease the distribution of such articles to the Government of Bahrain until an independent investigation into allegations of the misuse of crowd control devices can be conducted.

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Please click here for a PDF of this statement.