[This report was originally published by Bahrain Watch on 18 October 2013.]
13,000 E-Mails Sent so far; Embassy Protest in London; Support from Korean Workers Federation
[Manama]. A global campaign has been launched to stop the flow of tear gas to Bahrain, after research and advocacy group Bahrain Watch published a leaked official document showing that the government may be planning to import 1.6 million tear gas canisters and 90,000 tear gas and sound grenades.
At least thirty-nine deaths in Bahrain since 2011 have been attributed to tear gas, while in a new case just this week, nineteen-year old Abbas Abdulnabi was reportedly injured by a tear gas canister shot at his head, leaving him in a coma.
On Thursday, Bahrain Watch launched an urgent campaign, "Stop the Shipment," to prevent such exports of tear gas to Bahrain. Bahrain Watch understands that no shipment related to this tender has yet been made, however, such a shipment could begin at any time. The campaign currently targets the South African and South Korean tear gas suppliers whose weapons are used by Bahrain’s police, as well as the relevant export licensing authorities in both countries.
The Korean Federation of Trade Unions threw its support behind the Stop the Shipment campaign, sending a letter to the Korean Government asking them to halt all tear gas exports to Bahrain. Meanwhile in London, the UK-based NGO Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) has called for a protest outside the Korean Embassy on Friday.
The Stop the Shipment campaign website allows activists to easily contact Bahrain’s tear gas suppliers and the relevant regulatory agencies through email, call, fax, and social media. So far, participants around the world sent over 13,000 emails demanding a stop to the shipment.
Based on examinations of spent tear gas canisters used on protesters in Bahrain, Bahrain Watch has identified South Korean firms DaeKwang Chemical Company, Ltd. and Korea C.N.O. Tech, Ltd., and German/South African company Rheinmetall Denel Munitions as the producers of the tear gas recently used in Bahrain. Tear gas manufactured by DaeKwang Chemical Company and Rheinmetall Denel Munitions have been linked to the deaths of two teenagers: 15-year old Sayed Hashim and 14-year old Ali Jawad respectively, after they were struck by the canisters in their head or neck.
The monetary value of the planned shipment is unclear, however based on an estimate of ten to twenty dollars per canister, the total price could be between sixteen and thirty-two million dollars.
“The Bahraini Government’s use of tear gas as a tool of repression is unprecedented in terms of scale and frequency. Scores have been killed, and a young man is unconscious right now,” said Bahrain Watch member Ala’a Shehabi. “Companies selling tear gas and government agencies allowing the sales must bear responsibility when the recipient has such a consistent track record of misuse.”
The Stop the Shipment campaign is lead by Bahrain Watch, in association with the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), and Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB).
Bahrain Watch is a monitoring and advocacy group that seeks to promote effective, accountable, and transparent governance in Bahrain through research and evidence-based advocacy.