Two anti-government activists in Bahrain have reportedly died in police custody weeks after they were first detained, as the government’s crackdown against opponents appear to be ever-hardening.
Bahrain’s interior ministry stated Ali Issa Saqer, died when prison guards sought to restrain him for causing chaos, while another detainee, Zakaraya Rashed Hassan, reportedly died of sickle cell disease.
The ministry said Saqer was arrested on March 13 for the attempted murder of a policeman.
Hassan was detained on April 2 on charges of inciting hatred, publishing false news, promoting sectarianism and calling for the overthrow of the regime on social networking sites, the ministry said.
Both of the deceased were Shias.
Many anti-government figures believe political prisoners are being tortured to death, although the state authorities deny the allegations.
However, a photo taken of Saqer in hospital prior to his death showed bruises and welts all over his body.
A representative of Human Rights Watch (HRW) told the BBC: It is extremely scary that in all three cases of the deaths last week, the families only heard about their loved ones when they were dead.”
HRW has demanded that charges of abuse and torture by Bahrain police and state security be investigated and that those arrested be given access to lawyers and their families.
Nabeel Rajab of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights said outright he believes the detainees were murdered in prison. Rajab and the former chief editor of Bahrain's main opposition newspaper, al-Wasat, have been summoned by state authorities to answer accusations of how they have covered the uprising.
Meanwhile, Bahrain remains under emergency rule, as the Sunni ruling elite appears to want to offer no concessions to the Shia majority who dominate both the country by population and the opposition movement.
According to human rights activists, more than 400 people have been detained by the authorities.
One of the Bahraini opposition movement biggest foreign supporters, Shia-dominated Iran, has accused the United States and Saudi Arabia of interfering in Bahrain.
Parviz Sarvari, a member of Iran’s parliament, told the state-controlled Fars News Agency: The amoral silence of the western and regional media is very suspicious and noticeable since even those media which covered the popular uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Yemen refrain from releasing news of the genocide in Bahrain.”
Sarvari also called the Manama government a puppet of the US.
The Al-Saud [of Saudi Arabia] is ruling Bahrain very easily and blatantly yet both the Al-Saud and Al-Khalifa [of Bahrain] regimes massacre the Bahraini people at the order of the westerners, specially the US.
Separately, Bahrain has deported 16 Lebanese nationals over security concerns, a foreign ministry official told Agence France Presse on Monday.
The foreign ministry has been notified by Lebanon's ambassador to Bahrain, Aziz Kazzi, that the authorities there on Sunday asked six Lebanese to leave the country, after having expelled 10 Lebanese last week, the official said.
Bahrain has accused Hezbollah, a Shia militant group based in Lebanon and financed by Iran, of helping to foment the Shia-led unrest in Bahrain.
The Bahraini authorities has described Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah as being the leader of a terrorist organization.