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23 Mar, 2012 14:59

Bahrain cop crackdown: Woman dies, boy allegedly tortured

An elderly woman has died after Bahraini security forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets at opposition rallies. Meanwhile, activists claim a young boy was beaten and sexually harassed by police during the latest crackdown.

A 59-year-old woman, Abde Ali, has died on Friday from inhaling tear gas fired by the Bahraini security forces. She had been exposed to the tear gas on Thursday, her family said, as the security forces were using the gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds of protesters in several towns outside the capital Manama.Thousands of people across the country have taken to the streets to mourn her death on Friday.Meanwhile, the activists have released a video showing a handcuffed child with bruises and cuts on his hands, claiming he had been kidnapped, beaten and sexually harassed by the police. Activists said security forces targeted the teenager repeatedly because he refused to work with authorities as an informant.The video uploaded to YouTube shows a group of locals trying to remove the tight plastic handcuffs from the boy’s hands with a pair of pliers.The 16-year-old was found unconscious and semi-naked with his hands tied behind his back near the village of Sanabis, outside of Manama, Lebanon’s Al-Manar reported. The ongoing protest against the Saudi-backed Al Khalifa regime faces violent crackdowns by Bahraini security forces for the past 12 months. The escalation of unrest comes amid the retrial of 20 doctors and nurses who were convicted of trying to overthrow the government by treating demonstrators injured in last year's protests. The original prosecution of the medics brought widespread international condemnation.Due to excessive use of force by the police, six demonstrators were killed in January and seven more in February, according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights estimates.In an effort to clean-up their human rights image and show there are no beatings taking place, Bahraini authorities said they plan to install video cameras inside police stations, RT’s Paula Slier reports. However, critics say cameras will not help the situation, because most of the protesters are being beaten before they even reach the police stations.The ruling Al Khalifa royal family is “killing, torturing and oppressing” people, who dare to protest against the regime, government and business consultant Christoph R. Hoerstel explained to RT. The monarchy is also denying equal economic opportunity and democratic participation to Bahraini people and the reforms it claims to be implementing is a fraud he added.“For these reasons the people are opposed to this monarchy since so many years, I think 50 or so,” he said. “This is a truly democratic spirit at people and it should be an honor for the Western so-called democracies to support these people.” Bahrain was the third country to be hit by the Arab Spring in 2011 but, unlike Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen, Bahrain’s government did not fall.The US regards Bahrain as its closest ally in the region because the Fifth Fleet – the US naval fist targeted at Iran – is stationed there.