Bahrain denies abuse of schoolgirls

Officials deny Al Jazeera report that police raided girls' schools and beat them during its crackdown on protesters.

     

    Officials in Bahrain have denied an Al Jazeera report that police carried out raids on girls' schools, detaining them and beating them, during its crackdown against pro-democracy protesters, Bahrain news agency reported.

    "The allegations made by Al Jazeera English are totally baseless and without credibility", the sources were quoted by the agency as saying.

    "Reports that police have targeted students or beat them or threatened them are a blatant and malicious fabrication," they said.

    Bahraini authorities were responding to secret filming conducted by Al Jazeera correspondent, Charles Stratford, that revealed shocking evidence of the brutal crackdown against pro-democracy protesters in the Gulf state, including that police carried out periodic raids on girls' schools since the unrest began.

    The government of Bahrain deployed security forces onto the streets on March 14 in an attempt to quell more than four weeks of protests.

    Watch full interview with the Bahraini schoolgirl. 

    A three-month "state of emergency" that was declared by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa on March 15, is due to be lifted on June 1.

    At the height of the protests, up to 200,000 people rallied against the government. The crackdown was an attempt to end the protests that demanded the end of the despotic rule of the Khalifah royal family.

    In an interview "Heba", a 16-year-old schoolgirl, alleges she, along with three of her school friends, were taken away by the police from their school and subjected to severe beatings while in custody for three consecutive days.

    "He hit me on the head, I started bleeding. I fell down, he told them [guards] to keep me in the rest-room," she said during the secretly filmed interview.

    "He [the officer] hit and banged me against the wall to scream. Since we did not cry out or scream, we were beaten more and more, stronger and stronger.

    "Beating was severe, but being afraid of what comes next, we were senseless to the pain."

    According to the mainly Shia opposition Al Wefaq party, police have raided up to 15 mainly girls schools, detaining, beating and threatening to rape girls as young as 12.

    A Bahrain human rights group says at least 70 teachers have also been detained. Meanwhile the media clampdown continues.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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