Bahrain on Sunday executed three Shi’ite Muslim men convicted of killing three policemen in a 2014 bomb attack.
The executions happened less than a week after the country’s highest court confirmed the punishment against Abbas al-Samea, 27, Sami Mushaima, 42, and Ali al-Singace, 21, found guilty of killing one Emirati and two Bahraini police officers. State news agency BNA said the men were shot and killed in the presence of a judge, doctor and a Muslim cleric.
Activists in the Sunni-ruled, Western-allied kingdom reacted with rage, calling it a “black day” and posting images of protesters clashing with police on social media.
“This is a black day in Bahrain’s history. It is the most heninous crime committed by the government of Bahrain and a shame upon its rulers” said Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy.
Amnesty International said the executions were carried out “after an unfair trial and despite claims from the men that they were tortured in custody”. Bahrain denies practising torture.
Iran, a sharp critic of Bahrain’s government called the punishments “reckless”. “Bahrain’s government has demonstrated that it does not seek a peaceful resolution and a way out out of the crisis,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi, quoted by the official news agency IRNA.
Such executions are rare in the small Gulf island. The last similar case involving a Shi’ite Bahraini occurred in 1996. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said in a statement that Britain opposes the death penalty and he “raised the issue with the Bahraini Government.”
Bahrain’s majority Shi’ite population has for decades accused their rulers of discrimination in matters of jobs, housing and political say. Social media postings by activists showed demonstrators blocking roads with burning tires and throwing rocks at police who responded with tear gas in several Shi’ite villages.
The postings said at least one person was hurt by birdshot, according to a Twitter posting which included a photo of a young man bleeding from an eyebrow.