Press TV correspondent Aris Roussinos
Source: Press TV
A Press TV correspondent has given a firsthand account of the violence used against Bahraini civilians during the Al Khalifa crackdown on anti-government protests.
Aris Roussinos said on Sunday that Bahraini authorities have made the 'fear factor' an important component in their crackdown on nationwide protests.
He said Bahraini, Saudi and Emirati forces frequently raid Shia-majority villages, which have been opposition strongholds.
“There are checkpoints every few hundred meters,” Roussinos said, noting that the forces are not after known protesters, but rather carry out random searches.
The Press TV correspondent added that the security forces would drag people out of their cars and assault them.
Bahraini civilians are afraid of speaking out about the incidents of violence against them for fear of falling prey to midnight raids, and go missing.
Saudi forces, who are identified by their alarming black balaclavas, are the most feared, the reporter said, adding that he has seen video footages of the forces going into villages and desecrating Shia sites and smashing cars.
Roussinos said he suspected that the teargas canisters used against protesters contain nerve agents, which incapacitate demonstrators.
Press TV's correspondent was himself tear-gassed while reporting on anti-government protests in Bahrain.
Roussinos said he could not present himself as a Press TV correspondent upon entering Bahrain due to the authorities' intensive efforts to associate the protests with Iran -- a point reaffirmed by Nabeel Rajab, the President of Bahrain Center for Human Rights.
The correspondent said, “Journalists would be accompanied by 'media minders,' who would make sure they see what the government wants them to see or not see what it would rather hide from the media.”
Rajab told Press TV that hundreds of Bahrainis have been detained and went on to confirm reports of inmate abuse, saying Bahrain has had a 'culture of torture of political prisoners.'
Moreover, the Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday that it had documented several cases in which the forces had “severely harassed or beaten” the patients who were receiving medical care in Manama's Salmaniya hospital.
Roussinos said the hospital was now looking more like a military zone and was being patrolled by secret police.