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Fresh demonstrations after Bahraini activist dies following execution protest

Mohamed al-Miqdad, 21, was taken to hospital after being found unconscious on a street in the capital Manama
A photo of Mohamed al-Miqdad (BIRD)

A new round of protests broke out in the Bahraini capital Manama on Monday, following the death of a 21-year old activist after taking part in demonstrations against the execution of two Shia youths in the kingdom.

Police fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of demonstrators in Bilad al-Qadeem suburb where Mohamed Ebrahim Habib Mansoor - also known as Mohamed al-Miqdad - died from gas inhalation on Saturday, four activists said.

A government spokesperson said in a statement sent to Reuters that the man died from natural causes, but did not comment on the protest.

Miqdad had been protesting against the executions of Ali al-Arab and Ahmed al-Malali, who were killed on Saturday morning after reportedly being subjected to torture and forced confessions.

According to the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), Miqdad was found unconscious in a suburb of the capital Manama following the protests on Saturday, which police heavily targeted with tear gas.

He was brought to the Salmaniya Medical Complex, where he died Sunday morning. The circumstances of his death are unclear.

A statement released by the Bahraini Interior Ministry on Sunday said the "death is normal and its causes are satisfactory according to the medical report and there is no criminal suspicion".

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Maryam al-Khawaja, a board member of BIRD, said there needed to be an inquiry into the causes of Miqdad's death.

“We’ve documented many cases over the years of protesters who died after being subjected to excessive use of tear gas, and we still don’t don’t know the health consequences of the unprecedented use of tear gas in Bahrain in 2011 and 2012," she said in a statement on Monday.

"There is a critical need for research and international accountability. Without accountability, there is no incentive for the Bahrain government to end the violations.”

The government told the Associated Press that a medical report confirmed illness as the cause of death.

The two men executed on Saturday were arrested separately in February 2017 and sentenced to death in January last year following a mass trial with 58 other defendants.

The process was described by Amnesty International in a statement as an "unfair trial in which the defendants were tortured to 'confess'."

Bahrain has jailed hundreds of protesters since 2011, with Manama claiming Shia Iran backed demonstrators in order to topple its government - an accusation Tehran denies.

The Gulf kingdom is majority Shia Muslim, according to unofficial estimates contested by the government, which is led by a Sunni royal family.