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Bahrain: Women prisoners abused, journalists tortured

The plight of Bahraini women prisoners have come to light in some tweets by their relatives or human rights activists. It paints harrowing pictures of Alkhalifa torture dungeons, with freedom to torture, abuse and snatch victims at will. Yousuf Al Mahafdha highlighted the agony of a young Bahraini female activist, Zahra Al Sheikh, 23 years, who has spent several months in hiding fearing for her life after she had been summoned for another round of torture. She was detained last year and her experience is highlighted by the Al Mahafdha’ tweets. She had been beaten up severely on various parts of her body, pictured as she was strip-naked and had toilet brush cleaner stuffed in her mouth. After her release she attempted to register at the University but was sentenced to one year in prison for trumpeted charges. Having experienced the horrors of the dungeons, Zahra went into hiding where she has remained for the past six months. Another experience of women behind bars is th at of Zainab Al Khawaja, detained for criticising Alkhalifa dictatorship. Her mother, Khadija Al Mousawi, wife of the internantionally-renouned human rights activis, spoke of her agony at what her eldest daughter, Zainab, is going through behind bars. In her first visit for six months, Zainab narrated harrowing details of how female prisoners are abused and denied the most basic of rights.

These facts have, themselves, become major hindrance in the way of any attempt by Alkhalifa to gain any form of popular legitimacy. Despite the recent reverses in the political democratic experience, Bahrainis will never again embrace the Alkhailfa as rulers. The ill-treatment of Bahraini prisoners is of such magnitude that all threads between Bahrainis and Alkhalifa have been severed. The status quo may continue but no reconciliation is possible without full power returned to the people. This is made worse by the continuing crackdown against Bahraini people and residential areas.

Today, the father of the first martyr of the Revolution was snatched from his home by hooded members of Alkhalifa-run Death Squads. Earlier this year, Jawad Al Sheikh, the father of Ali Al Sheikh who was killed on Eid Day two years ago, was detained for 50 days for demanding that his son’s killers be brought to justice. Many Bahrainis have been snatched from their homes or the streets and taken to secret locations where they are subjected to severe forms of torture. This morning nine people from Muharraq were detained; Abdulla Al Sayegh, Yousuf Zainal, Ashraf Ghuloom, Omran Amiri, Hassan Al Sakran, Mahdi Kalzaman, Hassan Al Sayegh and Moosa Al Hayki. Many houses were raided over the past week. In Juffair, Nu’aim and Sitra properties were damaged and children horrified.

Protests and demonstrations have continued unabated despite the horrific actions by the regime’s terror machine. Manama was the scene of a protest in which tens of people took part today. Other places also witnessed protests including Daih Town. Tomorrow, there will be large protest by the political societies demanding real change in the country.

Yesterday, 21st August, The Bahrain team at Amnesty International, issued an Urgent Action on behalf of Nafeesa al-‘Asfoor, a mother-of-two, who was arrested along with Rayhana al-Mousawi on 20 April as they were peacefully protesting near the Formula One Grand Prix circuit in Manama. They are both to be tried, have been tortured and Nafeesa al-'Asfoor is being denied the medical care she requires. The team urged people to write to the authorities calling for providing the two women with adequate medical treatment, release them immediately and arrange for impartial investigation into allegations of torture and other forms of abuse.

Bahrainis were grateful to Janet Salmon, is a consultant, writer and activist, who wrote to the Guardian yesterday about the situation in Bahrain. She said: In all the coverage of David Miranda's detention for nine hours at Heathrow, there was no mention of the journalists detained in Bahrain before the banned 14 August independence day marches. Among them was Mohammad Hassan Sudayf, a blogger who helped foreign journalists. He was arrested on 31 July, tortured and detained for 45 days. His lawyer, Abdul Aziz Moussa, who commented on the torture after seeing him on 8 August, was sentenced to seven days and his licence may be withdrawn.

A photographer, Hussain Hubail, was picked up separately at Manama airport on 31 July, leaving for Dubai. He was tortured and also detained for 45 days. So while I have sympathy for the Brazilian, I would like to see the Guardian and other international papers support the Bahrainis who have put their lives at risk to get out the news. Attacks on a free press are important, whether they are westerners or Arabs, but the latter tend to get ignored.

Bahrain Freedom Movement
22nd August 2013



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