Bahrain: Mahmood Al-Ghasra Arrested, Harassment of Family Continues
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses grave concern in regards to the health and well-being of Mahmood Al-Ghasra, who was arrested by the Bahraini authorities without a warrant or just cause whilst crossing the Saudi Bridge of the King Fahd Causeway on Wednesday, 30 April 2014.
Al-Ghasra was previously arrested on 21 April 2014 when the Bahraini authorities detained him and his father at the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID). They were released several hours later after being questioned without the presence of a lawyer. The BCHR believes that these unjustified arrests and harassment of family members were made in attempt to pressure the brother of Mahmood Al-Ghasra, Redha Al-Ghasra, into turning himself in.
Redha Al-Ghasra was arrested and subjected to enforced disappearance on 23 April 2014 following his brief escape from prison. Knowledge of his whereabouts and condition were unknown until 01 May when he called his family from Jaw prison. The BCHR has documented a pattern of these types of arrests and disappearances, and the detainees in these situations often report that they are subjected to torture.
Given the previously documented harassment against Redha Al-Ghasra, and the larger pattern of arrests and subsequent systematic torture documented by the BCHR, the BCHR believes he is at serious risk for ill-treatment and torture. In a video capturing sound reportedly made during his 22 May 2013 arrest, Redha Al-Ghasra can clearly be heard screaming from severe beating. Prior to his May 2013 arrest, he was arrested twice, once in May 2011 and again in April 2012. During his last arrest, Redha refused to speak of the worst torture he endured. However, he did give details including how everyday during his reported torture, all the officers present would spit into his mouth. He was also subjected to beatings on his face that resulted in several broken teeth as well as beating with sandals on his face that resulted in swelling that lasted for approximately two months. The severe swelling was witnessed by his family during their first visit to see Redha. Al-Ghasra told sources who spoke to the BCHR that during the torture he was subjected to he would reach points during which he “would wish for death.” Even when the torture stopped, he remained in continuous pain. From the date of his arrest to the date of his escape, he was not allowed access to any kind of medical treatment.
The authorities have repeatedly targeted the Al-Ghasra family. Their home has been subjected to at least 70 house raids in a two-year period . Two of Al-Ghasra’s brothers, Sadiq and Hassan, both under the age of 21, are currently in juvenile prison, and two of his other brothers are exiled and unable to return to Bahrain.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls on the United Kingdom, the United States, and all other close allies of the Bahraini government to pressure the authorities in Bahrain to:
- Immediately release Mahmood and Redha Al-Ghasra, and all other prisoners who are held on politically motivated charges due to the ongoing popular protests for freedom and democracy;
- End the practice of torture and excessive use of force and uphold Article Five as a signatory of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
- Adhere to the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners and end the practice of denying prisoners fair treatment.
The BCHR holds the Bahraini authorities responsible for the life and well-being of Mahmood and Redha Al-Ghasra.