Bahrain: Continued Harassment and Ill-Treatment for Ahmed Al-Arab
The BCHR is also strongly concerned for continued attacks on Ahmed Al-Arab. On 25 May he was denied a family visit, and he has reported an increase in harassment following the escape from prison of Redha Al-Ghasra.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its deep concern about the wellbeing of the detainee Ahmed Mohammed Saleh Al-Arab, 22 years old, who has been reportedly subjected to torture and still suffering from resulting injuries. Al-Arab was arrested on the morning of 9 January 2014, and was held in enforced disappearance for 21 days. (For further details please refer to previous BCHR statements http://bahrainrights.org/en/node/6701, http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/6772).
On 28 April 2014, Ahmed’s family was able to visit him. They reported that visit was scheduled for 7 o’clock in the morning, but they didn’t bring him until 7:15 AM and that they were not compensated for the lost time. They also stated that Ahmed’s window was the only one with glass in it. The window frame is divided into three sections that are usually glass-free, this time only the middle section was open and the other two had glass in them. Ahmed spoke to his family about the investigation he was subjected to on 21 April 2014 due to Redha Al-Ghasra’s escape. The prison management woke him up and took him around 6 or 7 AM and did not return him until 2 PM. Ahmed told his family that he did not understand why he was being questioned in regards to how “he,” referring to Al-Ghasra, “had escaped” because he had no knowledge of the event. He reported that they harassed him, and taunted him by saying that he wanted to escape as well but couldn’t make it. Ahmed also stated that they demanded that he confesses to assisting Al-Ghasra with the escape and that he wanted to go with him. He told them that that this would have been impossible, because not only was he not in contact with Redha Al-Ghasra, who was in solitary confinement, he himself was under constant surveillance.
On 12 May 2014, Ahmed’s family went to visit him again for a one-hour visit scheduled for 7 o’clock in the morning. The family arrived at 6:45 AM, but had to wait until 7:35 AM before Ahmed was brought in. They reported that two guards entered with and remained close to Ahmed and that another guard was pacing behind the family while an officer observed from the corner. At 8:00 am, Ahmed’s father spoke to the officer in charge and told him that they must be compensated because Ahmed was brought in late, however, at 8:10 the guards told the family that the visit was over. This prompted an argument between the guards and Ahmed, who insisted that it was his right to get the full time of the visit as both he and his family had been on time. He stated they delayed him on purpose and brought him after the other prisoners at which the officer reportedly mocked him and dismissed what he was saying. During the short visit, Ahmed told his family that since first week of May, he had two guards posted to him at all times. The officers reportedly harassed him by interrupting his sleep and not giving any privacy while he made phone calls. Ahmed told his family that he believes this treatment to be in retaliation for the recent escapes from Dry Dock Detention Center.
Al-Arab has previously reported that he was subject to severe torture and ill-treatment whilst held in detention. During the time of his enforced disappearance, he was reportedly detained at the criminal investigation department (CID), where Al-Arab reported being subjected to torture. He said he was stripped naked and hung from his wrists while they were handcuffed behind his back. According to his testimony, he was repeatedly beaten all over his body, he was pulled from his feet over and over to twist and hurt him while he hung from his wrists. He was insulted and assaulted continuously and deprived from sleeping. He was threatened that they would hurt his sister, telling him that she had been arrested. His face was covered with a cloth and water was poured into his mouth to insinuate drowning. He stated that he believed he would die every time. When he was finally allowed to go to the bathroom after begging, Al-Arab said his face was so swollen he could not recognize himself, and his facial hair (beard) would fall on its own with bits of his skin. At times, he was kept standing in the corridor and when he complained of being tired, they made him lie down so that everyone walks on him as they pass. He said that he was subjected to continuous verbal abuse and psychological torture including keeping him in the dark for long periods and forcing him to listen others being tortured. AlArab added that during the night he was moved to a prison in Riffa, where ice was poured on him while he was hung, and this routine continued for five or six days. He told his family that he feared that some of the sensory nerves in his right arm may be damaged where sometimes it cannot be lifted and he doesn’t feel them.
The BCHR calls on the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Nations, the European Union and all close allies and international institutions to put pressure on Bahraini authorities to:
- Immediately and unconditionally release Ahmed Al-Arab, along with all other detainees held on politically motivated charges due to the ongoing popular movement for freedom and democracy.
- Immediately end the use of torture as a method to obtain confessions, and provide guarantees for the safety and security of detainees.
- Hold all those who have been implicated in torture accountable, especially those in high positions who have ordered or overseen the use of torture;
- Immediately release all prisoners in cases where the only evidence presented against them in court were confessions obtained under torture;
- In criminal cases, allow independent and neutral observers to be involved in the proceedings to guarantee due process and to confirm that the crime took place.