Bahrain dictatorship tortures Canadian

This video is about torture in Bahrain.

From the Toronto Star in Canada:

Canadian jailed for protesting in Bahrain

Tue Oct 25 2011

Josh Tapper
Staff Reporter

Naser al-Raas remembers the cramped office, the beatings, and the small gun pointed at his head. He remembers the cables used to tie his hands behind a chair and the blindfold fastened around his face.

He remembers the ambush at Bahrain International Airport on March 20, just as he was preparing to present his Canadian passport to customs and fly to Kuwait, where he was born.

He remembers three mock executions held under the desert sun. And he remembers the dingy cell in the notorious Al Qala prison, where he said he spent more than a month in solitary confinement, beaten and electrocuted daily, the screams of other tortured prisoners echoing through the halls.

Now on Wednesday, nearly six months after he was inexplicably released from that cell, authorities are set to enter his in-laws’ home in Bahrain — where he is staying with his Bahraini fiancée Zainab — and steer him to prison, for a five-year term for participating in antiregime demonstrations that swept the country beginning in February. At least 30 people have been reported killed in the crackdown.

Al-Raas was sentenced by a civilian court Tuesday for violating Bahrain’s illegal-assembly laws. A defence lawyer in Bahrain said he was one of 13 people sentenced to jail terms for links to anti-government protests and unrest in the Gulf kingdom.

The 28-year-old lived in Ottawa from 1996 to 2000, and his mother and brother are still there. He now works as an IT specialist in Kuwait.

Al-Raas had arrived in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom of Bahrain on March 6 amid a countrywide crackdown on Shiites protesting against the Sunni monarchy.

“I didn’t chant against the government; it’s not my business,” he told the Star. “The country was in chaos.”

But when he tried to return to Kuwait two weeks later, he said, he was whisked away by men from Bahrain’s National Security Agency, an intelligence wing of the Ministry of the Interior.

Over the course of his imprisonment, al-Raas said he was beaten daily with a rubber hose. He also suffered excruciating chest pain. Al-Raas has pulmonary hypertension, a heart and lung condition.

His torture in Bahrain is recorded in a medical report filed by Doctors Without Borders obtained by the Star.

When he was released on April 28, al-Raas stripped off his prisoners’ garb and put on the Ottawa Senators T-shirt he’d worn to the airport. He said he made a forced on-camera confession to spying for the Iranian government. Then he was dumped in the street outside the prison, given back his glasses and wallet and told to take a taxi home.

“It was like science fiction,” he said.

Over the next month he petitioned Bahraini officials for his passport, which had been taken during his arrest. When, finally, officials told him to retrieve his passport on June 7, he said he was arrested and beaten again, and this time warned not to contact Canadian authorities.

He was charged that day in the kidnapping of a Bahraini police officer, an accusation he denies, and taken to a military court. He was eventually acquitted on Oct. 4.

But before then, he was also hit with civil charges for “gathering” and “spreading false news.” The guilty verdict and five-year sentence were handed down Tuesday.

Whether or not al-Raas joined protesters, his sentence violates his “fundamental rights to human expression,” said Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada.

During his military trials, al-Raas said he received regular visits from Canada’s consul in Saudi Arabia, Michael Erdman, but couldn’t get a new passport to leave the country. Canada does not have diplomatic representation in Bahrain.

Neve said he raised al-Raas’ case with Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird’s office earlier this month.

“While it’s clear the Canadian government has been giving the case some attention, there’s no indication it’s been given high-level attention,” Neve said. “That’s what we’re looking for now with a verdict in.”

The foreign affairs ministry did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

Unsure of his fate, al-Raas hopes his case will bring to light human rights abuses in Bahrain.

“I know how people suffer,” he said. “I know what dictatorship means now. When you hear a man being tortured till he dies, it’s worse than being tortured.”

A Canadian who says he was tortured while detained in a Bahrain prison fears he will die in custody when he returns to jail this week to begin serving a five-year sentence: here.

Help Free Tortured Bahraini Teacher Jaleela Al-Salman: here.

BAHRAIN: Female teacher re-arrest exposes human rights abuse as others recount torture: here.

INTERVIEW: Bahrain’s main opposition group targets “fake democracy”: here.

USA: Congress backs Bahrain protesters when the White House won’t: here.

Bahrain: 17 malicious cases and jail terms for 96-years for prisoner of conscience, Sheikh Mohammed Habib Almiqdad: here.

Bahraini royal adviser to powerful prime minister accused in $6m bribe case: here.

7 thoughts on “Bahrain dictatorship tortures Canadian

  1. US Labor Team Probes Job Purges In Bahrain

    by The Associated Press

    MANAMA, Bahrain October 26, 2011, 06:57 am ET

    MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — Union officials say the U.S. Department of Labor has dispatched a team to Bahrain to investigate workplace purges that have brought calls to suspend a key trade pact with the Gulf nation.

    At the same time, Bahrain’s Sunni rulers are urging quicker reviews of the dismissals of hundreds of workers after Shiite-led protests for greater rights broke out in February.

    The visit by the U.S. team, which wraps up Thursday, is linked to a complaint filed in June by the biggest U.S. union group, the AFL-CIO, seeking to suspend a U.S.-Bahrain free trade pact, which waives tariffs on industrial and consumer products.

    Halting the trade pact would be a seen as a strong American rebuke against leaders in Bahrain, which hosts the U.S. Navy’s Fleet.


  2. Canadian fears more torture from officials in Bahrain

    By Thandi Fletcher, Postmedia News October 26, 2011

    Naser Al-Raas says he’s fearfully awaiting the moment Bahrain police handcuff, blindfold and drag him back to a jail, where he contends, he’ll ruthlessly be tortured for a crime he did not commit.

    Al-Raas, a Kuwait-born Canadian citizen, was sentenced this week for breaking Bahrain’s illegal-assembly laws. He and 12 others were sentenced for having links to antigovernment demonstrations.

    Al-Raas, 28, is free pending an appeal, but could be arrested before the scheduled Nov. 22 court date. If so, he is certain he will be tortured again. Earlier this year, Al-Raas said he was kidnapped and beaten for a month in an underground prison.

    “The main thing that was going through my head was ‘How will I survive?’ Al-Raas told Postmedia News on Wednesday, calling via Skype from Bahrain as he believes his phone lines likely are tapped. “I saw death many times.”

    On March 20, Al-Raas was leaving Bahrain after a three-week visit to check up on his five sisters and ensure they were safe amid the political unrest enveloping the tiny Persian Gulf country.

    Pro-democracy protests that broke out in February amid the fervour of the Arab Spring were crushed by Bahraini security forces, backed by Saudi troops. The government says 24 people were killed, including four police officers, while the opposition puts the count at 31.

    Al-Raas was returning to Kuwait where he worked as an IT specialist.

    At Bahrain International Airport, four policemen in civilian clothes ambushed and forced him into a tiny office where he was beaten and held at gunpoint, Al-Raas recalled.

    They blindfolded him, took him to an undisclosed location, and subjected him to a mock execution where bullets were repeatedly fired around him.

    For a month, he was held hostage, taken to an underground prison cell where he endured the screams of others. He said he witnessed one man being tortured until he was dead.

    When it was his turn, he said his torturers took him to a wooden room, blindfolded him, and tied him to a chair with ropes. They beat him with a rubber hose, kicked him with military boots, and electrocuted him. Sometimes they would spit into his mouth and force him to swallow, he said.

    Other times, he would be forced to stand up for hours at a time without rest and was beaten when he tried to sleep, said Al-Raas.

    “I could not sit, I could not sleep. Whenever I moved, I was beaten by many officers,” said Al-Raas.

    Often the blows were targeted at his chest, where he has scars from two open-heart surgeries.

    Al-Raas has pulmonary hypertension, a heart and lung disease that requires careful medical attention and anti-clotting medication.

    When he asked for his medicine, his requests were denied and the torture intensified, said Al-Raas.

    A month after he was arrested, Al-Raas said he was forced to make an on-camera confession, threatened to not speak to the media and told not to tell anybody about the torture. Then finally, he was released.

    Once free, Al-Raas pleaded to have his Canadian passport, which was seized during his arrest, returned. On June 7, when security officials told him he could come get his passport, he was arrested and beaten again, and charged with kidnapping a Bahraini police officer.

    He denied the accusations and was taken to military court earlier this month, where he was acquitted of all charges.

    But on Tuesday, he was found guilty in civilian court on other charges, for participating in protests and publicly inciting hatred and contempt against the regime.

    Amnesty International is now urging Canada’s federal government to pressure Bahraini authorities to drop the charges against Al-Raas, who they said is being held as a prisoner of conscience.

    “In our view, there is absolutely no reasonable basis for the charges,” said Alex Neve, secretary general for Amnesty International in Ottawa. “Now that the conviction has happened, it’s vitally important that the Canadian government bring considerable pressure to bear on Bahraini authorities to drop the charges and for the verdict and sentence to be quashed.”

    On Wednesday, John Babcock, spokesman for Diane Ablonczy, the minister of state for foreign affairs, said Canadian consular officials in Ottawa and in Riyadh are providing consular assistance to Al-Raas and his family in Canada.

    Al-Raas has lived on and off in Ottawa since 1996.

    “Although the government of Canada cannot interfere in the judicial affairs of another country, we have made high level representations to Bahraini authorities to seek assurances that the individual is afforded due process and to ensure his well-being,” Babcock said.

    Babcock added the Canadian government is aware and concerned of reports that Al-Raas was mistreated while in detention in Bahrain, and has raised its concerns with the “appropriate authorities.”

    Although he has appealed the decision, Al-Raas said he has been advised to surrender himself to Bahraini authorities within 10 days.

    For now, he is enjoying spending time with his fiancee Zainab, waiting in fear for the unpredictable moment Bahraini police may storm his home.

    Since his arrest, Zainab has worked tirelessly to contact international human rights groups for help.

    “Naser can’t go there again,” said Zainab, her voice thick with emotion. “(The police) are animals. They are not even human.”


  3. US ends Bahrain sackings probe

    Thursday 27 October 2011

    A group of US government investigators wrapped up a probe in Manama today into the Bahraini government’s mass sacking of trade unionists and others suspected of links to opposition protests.

    The US Department of Labour launched the inquiry in response to a complaint filed by the AFL-CIO, the largest US union confederation.

    The group is trying to block a free-trade deal following widespread sackings of workers and union leaders in the wake of a Saudi-backed crackdown on protesters demanding greater civil and labour rights.

    The investigators’ report will be finished by December.

    Bahraini people, including thousands of trade unionists and members of the minority Shi’ite community, began protests in February calling for progressive reforms, including an end to the monarchy’s monopoly on appointing top government officials.

    At least 35 people have died in the military crackdown and hundreds have been purged from jobs or arrested, including some sentenced to life in prison or given death sentences for killing soldiers and police.

    Bahrain’s biggest union confederation, the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions, says that 2,500 people have been kicked out of their jobs.

    But the Obama administration is wary of doing anything to antagonise Bahrain’s rulers, who host the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet.

    US rights groups are currently lobbying Congress to block a proposed $53 million (£33m) arms sale to the kingdom.


  4. UK charges businessman with Bahrain bribery

    By AP | October 28, 2011

    LONDON (AP) — British authorities have charged a London-based businessman with bribing officials at Bahrain’s state-owned aluminum manufacturer, including a prominent member of the country’s royal family.

    The Serious Fraud Office says Victor Dahdaleh is charged with corruption over contracts with U.S.-based Alcoa Inc., for shipments of the raw material alumina to Bahrain from Australia.

    The alleged offenses took place between 2001 and 2005.

    The fraud office confirmed Friday that Sheik Isa bin Ali al-Khalifa, son-in-law of Bahrain’s prime minister, is named as an alleged recipient of corrupt payments. Spokesman David Jones said wrongdoing by any Bahraini nationals “would be a matter for the Bahraini authorities to consider.”

    Dahdaleh is due to appear in a London court Monday.


  5. Pingback: Canadian persecuted in dictatorial Bahrain | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  6. Pingback: Bahrain repression continues | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  7. Pingback: Libya, Bahrain and the London School of Economics | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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