British government helps torturers in Bahrain


Bahraini human rights activists Asma Darwish and Hussain Jawad, when they were still both free and together

From Middle East Eye:

The UK could have stopped my husband being tortured in Bahrain

Asma Darwish

Friday 27 March 2015 09:34 GMT

The UK refused to grant Hussain Jawad asylum and now he is in a Bahraini prison due to his human rights activism

My husband Hussain Jawad has been in prison for more than a month. Every day, I get flashbacks about the night he was taken by state security from our home in Bahrain.

Hussain is a human rights defender and chairperson of the European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights (EBOHR).

On 16 February 2015, at 1am, he was arrested by 15 masked, plainclothes police officers. They insulted him by calling him a donkey and shouted: “damn you and the human rights field you work in”.

Hussain was then taken to the Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID) and he has since called me from prison to tell me of the torture he says has been subjected to there. He said CID officers handcuffed him and forced him to stand in a narrow, freezing cell.

They beat his back, chest, and head. Officers told him he would “never leave this place” and that they could fabricate more than 20 cases against him – adding up to a lifetime in prison.

He says officers have repeatedly threatened him with further violence if he does not admit to charges that include “rioting, participating in illegal gatherings and possession of Molotov cocktails”.

“If you don’t admit willingly in five minutes to save your honour, I will shove your honour up your ass,” one officer said to him.

“Do you want us to squeeze your mother’s milk out of your chest?” another asked.

One interrogator, he told me, touched his genitals and asked: “Do you want me to make you urinate or not have kids?”

The same man threatened to rape Hussain by inserting a pipe into his anus.

After all of this abuse and intimidation my husband signed a number of false confessions, including four different charges – one of which was “collecting money to fund saboteurs”.

When I asked him why he signed them, he told me: “CID is worse than hell itself.”

There is mounting evidence of the Bahraini authorities having tortured political prisoners, however, they continue to deny mistreating detainees.

My husband has a long history of human rights activism and this is not the first time he has been arrested, but this time it could have been avoided.

In November 2013, the government arrested Hussain for a speech he had given that month which called for peaceful reform. He was charged with “criticising government institutions” and “insulting the flag and emblem of Bahrain”.

That case is still going through the court system.

On 30 January 2014, shortly after being released from prison on bail, Hussain fled Bahrain to seek asylum in the United Kingdom.

I believed he had a good case. His arrest in Bahrain was public knowledge and I had hoped the asylum plea would be processed quickly in the UK so that we could be reunited as a family to raise our young son, Parweez.

But upon his arrival in the UK, Hussain was held for four days at the Harmondsworth Detention Centre. He was then referred to Fast Track Detention (FTD) – a process for non-urgent cases for asylum seekers who will likely be returned to their home country.

I didn’t know what to do. I felt helpless.

The Bahraini community in London – many of whom live in exile – helped me to hire lawyers from Deighton Pierce Glynn Solicitors, who filed a case against the UK Home Office to try and challenge Hussain likely being refused asylum.

My husband suffered badly throughout this process. He was released from the detention centre but had no way of supporting himself. For days he would be confined to his hostel, unable to buy food, waiting in vain to hear about his asylum claim.

When he first left, I honestly thought it wouldn’t take more than two months before we were reunited because of my belief in the strength of his case. I believed that we would live freely and in peace to raise our son Parweez. But after eight months without him and with no progress made on his case, I began to worry for our safety. I was worried that his continuing activism could anger authorities here in Bahrain. I was worried they would come after me, and that my son would have no one.

During Hussain’s absence, Parweez had to undergo an open-heart surgery. I had to take care of my sick child in the hospital without the emotional support of his father. We depended on Skype and social media to stay in touch.

On 28 August 2014, Hussain came home to Bahrain, having given up hope of winning asylum and out of a desire to be reunited with me and Parweez.

It was just five months later that he was re-arrested in the middle of the night at our home.

My son’s birthday was on 28 February. Hussain has now missed his last two birthdays: this year he is in prison and last year he was in the UK hoping for asylum to help us escape repression in our home country.

Hussain continues to be held in custody and his next trial hearing will be on 7 April.

We don’t know what will happen to him – there are thousands of political prisoners in Bahrain and many are serving years and years in prison for crimes that amount to no more than challenging the autocratic rule of the al-Khalifa royal family.

While the Bahraini authorities are the ones ultimately responsible for the treatment of my husband – and they should release him immediately – his latest arrest and subsequent suffering in prison was entirely avoidable.

I don’t know if the UK did not award Hussain asylum because of their well-known close ties with the Bahraini royals, but what is clear is that their refusal to give my family safe refuge has directly exposed my husband to the torture he says he has been experiencing in prison.

– Asma Darwish is the head of information and media relations at the European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights (EBOHR). She is married to EBOHR Chairman, Hussain Jawad and the mother of two-year-old Parweez.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Photo: Hussein Jawad and Asma Darwish pose together for a photograph (MEE/Asma Darwish)

* Faten Bushehri – a Bahraini freelance journalist and human and civil rights advocate – also contributed to this article.

Bahrain: Ongoing arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Mr. Hussain Jawad: here.

Lifting [United States] arms restrictions to Bahrain would enable the regime’s oppression: here.

Stop human rights violations in Bahrain


Bahraini human rights defender Ms Ghada Jamsheer

From SpyGhana.com in Ghana:

Bahrain: Lift the travel ban imposed on human rights defender Ms Ghada Jamsheer

March 24, 2015

Lt. Gen. Sheikh Rashed bin Abdulla Al Khalifa,

Minister of Interior,

Tel: +973 -17572222 and +973 17390000.

Email: info@interior.gov.bh

Your Excellency,

I am William Nicholas Gomes, Human rights activist and Freelance journalist.

I would like to draw your attention to the following case.

Human rights defender Ms Ghada Jamsheer was stopped at Bahrain International Airport on 14 March 2015 by security authorities and was informed that she was not permitted to travel as the Prosecutor General had ordered a travel ban against her. She had not received any written notification of such a ban.

Ghada Jamsheer is a human rights defender and the Head of the Women’s Petition Committee. She is an author, blogger, and an advocate for women’s rights and freedom of religion. Ghada Jamsheer attended the Fourth Dublin Platform for Human Rights Defenders in 2007.

The human rights defender was stopped at Bahrain International Airport as she attempted to travel to France to receive medical treatment. Ghada Jamsheer and her legal representative immediately sought a meeting with the Prosecutor’s Deputy, who reportedly refused to meet them. No reason was provided for the travel ban, but the Prosecutor’s Deputy asked the human rights defender to submit a request the next day for a review of the decision. Prior to travelling, Ghada Jamsheer had reportedly sought and received assurance from the Deputy Interior Minister that she would be allowed to travel.

Ghada Jamsheer has been targeted in the past for her human rights work, and is currently a defendedent in a prolonged trial on charges of “assaulting a police officer”. On 15 December 2014, the human rights defender was released after spending more than three months in detention in connection with the charges. Ghada Jamsheer had been arrested at her home on 12 November 2014, 12 hours after being released from ten weeks of detention.

The human rights defender was originally arrested on 14 September 2014 against the backdrop of ten complaints filed against her by different individuals for posting “insulting” and “defamatory” tweets.

I am concerned at the travel ban and on-going trial against Ghada Jamsheer, as it is believed that they are solely motivated by her peaceful and legitimate human rights work. I view this act as part of an ongoing crackdown against civil society and human rights defenders in Bahrain.

I urge the authorities in Bahrain to:

1. Immediately drop all charges against Ghada Jamsheer, and lift the travel ban imposed on her, as it is believed that they are solely motivated by her peaceful and legitimate work in the defence of human rights;

2. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Bahrain are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.

Yours sincerely,

William Nicholas Gomes

Human rights activist & Freelance journalist

Also from SpyGhana.com in Ghana:

Bahrain: Investigate the allegations of torture against Naji Fateel

March 24, 2015

Lt. Gen. Sheikh Rashed bin Abdulla Al Khalifa,

Minister of Interior,

Tel: +973 -17572222 and +973 17390000.

Email: info@interior.gov.bh

Your Majesty,

I am William Nicholas Gomes, Human rights activist and Freelance journalist.

I would like to draw your attention to the following case.

23 March 2015 marks the 13th day since human rights defender Mr Naji Fateel, detained in Jaw prison, has been held incommunicado. Authorities have refused to allow the human rights defender’s family to visit or contact him and did not provide any information on when contact may be resumed, stating that he is being punished.

Naji Fateel is a board member of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) and a blogger who has been active in reporting human rights violations in Bahrain. He has been imprisoned and tortured in the past, and was the subject of death threats during the Bahraini uprising starting in February 2011.

Reportedly, on 10 March 2015, Bahraini security forces attacked prisoners at Jaw Prison using rubber bullets, tear gas, and shotgun pellets. The incident allegedly started when the family of a detainee protested after being denied permission to visit the person. According to a witness, Naji Fateel was held in the same building where the clashes occurred, but was not involved in the events. However, shortly after the incident, an officer ordered that several individuals be taken to Building 10, including Naji Fateel.

The human rights defender had a sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment upheld against him by the Appeals Court of Bahrain on 29 May 2014. The human rights defender had been convicted of establishing “a group for the purpose of disabling the constitution” under Article 6 of the controversial Terrorism Act. Front Line Defenders sent an observer to his first instance trial, which fell short of fair due process guarantees. At the time of his arrest on 2 May 2013, Naji Fateel was held incommunicado for three days and reportedly subjected to torture.

I would like to express my grave concern at the incommunicado detention of Naji Fateel, especially given that he was not involved in the clashes, as well as at the absence of any information on his current situation. In light of his previous ill-treatment and torture and the fact that the use of torture has been documented in Bahrain, I am concerned for his physical and psychological integrity and security.

I urge the authorities in Bahrain to:

1. Immediately allow Naji Fateel to resume contact with his family;

2. Ensure that the treatment of Naji Fateel, while in detention, adheres to the conditions set out in the ‘Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment’, adopted by UN General Assembly resolution 43/173 of 9 December 1988;

3. Carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the allegations of torture against Naji Fateel, with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;

4. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Bahrain are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.

Yours sincerely,

William Nicholas Gomes

Human rights activist & Freelance journalist

Bahrain: Families Denied Prison Access After Unrest. Investigate Overcrowding; Ensure Family Contact for Prisoners: here.

Will a British court deliver justice for Bahraini torture victims? Here.

Bahrain asks [United States] Congress for help in restoring arms sales. Read more: here.

‘British police, arrest Bahraini torture prince’


This video from Britain says about itself:

Solicitor Sue Willman on case against Bahrain prince accused of torture

Sue Willman from Deighton Pierce Glynn Solicitors speaking at “Forced Disappearance and Torture in the UAE” on 5 November 2014 in London.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Human rights activists demand arrest of prince accused of torture during Bahrain uprising

Campaigners hope today’s ‘dossier’ will encourage police to question Prince Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa while he is London

Jamie Merrill

Friday 20 March 2015

Human rights activists have demanded that Scotland Yard arrest a Bahraini prince accused of torture – after the royal let slip he had returned to the UK by posting a video on Instagram.

Yesterday, campaigners presented the Metropolitan Police with a “dossier” of new claims against Prince Nasser bin Hamad al-Khalifa, who they say was involved in the torture of prisoners during a pro-democracy uprising in Bahrain in 2011.

The Bahraini royal, who is the son of the King of the Gulf country, is believed to be staying at a hotel in central London. On Thursday he posted a video online of himself running in Hyde Park, with a squadron of the Life Guards of the Household Cavalry in the background.

The post on Instagram was captioned: “That’s how it feels and sounds when you run in Hyde Park, London.”

His visit comes after the High Court ruled in October 2014 that Prince Nasser did not have diplomatic immunity from prosecution, overturning a previous Crown Prosecution Service decision.

But to the dismay of campaigners, Scotland Yard said there was insufficient evidence to pursue a case. The Government said Prince Nasser was “welcome” in Britain.

Now campaigners hope new information will encourage police to open a new investigation and question Prince Nasser while he is London.

Prince Nasser has denied any involvement in torture. Since the court ruling last year he has visited Britain on at least one occasion, during which he met with defence officials and David Cameron’s envoy to the Middle East.

Less than a month after the meeting, Bahrain signed a deal to establish a new Royal Navy base in the Gulf country.

Amnesty International has repeatedly expressed “serious concerns” over human rights in Bahrain, where it says there is “huge crackdown on freedom of expression”.

Last year’s High Court case arose after a refugee from Bahrain, referred to as FF, sought the arrest of Prince Nasser in London. Under international law Britain must investigate war crimes and FF claimed he had been tortured by Bahraini authorities – but not Prince Nasser directly.

Yesterday lawyers acting for FF delivered a fresh dossier to Scotland Yard’s specialist War Crimes Unit.

See also here. And here.

Bahrain’s Prisons at Their Breaking Point: here.

Bahraini regime, kidnappers like ISIS


This video about Bahrain says about itself:

Jailed for a Tweet: Interview with Nabeel Rajab

21 October 2014

Nabeel Rajab is a human rights activist awaiting trial in Bahrain, one of the West’s favorite dictatorships. Three years after the Arab Spring, protests there are still being violently repressed, and Rajab now faces up to three years in jail — for a tweet. VICE News spoke to him a few weeks before his latest arrest.

By Joseph Sabroski in the USA:

With kidnapping, Bahrain follows ISIL playbook

Key US ally continues to violate human rights with impunity

February 18, 2015 2:15PM ET

Citing “brotherly ties of kinship,” the Khalifa dictatorship of Bahrain has pledged the aid of the Bahraini Defense Forces to Jordan in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The regime’s kidnapping on Monday of Bahraini human rights defender Hussain Jawad, however, suggests the ruling family might also have a lot in common with the jihadist threat it claims to be fighting.

The chairman of the European-Bahraini Organization for Human Rights (EBOHR), Jawad was at risk of being tortured, according to a report from Amnesty International. After being snatched from his home by masked police officers, he was taken to the Criminal Investigations Directorate — an affiliate of the Ministry of Interior notorious for the torture of detainees who are in the process of being charged with a crime.

Reports surfaced on Wednesday that Jawad was going to be released, according to his lawyer Reem Khalaf. But at the time of publication, Jawad has yet to be returned home to his family.

This wouldn’t be the first time the island kingdom abducted and tortured a political dissident. Loved by the West for, among other things, hosting the U.S. Fifth Fleet and its hostility toward Iran, Bahrain has been violently repressing peaceful protests and political opposition while implementing only piecemeal reforms recommended by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, according to a report in Al-Monitor. Feb. 14 marked the fourth anniversary of Bahrain’s failed uprising and was predictably marked by violent clashes between security forces and protesters who have become disillusioned by the limits of peaceful political expression.

Jawad’s wife, Asma Darwish, is the head of information and media relations for the EBOHR and immediately took to Twitter on Monday to report the kidnapping of her husband, and numerous human rights activists followed suit. The Irish human rights organization Front Line Defenders said “masked men in civilian clothes” kidnapped Jawad and held him incommunicado for 10 hours before he was finally allowed to speak by phone to his wife.

According to Darwish’s tweets about her conversation with her husband, he may have been tortured already.

The terror that incidents like these inspire for loved ones is reminiscent of the pain felt by the family members of ISIL’s victims.

“To have masked men raid your house at dawn is scary, specifically when holding your 2-year-old son between your arms,” Darwish told me over Skype. “I am worried a lot. When Hussain called, that one only call … I heard noises and strange sounds. He hardly spoke. He left me there, broken beyond repair — yet feeling more empowered to fight back to bring my husband home.”

When armed masked men of ISIL kidnap and torture their prisoners, the U.S. and U.K. lead the charge in denouncing these actions in the strongest terms. But when their favorite Arab dictatorships, with which they have all kinds of cozy arrangements and mutual geopolitical interests, employ similar violent and brutal tactics to suppress political freedoms, the West looks the other way while entrenching its vested military and political objectives.

In a recent column at Middle East Eye, author Hussain Abdulla writes that “Western countries appear to be employing the ‘stability over democracy’ approach in the Gulf,” as combating ISIL is seen as a bigger priority.

The U.S. valued parking its Fifth Fleet in Bahrain long before the rise of ISIL. But as Abdulla points out, by shoring up support for Bahrain and other allied Arab dictatorships in the name of combating ISIL, the U.S. is all but guaranteeing the rise of future violent extremist groups in Bahrain by allowing the regime to continue committing its brazen human rights abuses.

After serving a two-year sentence for tweets that he wrote during the uprising, Bahraini human rights defender Nabeel Rajab was sentenced to six months in prison shortly after his release for tweeting that “many #Bahrain men who joined #terrorism & #ISIS came from security institutions and those institutions were the first ideological incubator.”

As if eager to vindicate his claims, the regime determined that the best course of action would be to follow ISIL’s lead: lock him up in a cage for the high crime of blaspheming the state.

Jawad was previously detained multiple times by the authorities and is already facing charges of insulting the king, according to a report in Middle East Eye. It remains to be seen if new charges will be brought in connection with his latest detention. His case, however upsetting, is unfortunately just one in a long line of victims who had the temerity to challenge and question the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Bahrain. Meanwhile, Bahrainis can rest assured that wherever there are masked gunmen throwing innocents into the back of a vehicle, the U.S. will not stand idly by, so long as it’s the right kind of villain behind the mask.

Joseph Sabroski is a freelance journalist who writes about U.S. foreign policy and the Middle East.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera America’s editorial policy.

Nabeel Rajab on the Bahraini government and ISIS: here.