Bahraini governmental torture update

Bahrain, capital of torture, demonstration signs

Bahrain torture report undermines UK’s reform claims. New accounts of prisoner mistreatment documented in Human Rights Watch report, undermining British claims that Gulf ally has reformed security services: here.

Bahrain’s security forces torture detainees using electric shocks, beatings and sexual abuse, despite a public pledge by the king of Bahrain four years ago to end such practices, according to a report released on Monday by the New York-based Human Rights Watch: here.

Bahrain tortured detainees years after 2011 protests, Human Rights Watch says: here.

Torture still happening in Bahrain jails: HRW: here.

Bahrain sexually abuses detainees, still ‘capital of torture’ despite UK support – HRW: here.

Bahrain security forces ‘continue to torture detainees‘: here.

Bahrain refuses to prosecute police who tortured journalist: here.

Human Rights First today urged the U.S. government to increase pressure on the Bahraini regime to implement all 26 recommendations from the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) four years after the report’s release: here.

Bahrain authorities violate the rights of hundreds of children against the convention on the Rights of the Child: here.

The one-year-old daughter of Sheikh Ali Salman, the secretary general of Bahrain’s main opposition party, al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, has been deprived of Bahraini citizenship on political grounds, Salman’s wife announced: here.

Donald Trump wants to bring back Bush’s waterboarding torture

This video from the USA says about itself:

US executed Japanese soldiers for waterboarding

25 April 2009

CNN interview with Paul Begala and Ari Fleischer [of the George W Bush administration], leaving the latter dumbstruck when Begala reveals that the US executed Japanese soldiers for waterboarding US soldiers.

From daily The Independent in Britain today:

Donald Trump would bring back waterboarding because it is ‘peanuts compared to chopping off heads

Who chops off heads? ISIS terrorists do: sometimes, they chop off heads of prisoners sold to them by ‘moderate’ Syrian insurgents, mentioned so often in Western regime change war propaganda.

Which government chops off heads? Only one government. No, not ISIS, as their ‘Islamic State’ is neither Islamic nor a state with a government. The only government in the world practicing death penalty by beheading is the kingdom of Saudi Arabia; in many respects, including cruel punishment, the role model for ISIS. But I don’t think that Donald Trump minds beheadings in Saudi Arabia. Like many people in government in the USA don’t mind beheadings when their Saudi royal allies do it.

Trump also continues to support the concept of a database for Muslims, despite comparisons to Nazi Germany

Adam Withnall

Donald Trump has said he would bring back waterboarding if he was made President.

Speaking in an interview with ABC News on Sunday, the would-be Republican candidate said the interrogation technique, widely considered to be a form of torture, was “peanuts compared to chopping off people’s heads”.

The billionaire businessman sparked controversy at the end of last week by suggesting he would have all Muslims living on the US register on a database.

Mr Trump has since suggested the database would be “just for Syrian refugees”, but when asked by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos if he would unequivocally rule out a database on all Muslims, he replied: “No, not at all.”

The US should “be very, very vigilant” of any refugees it accepted from Syria, he said, adding: “They should not come in, by the way. They should not be allowed to come in.”

“That’s a whole different level and I would absolutely bring back interrogation and strong interrogation.”

During the interview, Stephanopoulos pressed Trump on his support of the Second Amendment – the right to bear arms – and the fact that he would have a watchlist for Muslims.

Asked if he accepted the fact that “under current law, individuals on the terror watchlist and the no-fly list have been allowed to buy guns and explosives”, Mr Trump said: “We have to have a watchlist, and if that watchlist has somebody that’s — you know, we have — you know, we have the laws right now. We have the laws already on the books as far as Second Amendment for guns, and as you know I’m a big, big, really big proponent of the Second Amendment.”

Trump did back away from comments on closing mosques. In an interview on Tuesday, he said the United States was “going to have no choice” but to close mosques.

But on Sunday, Trump said: “I don’t want to close mosques; I want to surveil mosques.”

Ben Carson, who faced criticism this week for comparing Syrian refugees to “rabid dogs”, wouldn’t say whether he would reinstate the use of waterboarding.

Trump also approved of a Black Lives Matter protester getting roughed up at one of his rallies, and tweeted this wildly inaccurate graphic on racial violence.

Donald Trump embraces open racism: here. And here.

Donald Trump’s white fascist brigade: His rallies are now a safe space for racism. An activist is beaten and taunted with racial slurs at a Trump rally in Alabama. This is just the beginning: here.

Paris attacks: Women targeted as hate crime against British Muslims soars following terrorist atrocity. Figures show 115 Islamophobic attacks in the week following the Paris killings, a spike of more than 300%: here.

Release Guantanamo torture videos, United States judge says

Guantanamo torture, cartoon

By Tom Carter in the USA:

US judge orders release of Guantanamo torture videos

31 October 2015

On Tuesday, federal district judge Gladys Kessler rejected the Obama administration’s latest attempts to block the disclosure of videos that depict beatings and force-feeding at the Guantanamo Bay torture camp.

Judge Kessler had previously ordered the release of the videos on October 3 of last year, and the Obama administration has been attempting to overturn her order ever since. The videos in question are 32 separate recordings and two compilations that depict the torture of former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Abu Wa’el Dhiab.

Dhiab was abducted by the US government in Pakistan in 2002 and smuggled to Guantanamo Bay. After being held and tortured for 12 years without charges or trial, he was released in December 2014 to Uruguay.

Dhiab was born in Lebanon but grew up in Syria. After his marriage he moved to Kabul, Afghanistan, where he ran a small business. Following the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, Dhiab fled to Pakistan with his wife and children, where he was seized by the authorities and turned over to the American intelligence agencies, likely in return for the payment of a cash bounty.

As a result of his brutal treatment at Guantanamo Bay, Dhiab is now permanently disabled and confined to a wheelchair.

While at Guantanamo Bay torture camp, Dhiab went on a peaceful hunger strike to protest his detention and the conditions of his confinement. Hunger strikes have been widespread at Guantanamo Bay ever since the camp was opened. A 2013 hunger strike involved more than half the population of the camp.

Guantanamo’s guards sought to break the hunger strikes, which they called “voluntary fasting,” with the most sadistic retaliation. In addition to savage beatings called “forcible cell extractions,” strikers were subjected to force-feeding against their will. Strikers were strapped down while feeding tubes, with no anesthetic, were roughly forced up their noses and down their throats. Often, the tube had blood and bile still on it from the previous victim.

Describing the treatment of inmate Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif, who later died at Guantanamo Bay under suspicious circumstances, a 2004 Amnesty International report stated: “Twice a day, the guards immobilize Latif’s head, strap his arms and legs to a special restraint chair, and force-feed him a liquid nutrient by inserting a tube up his nose and into his stomach—a clear violation of international standards. The feeding, Latif says, ‘is like having a dagger shoved down your throat.’”

Another Guantanamo prisoner, Ahmed Rabbani, described how during the procedure he “vomited blood on himself three or four times” before passing out. During one sitting, the tube was inserted upside down, so that it felt like it was being “pushed up into [his] brain.” According to his attorney, this left Rabbani “screaming in pain.”

While Dhiab was being held at Guantanamo Bay, attorneys filed a lawsuit in federal court in the United States in an attempt to stop the torture.

At the time, Dhiab told his attorneys, “This is my life. I should have the freedom to decide what I want to do with it. If I want to go on hunger strike, that is my business. They should never force feed us. I am on a peaceful protest. The U.S. government pretends that they give freedom to people, but in this way they are taking away my freedom. The whole world knows that we are protesting peacefully and they pretend they want to take care of our health. It is our health, to do with as we see fit.”

“I want to see my wife and children after this captivity and take them to my chest,” he continued. “I want them to feel that their father is with them—that they are not orphans, that their father is alive. I want and demand my stolen freedom and the peace that I am looking for. I want to leave to get medical treatment, and meet my dear wife and sons.”

In May 2014, Judge Kessler issued a ruling that allowed the force-feeding to continue. While she criticized the force-feeding procedures, which caused Dhiab to “suffer unnecessary pain,” she wrote that “the Court simply cannot let Mr. Dhiab die.”

In the course of the litigation, 32 “classified” videotapes depicting the torture of Dhiab were apparently disclosed to Judge Kessler but were not made available to the public. In June 2014, a number of journalists intervened in the case to try to secure the release of the torture videos to the public, after which Judge Kessler agreed to permit a partial release of the footage.

The Obama administration claims that the torture videos constitute “state secrets,” and has sought to block their release in court on the grounds of “national security.” The Obama administration claims that the videos would “incite” extremist groups to engage in violence against America and also embolden other Guantanamo detainees.

Government lawyers appealed unsuccessfully to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals to stop the disclosure of the videos, and on May 29 the case was returned to Judge Kessler. On Tuesday, Kessler issued a decision rejecting the Obama administration’s latest arguments as “repetitive, speculative, and extremely vague.”

“Transparency about the actions of our government—including the judiciary—is one of the cornerstones of our democracy,” Kessler wrote. “This Court has found that the Government’s justifications for barring the American public from seeing the videotapes are not sufficiently rational and plausible to justify barring release of the videotapes, which are part of the Court’s official records, from the eyes and ears of the American public.”

Incredibly, the Obama administration’s lawyers had tried to argue that releasing the videos would violate Dhiab’s right to privacy. In her decision on Tuesday, Judge Kessler called this argument “flat out unbelievable.”

In fact, Dhiab supports the release of the videos. “I want Americans to see what is going on at the prison today, so they will understand why we are hunger-striking, and why the prison should be closed,” Dhiab wrote in documents filed with the court. “If the American people stand for freedom, they should watch these tapes. If they truly believe in human rights, they need to see these tapes.”

The force-feeding of hunger strikers is acknowledged as a potential form of torture under international law. Since 1975, the World Medical Association has prohibited doctors from participating in the force-feeding of hunger strikers, so long as the prisoner is “capable of forming an unimpaired and rational judgment.”

In addition to brutal beatings and force-feeding, other forms of torture practiced at Guantanamo Bay and other US “black site” facilities have included waterboarding, forced nudity, shackling in “stress positions,” sexual humiliation, sexual assault, sleep deprivation, mock executions, solitary confinement, and the infamous practice of “rectal feeding” revealed by the December 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee report on the Central Intelligence Agency’s torture program.

To date, none of the war criminals involved in this sadistic conspiracy have been prosecuted, from the participants and their supervisors to those at the top who orchestrated and continue to cover up the program. Instead, the Obama administration has bent over backwards to coddle and protect the war criminals, attempting to conceal the torture program behind a veil of “state secrets” and “national security.”

The Obama administration has vigorously opposed the disclosure of the Dhiab torture videos, and plans to appeal Judge Kessler’s latest decision, further delaying their release.

As of December 4, 2013, the Obama administration announced that it would not be disclosing any more information about the Guantanamo hunger strikes to the public, on the grounds that disclosure does not serve any “operational purpose.”

The author also recommends:

The death of Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif
[3 December 2012]

Guantánamo Diary: A book that needs to be read
[6 February 2015]

PLAN TO CLOSE GUANTANAMO EXPECTED THIS WEEK The Pentagon will release the administration’s final attempt to close the prison. However, it would need Congressional approval. [AP]

The White House indicated Tuesday that President Barack Obama will sign into law a Pentagon spending bill that significantly raises the base budget of the US war machine while prohibiting the shutdown of the prison camp at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station in Cuba or the transfer of its detainees to US facilities: here.

CIA torture psychologists’ lawsuit

This video says about itself:

Here the rain never finishes: exclusive CIA torture report from the ACLU | Guardian Docs

13 October 2015

Survivors of Central Intelligence Agency torture are sueing the contractor psychologists who designed one of the most infamous programs of the post-9/11 era. Salim, one of the three ex-detainees in the suit, is a Tanzanian fisherman who says that flashbacks from his ordeal in CIA custody are a permanent part of his life.

By Nick Barrickman in the USA:

Lawsuit charges US psychologists involved in CIA torture program with war crimes

15 October 2015

A lawsuit filed on Tuesday in federal court alleges that American psychologists James Mitchell and John “Bruce” Jessen collaborated with the CIA in devising “enhanced interrogation techniques” that were later used by US personnel in Guantanamo Bay, Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, Abu Ghraib in Iraq and unlisted US black sites. The charges were filed by victims of the US torture program and the ACLU, and declare that the two doctors engaged in a “joint criminal enterprise” with the US government, constituting “torture, cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; non-consensual human experimentation; and war crimes, all of which violate well-established norms of customary international law.”

The lawsuit was filed by Suleiman Abdullah Salim and Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud, Tanzanian and Libyan nationals who were subjected to CIA torture methods, as well as by Obaid Ullah, a representative of the family of Gul Rahman, who was killed while under interrogation in 2002. The lawsuit alleges that Mitchell and Jessen “designed, implemented, and personally administered an experimental torture program for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency” while working with the agency.

Mitchell and Jessen were tapped by representatives of the Bush administration in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks to devise interrogation methods intended to break the willful resistance of Al Qaeda suspects in US custody. According to the lawsuit, the two CIA collaborators “proposed a pseudoscientific theory of countering resistance” based on 1960s experiments in which doctors subjected animals to “uncontrollable pain” in an effort to instill a state of “learned helplessness” in their victims, the latter eventually submitting passively to the will of their captors. These methods were first carried out on Abu Zabaydah, a suspected Al Qaeda militant captured in March of 2002.

Victims of the program were subjected to “solitary confinement; extreme darkness, cold, and noise; repeated beatings; starvation; excruciatingly painful stress positions; prolonged sleep deprivation; confinement in coffin-like boxes; and water torture” in CIA black sites under the supervision of Mitchell and Jessen, which resulted in “lasting psychological and physical damage,” the lawsuit alleges. The family of Rahman, the latter having died of such abuse, was never notified of his death or given his body so they could perform a burial, the lawsuit notes.

Although the CIA has officially admitted to having waterboarded only three individuals—Abdul al-Rahim al-Nashiri, Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed—the charges detail torture methods and abuse which can essentially be described as the same thing. Ben Soud, held by the CIA in a number of US prison black sites in Afghanistan and Libya from 2003 to 2011, was repeatedly “strapped to a wooden board that could spin around 360 degrees… with a hood over his head covering his nose and mouth. While strapped to the board with his head lower than his feet, his interrogators poured buckets of cold water [over] him” while threatening to drown him.

“You can’t sleep, you can’t eat, you can’t smell,” says Salim of his ordeal, in a video interview published on the ACLU website, adding, “Flashbacks come anytime, so much they make you crazy.”

Jessen and Mitchell’s methods first became public knowledge with the exposure of photographs depicting torture at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in 2004, controlled by the US military in the wake of the invasion of that country in 2003. At the time, the scandal forced the US government to place a moratorium on the practices, only later continuing them when the American Psychological Association, in consultation with the Bush administration, stepped in to provide the program a veneer of legality so that it could continue unhindered.

During 2005, the two formed Mitchell and Jessen Associates, a company providing “operational psychologists, debriefers, and security personnel at CIA detention sites,” allowing them to draw $81 million from the federal government throughout the life of their contract. While President Barack Obama officially ended the program upon coming to office in 2008 [sic; 2009], the US government continued to pay millions of dollars in legal fees for Mitchell and Jessen until 2012.

Despite the severity of the charges brought forth, the lawsuit only demands payment for legal costs, punitive and exemplary damages of an amount “to be proven” and compensation payments totaling $75,000 each.

“This case is about ensuring that the people behind the torture program are held accountable so history doesn’t repeat itself,” said ACLU attorney Steven Watt of the lawsuit, adding, “Impunity for torture sends the dangerous message to US and foreign officials that there will be no consequences for future abuses.” Such language implies that acting and former members of the Bush and Obama administrations could be held liable for similar charges in the future.

The lawsuit is based largely on findings of the US Senate Select Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA torture program, released in late 2014, and represents the first and thus far only lawsuit to be brought against collaborators in the US torture program based upon documented government evidence. While initially reacting with outrage to the highly redacted revelations of US criminality, the US political establishment has halted any public discussion of the highly explosive content of the Senate report. Less than a year after its release, no one, including members of the Senate committee itself, is seeking to revisit the subject.

The author also recommends:

The CIA torture report and the crisis of legitimacy in the United States
[08 December 2014]

What is in the Senate Intelligence Committee Report on CIA torture
[16 December 2014]

American Psychological Association played critical role in CIA torture program
[01 May 2015]

Bahrain dictatorship’s genital torture of teenager

Khalil Al-Saffar, before and after torture

From AhlulBayt news agency in Britain:

Bahraini boy stripped of his clothes & beaten on his genitals

October 4, 2015 – 9:57 AM

The European-Bahraini Organization for Human Rights (EBOHR) said that it received information stating that detainee Khalil Ibrahim Al-Saffar, who suffers from a cerebral laceration, is being tortured in the Criminal Investigation Department.

EBOHR explained in a statement issued on Wednesday (September 23, 2015) that “we received information about the torture detainee Khalil Al-Saffar is being subjected to in the Criminal Investigation Department. He was stripped of his clothes, beaten on his genitals, beaten by batons and plastic cables on his body parts until he fainted and was transferred to the Al-Qala’a hospital.”

The organization further stated that “Khalil was returned to the Criminal Investigation Department after that and was tortured more than once,” adding that “he is being tortured 3 times a day for more than an hour and a half. He is put inside a small cold room that causes him headaches.”

EBOHR published medical reports about Al-Saffar’s cerebral laceration. He underwent a bone grafting surgery on March 16, 2012 and needed another surgery on June 2012. He underwent a third surgery during which they put a plastic piece in his skull to replace the broken one.

Al-Saffar still suffers from bouts of cramps which require him to take medication continuously.

The organization expressed its deep concern about what Al-Saffar is being exposed to and demanded the United States, Britain, United Nations and international human rights organizations to pressure the Bahraini government into releasing him. Al-Saffar was arrested on September 15, 2015, after civilian forces backed by security forces raided his home in Bilad Al-Qadeem.

His family said that he was taken to the Interior Ministry bus after his home was searched and his mobile phone was confiscated. After his mother asked about the reason behind her son’s arrest, one of the civilians told the family that they will interrogate him for an hour and then release him. No one knows anything about him since more than 8 days ago.

A human rights NGO run by Irish lawyers has submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) that Ireland may be in breach of international law, owing to the Irish Medical Council’s (IMC) decision last December to grant RCSI-Medical University in Bahrain (RCSI-MUB) accreditation. This came amid alleged human rights abuses, including the torture of injured pro-demonstrators and medics who treated them, by the Gulf state’s ruling regime within the training hospitals it uses: here.

Bahraini authorities should immediately release the unjustly imprisoned political opposition leaders Ibrahim Sharif and Sheikh Ali Salman: here.

Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today called on the U.S. Embassy in Manama to send observers to the trial against opposition leader Ebrahim Sharif, and to publicly state whether the trial meets international legal standards. Sharif, a leader of the peaceful opposition group Waad, is currently on trial in Bahrain for comments made during a speech calling for reform. The next hearing is scheduled for Monday, October 12: here.

Bahrain: Ongoing judicial harassment against Ms. Zainab Al-Khawaja: here.

15,000 US citizens sign bill urging the congress to stop arms sales to Bahrain: here.

Bahrain human rights violations update

This video says about itself:

Dr. Rula Al-Saffar: “Jaw Prison holds over 3000 detainees”

18 February 2014

Dr. Rula Al-Saffar also presented some powerful statistics and case studies, focusing more specifically on the conditions of political prisoners. She retold the stories of Talib Ali, a 15 year old with a 50 year conviction sentence, and Dr. Ali-Ekri, the only specialized paediatrics surgeon in Bahrain who is facing a 5 year sentence simply for treating patients of the uprising. Of the largest prison in Bahrain — Jaw prison — she described how the maximization of the prison’s 1600 people capacity is being overlooked to the extent where the prison now holds over 3000 detainees, with up to 12 inmates having to share cells built for 3-4 people.


A Bahraini doctor — tortured and imprisoned for treating patients — pleads to the US for help

Ali Al Ekri

Sep 29, 2015 @ 12:00 PM

JAW PRISON, Bahrain — I’m in prison in Bahrain, one of 20 medics sentenced to jail by a military court four years ago this month after we had treated injured protestors during the demonstrations for reform in early 2011.

We were tortured and forced to confess to crimes we hadn’t committed. I’m a consultant orthopedic pediatric surgeon. I trained in Ireland. I was operating on a child on March 17, 2011 when soldiers came to the theater to arrest me. It was a Thursday afternoon.

They took me to a military facility where I was beaten and tortured. I lost consciousness several times. I was sexually molested and forced to eat feces. After three weeks of being blindfolded and handcuffed I was forced to sign a confession I hadn’t even read, to crimes I hadn’t done. I wasn’t allowed to see a lawyer for any of that time.

Over 50 medics were arrested and tortured and 20 of us were given a mass trial in a military court. We were all found guilty on charges including ludicrous things like stockpiling weapons and trying to overthrow the government. The public prosecution claimed I was somehow the medics’ ringleader. Our verdicts were announced in September 2011.

I was originally given 15 years, later reduced to five years after an appeal in an unfair civilian court. The US-based organization Human Right First was in the appeals court and reported how the judge refused to hear evidence about my torture or the torture of my colleagues.

At the time the United States government said it was “deeply disturbed” about what had happened to us. The State Department had sent observers to our trials, and they saw for themselves how unfair the [hearings] were.

American officials can’t claim they didn’t know the truth about what happened to us. [The US government] knows no one in the Bahrain military has been brought to account for the torture.

The rest of the medics tried with me have now all been released from jail, but the prisons here are still full of political dissidents.

Prison life is hard. Jaw Prison, where I am, is horribly overcrowded already and more inmates are arriving every week and the unrest continues. In March mass disturbances broke out and many prisoners were attacked. With hundreds of others, I was forced to sleep outside in a tent for months afterwards. There are so many in jail here who aren’t allowed access to the medical treatment they need.

Sometimes it seems a long time to the end of my sentence. I’m losing the skills I need to do my job, to perform surgery on children. It’s not something you can just pick up easily again after not doing it for years. There are young patients who need my skills, and who want me to continue treating them.

The State Department says Bahrain has made “meaningful progress on human rights.” I can see all around me, every day, how wrong that is. I see hundreds of people who shouldn’t be in prison, many of them have been tortured, none of them given a fair trial.

Four years ago I treated injured protestors and told the media the truth about what was happening in Bahrain. I don’t regret doing my duty as a medic, but I’m disappointed Washington hasn’t done its duty in standing up for us.

Dr. Ali Al Ekri is a consultant surgeon who trained at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. He was among dozens of health professionals arrested in Bahrain in 2011. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison by Bahrain’s security court for alleged involvement in the country’s uprisings. The sentence was later reduced to 5 years.

On September 15, Jaafar Al-Hasabi, a Bahraini citizen granted asylum in the United Kingdom, filed a criminal complaint in Switzerland against Bahrain’s attorney general, Ali Bin Fadhul Al-Buainain. Al-Hasabi says he was held in incommunicado detention in Bahrain, where he was subjected to torture, including electric shocks. The complaint alleges that the Bahraini Public Prosecution Office, headed by Al-Buainain, authorized his detention twice, despite the United Nations’ expressed concerns: here.

A Bahraini public relations offensive has signed up for help from an organisation described as a ‘pro-Israel propaganda outfit’. The revelation is likely to prove controversial in Bahrain, which does not formally recognise Israel and where popular support for the Palestinian cause is very high. See more here.

Bahrain continues to repress dissidents as US dithers. Washington arms Gulf monarchy despite human rights violations: here.

Bahrain’s uprising: resistance and repression in the Gulf: here.