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Torture and Trials, “When he was recovering from the operation they tortured him again,”

CONTACT: Jessica Rosenblum, Human Rights First,
C: 202-279-0005, W: 202-265-3000 | Jessica@rabinowitz-dorf.com
“When he was recovering from the operation they tortured him again,” Torture and Unfair Trial of Protesters in Bahrain
For Immediate Release: May 12, 2011

Manama, Bahrain— Human Rights First is gravely concerned at today’s unfair trial in Bahrain of 21 suspects involved in recent protests calling for greater respect for human rights and democracy in the island kingdom.

Human Rights First was refused entry at the courtroom door this morning despite assurances from the Bahraini authorities that human rights organizations and other observers would be admitted. “Relatives of the defendants who were permitted access told us they looked in bad physical and mental shape,” said Brian Dooley of Human Rights First. “Several were limping and others have suffered drastic weight loss. They have not had adequate time to consult their lawyers, and there are credible reports of their torture in custody.”

The 21 suspects before the Lower National Safety Court today include prominent human rights defenders and opposition leaders. They have been charged with various national security crimes, including “insulting the army,” “organizing and managing a terrorist group for the overthrow and the change of the country’s constitution and the royal rule,” and “seeking and correspond[ing] with a terrorist organization abroad working for a foreign country to conduct heinous acts.” Some of these charges carry the death penalty.

“The hearing today was conducted in a heavily militarized atmosphere,” said Dooley. “The court buildings were full of armed soldiers, some wearing black masks.” Leading human rights defender Abdulhadi Al Khawaja is among those charged. His wife and daughter Zeinab were allowed a 10-minute meeting with him on Sunday. Zeinab told Human Rights First that his face had been badly damaged with multiple fractures while in the custody of security forces. He had undergone a four-hour operation in the military hospital. “But when he was supposed to be recovering from the operation they tortured him again,” she said. …more