In a report on Wednesday, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) said that human rights violations against female activists and human rights defenders have increased since 2017, when Bahrain’s domestic spy service, the National Security Agency, was reinstated.
The 135-page report — titled Breaking the Silence: Bahraini Women Political Prisoners Expose Systemic Abuses — revealed that female political prisoners in Bahrain have been subjected to abuse at every stage of the criminal procedure, including illegal arrests, physical, sexual and psychological torture to extract confessions, sham trials and inhuman prison conditions.
Since early 2017, the groups have been conducting interviews with nine women, their relatives or their lawyers, and when available, have analyzed their legal documents.
Seven experts from organizations including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the World Organization Against Torture, have provided commentary throughout the report.
The female activists said that, following unlawful arrests – including three cases of enforced disappearance – they endured coercive interrogations without legal representation. According to the report, coerced confessions were used to convict at least six of the women in sham trials.
While all the women said that throughout the process, officials threatened them with rape or death. Half of them said they were physically assaulted with beatings, kicks and punches.
The report said that the political prisoners were subjected to other forms of ill-treatment, including prolonged solitary confinement, forced standing, and being held in cold or dark rooms in painful.
“The torture started from the first moment in the car by masked, armed, civilian-clothed men,” said Medina Ali, one of the women.
“I was blindfolded and tortured with violent beatings aimed at the face and hitting my head against the wall violently,” she said.
The report exposes the complicity of the UK and US governments, which continue to supply arms, training and political support to the Bahraini regime in flagrant disregard of international human rights concerns.
These abuses continue uninvestigated as oversight bodies trained with funding from the UK and US governments are complicit and fail to hold the perpetrators accountable, said the report.
ADHRB and BIRD called on the Al Khalifah regime to allow access to the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as well as the Special Rapporteur on violence against women.
They said that Bahraini authorities need to conduct a “timely, transparent and thorough investigation into allegations of arbitrary arrests, coercive interrogation tactics and physical and sexual assault, ensuring that all responsible officers are held accountable.”
Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the country in mid-February 2011.
They are demanding that the Al Khalifah regime relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.
Manama has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist Bahrain in its crackdown.
Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown.
On March 5, 2017, Bahrain’s parliament approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals in a measure blasted by human rights campaigners as being tantamount to imposition of an undeclared martial law countrywide.
Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah ratified the constitutional amendment on April 3 last year.