Thu Sep 16, 2010 1:41AM

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights has accused Manama of "torture crimes and sexual harassment" against detainees currently held in Bahraini jails.

Since August, Bahrain's Sunni-dominated government has arrested more than 250 Shias, accusing 23 of them of plotting a coup and inciting "violence, rioting and terrorism."

Bahrain has also arrested hundreds of activists, human rights defenders and opposition religious figures.

The BCHR says the detainees are being treated "inhumanely" and that even their basic rights are being denied.

The center also blames Bahraini authorities for torturing Shia clerics and stripping several human rights defenders off their clothes in order to humiliate them. The human rights center also reported that some of the detainees, among them Shia clerics, were tortured, mutilated and sexually harassed and abused inside their cells.

Some of the detainees were kept nude for long hours while being shackled and blindfolded.

Aqeel al-Sari, a Shia cleric, was taken to an interrogation room while being almost carried due to his inability to depend on himself because of a fracture in his right leg and swelling, bump and blackness in his left leg due to excessive torture such as being hanged by his legs (Falaqa), and his hands were also blackened while he complained from losing his ability to use them or feel with them.

Another deep wound was seen in the back of his head, as well as bruises and swellings in many parts of his body. Al-Sari also complained to the chief prosecutor that he had difficulty breathing, and was taken to the Military Hospital three times due to his critical health condition.

According to the Bahraini center, the detainees have suffered torture without informing their lawyers.

The government has also deprived the detainees of their jobs and public services, including medical, educational and housing services, provided by the state as part of its responsibility.

The BCHR has also expressed worries about the fate of those detainees who have not been brought to the Public Prosecution yet, although they were arrested more than 15 days ago. According to Bahraini Anti-Terrorism Law, detainees must be refered to the Public Prosecution within 15 days.

HM/MT/MGH

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