Ebrahim Sharif’s account of his arrest, torture, and a visit by the National Institute of Human Rights
2 August 2011
The following three articles were written by Ebrahim Sharif (originally in Arabic, translated by his family) from inside Grain Prison, concerning his arrest, torture, and the visit of the National Institute of Human Rights.
The Arrest of Ebrahim Sharif
By Ebrahim Sharif
The arrest took place around 1:45 AM on the morning of Thursday, March 17th, 2011 when the doorbell rang. I went outside with my wife and found a group of masked investigators in addition to armed and masked policemen. They were accompanied by a National Security officer who was unarmed and dressed in civilian clothing. The officer asked me to open the front gate of the garden, and I asked him if he had an arrest warrant. He answered by saying no arrest warrant is required in the case of “National Security”. I opened the door and was arrested and placed in a civilian car where I was handcuffed and blindfolded. My house was not searched. Three people witnessed my arrest: My wife, Farida Ghulam, my neighbour, Mohammed Al Zeera, and his wife, Aisha Ghuloom. The car arrived at a building where I was taken to a room for a medical check up, after which some pictures of me were taken. I was blindfolded during the entire process except during the photographic session.
Next, I was taken out of the building, where my blindfolds were suddenly removed and I found myself surrounded by many masked men that pushed me around and cursed at me with swears such as “Your mother’s pussy”, “bastard”, and other degrading swear words. I was then blindfolded again and put into a van with other people, including Mr. Hassan Mushaima, who I recognized when I heard the security men call his name as they placed him into the van.
We later arrived to “Grein” prison at around 5 AM and were escorted out of the van. We stood in an area blindfolded as authorities and wardens directed threats and profanity at us. I heard them also curse at Mr. Hassan Mushaima, saying phrases such as “To hell with you and your 12 imams”. Afterwards, we were taken to one of the rooms where we were stripped from our clothes and then asked to wear the clothes again after removing our watches, belts, shoes, and eyeglasses. I was then taken to a cell. The treatment was poor and rough the entire time, with no shortage of insults, curses, threats and light beatings.
I was put in building No. (4) along with five other prisoners. Sheikh Saeed Al-Nouri was put in cell number (1). Dr. Abdul Jalil Singace was put in cell number (2), Ibrahim Sharif in cell number (3), Sheikh Abdul Hadi Almukhaidher in cell number (4) and Alhurr Youssef Alsumaikh in cell number (5).
After less than an hour I was taken blindfolded to an office where an officer told me that he had met me previously, in the nineties in the State of Kuwait, and asked me if I knew where I was. I told him I do not know, he said, “You are in a place outside Bahrain,” and asked me to cooperate with him and place my hands in the King’s hands and give up my earlier positions. I told him, “My hands are in the king’s hands, but in my own way which is the way of reform,” and I added that the conversation with him could not be sustained without talking face to face by removing my blindfold so that I could explain my point of view and exchange opinions. We did not reach a result and I was taken back to the cell.
By Ebrahim Sharif
That same evening of the arrest the torture sessions began… at first, cold water was poured on my bed, mattress, pillows, blanket, and myself while the air conditioning was running. The room was cold and sleep was impossible especially with all the water the mattress, pillows, and blankets had absorbed. Afterwards, a group of around 5-6 masked men barged into the room and asked me to stand in a corner where they took shifts slapping, boxing, and kicking me, in addition to cursing me. They asked me to repeat after them praises for the King and especially the Prime Minister. The same torture cycle continued for a week where they’d torture and hit me twice or three times daily as well as pour water on my mattress, blanket and myself. And since the cells were all close to one another, I was able to hear the screams of other detainees and the orders and profanity of the wardens.
No tools were used for torture except on 3 or 4 occasions, where a hose was used. The hose beatings were not used to extract specific confessions, but were used as a form of punishment and revenge, as well as to prepare the detainee for the interrogation process that did not start until 4 to 5 days after the arrest.
Initially, I was asked to write all I knew about the February 14th movement and my role in it. After two days, I was investigated by an investigator while I was blindfolded. The torture was continuous for almost two months and continued until a little before the court hearings, while the profanity and cursing continued until the month of June.
On the 13th day of my arrest, the Military Prosecution wanted to investigate me and record my sayings without the presence of a lawyer, so I refused. I later got a lawyer and submitted my sayings and told the prosecution that I was beaten the day before and asked for judiciary protection. I was reassured that beatings are not allowed and they will make sure that I will not be beaten or cursed at. However, the next day I was beaten twice as a result of my complaint, once in the morning from one of the military employees, and once in the evening by two masked men who I presume were from the National Guard. I was threatened to be beaten more severely than I was that day if I complained again. Additionally, the torture included standing for several hours with my hands stretched in the air.
On the 52nd day of the arrest we were notified of a trial for us that was to begin the next day. Before midnight, a lieutenant from the army came to us and presented a case file for case 124 of the year 2011, where I was listed as the fifth defendant accused of toppling the regime and calling for a republic. It’s important to note that we were not allowed to meet our lawyers until the day of the court hearing and despite my repetitive demands, we were only able to meet the lawyers for 15 minutes after each hearing and could not receive any copies of the case files. We also were not given any pens or papers to contribute to our defense.
The Quick Visit of the National Institute for Human Rights
By Ebrahim Sharif
Date of visit: Thursday, July 14th at 12 in the afternoon. Place: Building (1) in Grein prison where the 14 defendants of the alleged overthrowing of the regime by force case were held at. A committee of the National Institute for Human Rights came to visit. The committee was made up of 4 individuals: Issa Al Khayat, president of the association, Ahmed Al Farhan, the Secretary General, Rabab Al Arrayedh and Ali Al Aradi. The newspapers disclosed the news of the visit without any specifics a few days after the visit took place. The committee was accompanied by military officers from the military prosecution, amongst them was the Military Prosecutor, Yousif Flaifel, and the Prison Director, Basil Seyadi.
12 of the detainees were praying when the committee arrived, but the committee came across two of the detainees in the hallway. One of them was Ebrahim Sharif, Secretary General of the National Democratic Action Society (better known as WAAD). The members of the committee asked Ebrahim Sharif about the general atmosphere in the jail and he responded that treatment was better lately (but only lately), and that the prisoners have faced all kinds of torture, ill-treatment, and profanity for the past three months (since the arrest of March 17th). Then Sharif asked them furiously about the committee’s whereabouts in the past few months and why they have only visited now after the torture and ill-treatment had stopped. He asked them their position on what happened. The committee members showed signs of nervousness when one member replied that the society has been monitoring the situation and has issued statements and is in the process of sending a report to the King. The committee then left the building quickly after they took some photos which included the prisoners praying together without asking the prisoners for their permission. One member also asked Mr. Sharif who was in charge of the prison in the past few months and Mr. Sharif replied that he believed that it was the National Security and also the Military Intelligence. The committee only asked a few questions with the presence of a military staff from the defense forces and did not respect the privacy that the professional standards expect of a committee investigating into the treatment of prisoners and prisons.
We noticed that a few weeks prior to the visit, there was a considerable and gradual improvement in the conditions of the prison. Firstly, solitary confinement was gradually ended by placing two detainees in one cell and then opening the cells to one another all day. We were allowed to leave to an outside area for two hours and eat meals from the cafeteria where we could watch the television. Also, the visitation time for family lasted longer starting from the 12th of July and we were given daily newspapers (except for Al Wasat newspaper). Additionally, pictures of the political leaders were removed from the cells (they were initially placed after a month of our arrest to humiliate the prisoners and make them repeat praises to the leadership or face harsh beatings and punishment). We also all got new air conditioning units. All of these improvements were an indication of future predicted visits by international or local investigation committees.