06 July 2012

(BCHR) - For the first time since their arrest in March 2011, the 13 leading opposition activists who have been sentenced for up to life by the military court on fabricated charges of “attempting to overthrow the regime”, have been given a chance to speak at the court. Over 5 long hearing sessions, between 22 May 2012 until 19 June 2012, the higher court of appeal chaired by consular Adnan AlShamsi has listened to the testimonies of the 13 activists who were targeted on background of their political and human rights activism as well as their participation in the February 14 2011 uprising. The activists have described details of the torture inflicted upon them to force confessions, and they have named before the court the officials involved in torturing them including the son of the king, Nasser Bin Hamad.

On June 5 2012, Cleric and activist Abdulla AlMahroos told the higher court of appeal that, Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa has tortured and beaten me in the building of the National Security apparatus during my arrest and I had seen him with my own eyes when he hit me on my face with his hand and also with a black hose while shouting at me and saying (who are you to want to overthrow the regime, we will bury you in the ground and you will never be heard of again, you and your followers).” AlMahroos added: “The head of the National Security Apparatus Khalifa bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, along with his gang, have tortured me and I saw him with my own eyes in the building of the National Security Apparatus several times during the torture”.

On 19 June 2012, Bahraini–Swedish Citizen Mohamed Habib Al Meqdad told the higher court of appeal the names of 6 officials responsible for torturing him at custody, including Nasser Bin Hamad. In his testimony he said, “On the second day of my detention and specifically on 2 April 2011 in the prison of the fort [Ministry of Interior HQ] controlled by the National Security Agency, which is underground, and during my interrogation I was blindfolded and handcuffed, he came to me [Nasser Bin Hamad] and asked me: Do you know me? I said no because I was blindfolded, and he said to me: “Nothing separated you and me but the wall, during the march to the Safriya palace”, then he repeated the question: Do you know me? I said: no. Because I did not expect that one of the royal family “Nasser” to be with the torturers, he said to me: Prince Nasser is talking to you. The story is just about to begin, he asked me: what were you saying on the Safriya march? I told him some of the chants, he replied: you said ‘Down, down …’ and asked me to complete the sentence. And when I said that people were chanting “Down …” then he started to torture and kick me on the right side of my head. I fell on the ground repeatedly. He kept hitting me over and over again and asked the torturer to join him, and whenever I fall down, they made me stand again and beat me over and over until I fall down and I had a view and saw by my own eyes that he was Nasser Bin Hamad – son of the king – who’s torturing me and guiding torturers to do the same.”

On June 12 2012, the 13 activists submitted a list of 13 individuals involved in torturing them and have called the court to hold these people accountable for their actions. Among the named torturers are names that have been repeated over the past years in testimonies of torture victims, as well as in reports of human rights organizations, including the 2010 report of HRW “Torture Redux”. This includes officers Badr Ibrahim al-Ghaith and Yousif Elmana’ai. This is not the first time the name of the son of the king is mentioned in testimonies of torture victims. Last August, BCHR has reported on other testimonies that involved Nasser as well as other members of the royal family, however, according to the center’s information, no investigation has started into those allegations.

The court has heard details of the torture of the 13 activists, which included (but was not limited to) electric shocks, dunking cold water on the victims, sleep deprivation, beatings, psychological torture and solitary confinement over prolonged periods of time. The torture led to the victims having several chronic health problems including internal bleeding, lowered vision, loss of sensation in the hands and chronic leg pain causing one of the victims to have difficulty standing.

Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls for the immediate release of the activists who are solely held for exercising their legitimate rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. BCHR calls on the Bahraini court to immediately start investigations into these allegations and hold accountable all those involved in torture regardless of their position. BCHR also warns against any kind of retribution against the activists who have made the allegations against the son of the king.

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The 13 opposition activists are as follows:

1-Abdulwahab Hussain ( life sentence imprisonment) 2-Ebrahim Sharif ( 5 Years imprisonment) 3-Hassan Mushaima( life sentence imprisonment) 4-Abdulhadi Al Khawaja ( life sentence imprisonment) 5-Abduljalil Al Singace.( life sentence imprisonment) 6-Mohammed Habib Al Miqdad ( life sentence imprisonment) 7-Saeed Mirza AlNouri ( life sentence imprisonment) 8- Abduljalil Al Miqdad ( life sentence imprisonment) 09-Abdullah Isa Al Mahroos.( 5 years imprisonment) 10-Salah Hubail Al Khawaj.( 5 years imprisonment) 11-Mohammed Hassan Jawad.( 15 years imprisonment) 12-Mohammed Ali Ismael. ( 15 years imprisonment)) 13-Abdul Hadi AlMukhodher ( 15 years imprisonment)