Mahazza Nights: Undeclared State of Emergency and Sweeping Violations
30 November 2012
Since November 7th, 2012, an undeclared siege has been imposed around Mahazza, one of the Sitra island villages south of the Bahraini capital of Manama. Police forces and civilian militias, accompanied by National Guards in armored vehicles, have been deployed at the main entrances to the village to erect checkpoints, storm several houses without search warrants while arresting scores of citizens without arrest warrants in semi-marshal law situation. The blockade has resulted in the breaking-in of over 160 homes; during these incidents, citizens’ private property and money are confiscated without record or receipt. In addition to these violations, at least 25 people have been arrested (some of which were later released).
Members of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) paid several visits to Mhazzah area to explore the details of the siege, and conducted interviews with those whose houses were subjected to raids and abuses. Residents stated that a blockade similar to that of Aker area had been imposed on Mhazzah village since November 7th, yet the morning of Thursday, November 22, 2012 represented a shift in the nature of the occupation as the raids took place between the hours of 1:30am and 6:15am, where houses and residents were attacked and their privacy was inhumanly invaded without regard for the law.
Reasons for the Beginning of the Siege
The Ministry of Interior (MOI) announced through their official Twitter account on Wednesday, November 7, 2012 that a fire broke out in a car depot which belongs to one of the car dealerships in the Sitra area. Following this, a total siege was imposed around the village of Mhazzah, one house was broken into and Ahmed Abdullah Ibrahim – age 24 – was arrested. His family stated that a group of civilians, accompanied by police forces, surrounded and raided his brother’s house and arrested him without presenting an arrest warrant or providing details of the charges against him. Over a 15-day period, homes raids resulted in the forceful entry of 62 homes and the arrest of 9 people - as shown in the table below. These violations are in addition to the damages caused by terrorizing innocent people in their own homes and attacking their private property.
The Number of Raids Skyrocketed on the Morning of November 22nd, 2012
The Monitoring Team of the BCHR received the initiation news of the 1:30am Mhazzah blockade of Thursday, November 22, 2012, where police forces, backed by civilian militias, launched a series of random, wide-range break-ins which resulted in the storming of nearly 100 homes and the arrest of 14 people - 10 of which were released approximately twenty hours later - and broad damages to residents’ private properties
Residents’ Testimonials Concerning the Novemeber 22nd, 2012 Early Morning Raids:
The wife of fugitive Mr. Abdullah Alawi Abdullah stated that their house was brutally raided on 3 consecutive days. On Thursday 22 Nov 2012 at 4:30am, the door was broken before hooded civilians entered with a policemen who held a shotgun in addition to a photographer from the MOI. As they were leaving the house, a stun grenade was deliberately thrown in the home.
Mohammed Mansour Eid’s sister stated that she woke up to the sounds of breaking objects coming from a neighbor’s home. Loud knockings then sounded at her own door, and masked, civilian men entering her home, along with a MOI cameraman, asking for her brother Faisal who was not found at home. His brother Mohammed was taken as a hostage in order to pressure Faisal to turn himself in to the police. His mobile phone was confiscated as well. When several women tried to free Mohammed from the masked civilians, a stun grenade was fired in their direction. Mohammed’s sister emphasized the fact that in only one week, their house was subjected to six raids led by Officer Yousif Al-Mannaie.
Civilian militias also stormed the house of Abdul Hussain Jassim BuHssayen at 3:45am on November 22nd. When asked about the reason for the raid, they answered that they only were there to search the house, even though they did not have a search warrant. The search party made a mess in the home and broke the door of one of the rooms. BuHssayen’s wife confirmed seeing a civilian carrying an electrocution device and another carrying a video camera.
The sister of 27-year-old detainee Jalal Jassem Ahmed Farhan stated that masked civilians raided their house at 4am on the same day, during which time the women were harshly ordered to lock themselves in a room. They arrested Jalal, confiscated his 2 mobile phones, intimidated the children, and left without informing the family of the charge against Jalal.
At approximately 4am, civilian militias poured into the house of Ahmed Ali Ahmed (AlMoroor), conducted a thorough search, intimidated everyone and arrested 2 of his sons: Ali (aged 24) and Ibrahim (aged 42). Ali’s brother says they were banging strongly on Ali’s door shouting at him to come out, when he did they arrested him in his sleeping clothes without allowing him to change. The room was carefully searched for Ali’s mobile phones, and 25 envelopes were confiscated, without receipt or record, containing charity donations. Both Ali and Ibrahim were arrested.
Fadhel Matar Mohammed Fateel (aged 35), is an illiterate thyroid patient who does not leave his home. His house was raided at 5am, and his brother was asked to work with the police as an informer. Four doors inside the home were broken, a gas cylinder was opened, and the officers left with Fadhel in their custody.
Sayed Hussain Hashem Alawai (aged 16), is a fugitive from the police as he stands accused of trumped-up charges leveled against him by Officer Turki Al-Majid, who has been pursuing him for 3.5 years. Sayed’s mother said that their house has been raided five times during the period of the siege. On Thursday morning at 6am, masked civilians raided Sayed’s house, left his room in a state of disarray and confiscated some of his clothes. When his brother asked the civilians about the reason of taking his Hussain’s clothes one of them threatened to beat him.
Salah Jassim Al-Aradi is a 30-year old nurse originally from Muharraq but living in Mahazza. He just arrived from a trip to Haj where he worked a nurse for one of the Bahraini groups. His wife stated that police officers and masked civilians raided their home at 2am on Thursday morning. They handcuffed Salah and confiscated two phones belong to him without providing a record or receipt.
Police forces & masked civilians raided Yusuf Ali Mohamed Hubail’s home – aged 29 – at 4:00am. They broke the door and threatened to assault and arrest on one of his brothers. His Brother Mahdi stated that they do not know where Yusuf is, and that he does not come home because he knows that he would be arrested if he did. Yusuf’s wife stated that she does not come to the house and has not see her husband for a long time. When asked her about the situation in Mahazza she stated that she was very scared, and that it was like living in a state of emergency.