Bahrain: Violent Methods of Arrest Continue; Case of Munira Sayed Habib
17 Dec 2012
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights followed with great concern the details of the arrest of the Bahraini citizen Munira Sayed Habib - 27 years old - who was reportedly arrested in a violent way in the early morning hours – 3 am - on Wednesday, 28 November 2012, when her house was raided in Al-Ghuraifa. Her home was raided by groups of special security forces backed with armed and masked civilians. Her detention continued until 1 December 2012 before being released.
The Monitoring Committee of BCHR met Munira Sayed Habib after her release by the Public Prosecution, to determine the merits of her detention, its causes and the charges against her. The Monitoring Committee recorded a number of violations committed by the security forces and their inhumane manner of detention which continues since the beginning of the mass protests in Bahrain on 14th February 2011. Despite numerous promises by the heads of the Bahraini authorities that civilians will not be targeted because of practicing their rights; systematic violations and arbitrary arrest or detention because of expression of opinion and peaceful assembly, which are guaranteed by all the local laws and international conventions, continue.
The investigation undertaken by Bahrain Center for Human Rights and which documented the case of the detainee Munira Sayed Habib included the following:
Damage during the house raid, details of the arrest:
The arrest occurred violently and in the early morning hours, when a large number of security forces backed by armed civilian militias raided the Munira Sayed Habib’s home. The security men together with masked civilians ransacked the contents of her home after they they broke into the house by force. In addition, a number of computers and mobile phones were confiscated from the house. This systematic method of arrest and entrance into people’s homes during the hours of dawn was described in the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry reports; and violates the local laws as well as international human rights covenants.
Solitary confinement and the early hours of investigation:
Since the early morning hours Munira Sayed Habib was subjected to cruel and degrading treatment, and there was reticence on the place of her detention and with whom she was withheld. Munira Sayed Habib was reportedly left alone in a small and extremely cold room, and banned from contact with the outside world, her lawyer and her family who were in the Criminal Investigations Department looking for her. She was kept in total isolation for approximately nine hours, after which she was interrogated by male police officers without the presence of female police and whom Munira could not identify. She was not informed of the charges against her, and she was not allowed to call her lawyer. The police officers proceeded in their interrogation asking questions relating to personal, religious and political matters. The interrogation reportedly continued until the evening after which she was transferred from the Criminal Investigations Department to the women's prison in Isa Town and kept in solitary confinement. She was then transferred back to the Criminal Investigations Department and placed in the same room as that morning, after which she was interrogated again in the same way as the first time. Munira Sayed Habib was then transferred to the General Prosecution, which ordered her release after being charged with "participating in a demonstration, and monitoring the way for demonstrators".
Immediately after Munira’s release, people gathered to welcome her, and were attacked by security forces who used tear gases in order to disperse them, and they shot teargas inside one of the women's religious buildings “matam”.
Based on the above, Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls on the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Nations and all other allies and international institutions to put pressure on the Bahraini authorities to:
- Immediately drop all charges against Munira Sayed Habib because they are to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. - Immediately stop the continuous violent methods of dawn raids on houses that violate the rights of citizens, which causes constant terror amongst residents in certain areas in anticipation of house raids. - Launch an independent investigation regarding the unlawful raid on Munira Sayed Habib’s home and all other homes subjected to similar raids. - Stop violating citizen’s right to freedom of assembly, peaceful demonstration, and freedom of expression guaranteed by domestic law and international conventions ratified by Bahrain.