Bahrain: Continuous harassment and targeting of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja's family members
22 Jan 2013
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its grave concern about the constant targeting and harassment of families of human rights defenders and victims of extrajudicial killings. The latest case was the summoning of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja's son-in-law, Hussain Ahmed (22 years old), to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). Hussain Ahmed, a former torture victim, received a summon for interrogation on Sunday 13th January 2013. Hussain Ahmed went with lawyer Abdullah Zainuddein to the CID on Monday 14th Jan 2013. Ahmed was taken into office 99 around 12pm, and interrogated by someone referred to as "Abu Faisal". The lawyer was not allowed into the room during the interrogation. During the interrogation, "Abu Faisal" threatened Hussain Ahmed that they are monitoring him. He reportedly told Ahmed:
"This time we brought you in a respectful manner, next time you know how we can bring you in. If you go into hiding we'll find you. Instead of the 6 months you spent in prison, this time you will spend 6 years."
Hussain Ahmed was interrogated about his work as a graphic designer, and told that they know that he designs graphics about victims of extrajudicial killings. The fact that he is the son-in-law of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja was brought up in during the interrogation. The interrogator also made several sectarian insults. "Abu Faisal" reportedly told Hussain Ahmed:
"This time I'm being good to you, but I want you to know that when I put on my black mask they call me the beast. When I deal with you next time I will have you screaming torturer, torturer".
Hussain Ahmed was arrested on the 9th of April 2011 along with Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and Wafi Al-Majed, Al-Khawaja's other son-in-law. Ahmed was subjected to severe torture; physical, psychological and sexual. Amongst the types of torture he was subjected to:
1. forced standing for 4 days; during which he was beaten on the back with a hose
2. beaten with open metal handcuffson his back
3. had cold water thrown on him after being kept in a extremely cold room
4. pulled from wrists which caused one of his wrists to be dislocated
5. head beaten against a wall repeatedly
6. inserting a hose into the anus
7. threatened to have his mother and sisters brought in
8. verbal abuse; especially sectarian
9. allowed only one minute to use the bathroom, three minutes for showers; removed forcefully if he takes longer
10. not allowed clothes, for two months wearing the same clothes
11. told he would be forced to testify falsely against his father-in-law, Abdul-Hadi Al-Khawaja, to say that Al-Khawaja resisted arrested. Asked what he would say, if he didn't say what he was told he would get severely beaten.
Hussain Ahmed was subjected to enforced disappearance for more than two months after his arrest, and subjected to an unfair trial on the charges of: disseminating false information, inciting hatred against the regime and illegal gathering. He was sentenced to 6 months imprisonment. Abdul-hadi Al-Khawaja's family have been the targets of constant harassment for many years. Among the cases of harassment and targeting was the arrest of his two sons-in-law for being merely related to the family, and subjecting them to severe torture. Al-Khawaja's daughter, Zainab Al-Khawaja has been arrested numerous times, beaten, and shot in the leg. Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja's wife, Khadija Al-Mousawi, was sacked from her 10 year job, and his daughter Batool continues to be denied employment in the public health sector in Bahrain.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls on the United States, the United Kingdom, the UN and all other allies and international relations to put pressure on authorities in Bahrain to:
-End all forms of targeting and prosecution of relatives of political and human rights activists in Bahrain, and those affected be compensated for harassment.
-Take measures to ensure respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the right to privacy in all circumstances in conformity with international standards of human rights and international instruments ratified by Bahrain.
- Hold accountable all those involved in human rights violations, especially high ranking officials.