Bahrain: Rihanna Al-Mosawi, an example of violations practiced against women as a punishment for claiming their legitimate rights
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses it concern due to the continued targeting of women for demanding their legitimate rights.
On Tuesday, 11 July 2013, the Fourth Criminal Court held its first session in the case of the 14 February Coalition cell where a group of political, human rights and field activists are accused. They are 49 in total, in including one woman, who is the detainee Rihanna Abdulla Al-Mosawi (38 years old). The Bahrain Center for Human Rights issued a statement clarifying the legal breaches and violations practiced against the detainees and which violated their right in getting a public fair trial. Rihanna started a hunger strike two days ago in protest of her ill-treatment.
The detainee Rihanna Al-Mosawi, and for the first time, revealed to the Judge Ali Al-Dhahrani herself that she was stripped off her clothes twice while she was being interrogated at Riffa police station, however, the Judge merely noted down the complaint as a ‘morally improper treatment’. Al-Mosawi’s family stated that she had decided to end the silence phase after being shocked by the developments of the Ministry of Interior. After being accused of assembling and questioning her about that, the case turned into plotting a terrorist bombing that targets the Bahrain International Circuit for Formula One building, then it turned into contributing in establishing an organization that aims at disrupting the provisions of the Constitution which is the 14 February Coalition. The lawyer Manar Makki mentioned that those present at Court cried when they heard Rihanna speak about the violations she faced, especially being interrogating by masked men and reaching up to stripping her off her clothes and threatening her with rape.
Despite the unanimity of the members of defence that the detainees and defendants in the 14 February Coalition organization were subjected to physical and mental torture, starting from the moment and manner of arrest and all the way up to the trial’s lack of the most basic human rights procedures which guarantees receiving a fair and public trial, the Ministry of Interior refused to admit that and denied that Rihanna was subjected to torture and a degrading treatment. The Ministry of Interior said in a statement, ‘the mentioned allegations are incorrect and have no basis of credibility’. The Ministry of Interior claimed in its statement that the detainee had received several visits from her family and lawyers, ‘and none of them indicated at that time any sayings or statements related to the allegations that have been promoted on social media networks’. The Ministry of Interior, in its statement, neglected that these allegations have been made by the detainee directly in front of Court.
One of the members of defence of the 14 February cell defendants accused the Ministry of Interior of lying in its statement relating to Rihanna Al-Mosawi. Where he said in his personal account on Twitter in response to the Assistant Undersecretary of the Ministry of Interior that, ‘what the Undersecretary does not know is that the Public Prosecution did not agree to bringing Mrs Rihanna Al-Musawi to assign a lawyer, and therefore the lawyer cannot request a visit to the detainee without the power of an attorney, and this is proof of the Assistant Undersecretary’s lie’. He added that what Rihanna had said before Court is documented in the torture complaint report, whose result was later unknown, and that the detainee Rihanna mentioned what had happened to her regarding stripping her off her clothes, before the Renewal Judge (20 June) as well, and the lawyers’ commitment to silence during the past period is merely a commitment to the principle of professionalism contrary to the violation committed by the Public Prosecution of the principle of confidentiality of the investigation by publishing information about the defendants in media in collaboration with the judicial panels and Bahrain TV, although the investigation in the torture allegation had not finished and no decision to transfer the case to a competent court was issued’.
Since 18 July 2013, Rihanna started a hunger strike in protest of the ill-treatment she has been subjected to at the detention center since she spoke of abuses at court. She informed the lawyer in a phone call that she is facing restrictions on access to phone calls and visits, as well as the type of food she needs. She has noticed the change in treatment immediately after her statement at court on 11 July 2013, and she has complained to the prison administration with no response; thus she decided to go in the hunger strike.
The Acting President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Maryam Al-Khawaja, condemned the Ministry of Interior’s inclination toward denying and lying about the statements made by the detainee Rihanna before Court regarding the violations she faced, instead of initiating a serious investigation in the incident that guarantees the detainee’s right.
The Head of Documentation and Monitoring at the BCHR, Sayed Yousif Al-Muhafda considered that stripping Mrs Al-Musawi off her clothes during interrogation at Riffa police station is conclusive evidence of what activists speak of regarding the systematic torture and the spread of impunity sponsored and endorsed by the regime. In a comment regarding the Ministry of Interior’s statement which denied Al-Musawi’s statement, Al-Muhafda said that the statement reflects the state of weakness, tension and reaction that the regime and its leaders are going through.
The Ministry of Interior’s statement is considered a bypass of the role of the judiciary in the investigation in the allegations stated by the detainee before Court, where the Ministry of Interior proceeded to discredit the allegations while the Court, who listened to her, was supposed to investigate it, and this is an indication of the absence of the elements of fair trials in Bahrain.
This is not the first time where women in Bahrain are arrested and have their rights violated, the Authorities had previously arrested more than 240 women in various cases revolving around their inherent right to freedom of expression and peacefully demanding their rights. Also imprisoned now are several detained women, among them Zainab Al-Khawaja, Siddiqa Al-Basri, Nafeesa Al-Asfoor, in addition to Rihanna Al-Musawi, while others wait for trials in malicious and fabricated cases.
Based on the above, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights demands:
- the immediate and unconditional release of Rihanna Al-Musawi;
- initiating a serious investigation in the torture complaints presented by Mrs Rihanna Al-Musawi;
- holding accountable the violators who tortured Rihanna Al-Musawi and bringing them to trial;
- putting an end to the targeting of women and arresting them as revenge of their activity and demanding their rights, and to release the detained women.