19 Aug, 2013

Bahrain: Fatima AlKhawaja, from Injured Victim to Accused Defendent

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses its grave concern about the ongoing escalating crackdown led by the authorities in Bahrain against unarmed citizens, this time inside their homes. The regime forces attacked a family inside their home, injuring a sixteen-year-old girl with a pellet shotgun. They claimed to be chasing protesters.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) documented the testimonies of the family who stated that on the afternoon of Friday, 16th August 2013, security forces attacked their home in AlKawara village after the suppression of a peaceful sit in which was announced by the 14 February Youth Coalition. The father, Mansour AlKhawaja told the BCHR that masked security forces ordered his family to go inside their home within ten seconds, and when the family were not able to do so within the time told, they attacked those inside the house. They reportedly shot of teargas inside then approached the children, (siblings who are 8, 10 and 16 years old) threatening to kill them with the pellet shotgun. They then reportedly beat the children, including Noor Mansour AlKhawaja who is 8 years old and who was injured with a rubber bullet in her leg. On their way out, they shot one round of pellets in the courtyard of the house causing the injury of Fatima Mansour AlKhawaja, 16 years old, with several pellets in the abdomen; three of which pierced her stomach, while another two settled under her skin. Security forces then surrounded the AlKhawaja home for hours and reportedly videotaped the house from the inside in continuous violation of the family’s privacy. In addition, security forces also prevented anyone from going to the house including BCHR’s Said Yousif AlMuhafdah, Head of Documentation and Acting Vice President, who went there to document the what had happened. Security forces threatened AlMuhafdhah with arrest if he did not leave. https://twitter.com/SAIDYOUSIF/status/368439948648513536

Photo of Said Yousif AlMuhafdah being ordered to leave

Minutes after the attack on Fatima, an ambulance arrived to transfer her to the hospital, but due to the continuous militarization of hospitals in Bahrain, her mother refrained from transferring her to the hospital. Hours later, security forces finally agreed to leave if the whole family went to the central police station, which they did. The father insisted on filing a complaint despite several requests from the officer at the police station that he “not make a problem”. Around midnight the family was finally allowed to leave the police station, and Fatima Alkhawaja was transferred to Salmaniya Hospital, as her health condition deteriorated and she started to vomit blood. Doctors informed the family that they discovered three pellets which penetrated the abdomen, and Fatima had to be kept in the ICU for a period of more than five hours before being transferred to the treatment ward after her condition stabilized. (https://twitter.com/SAIDYOUSIF/status/368830852953677824)

Despite Fatima Alkhawaja’s health condition, Fatima’s mother informed the BCHR that a policewoman in civilian clothes was guarding Fatima’s hospital room since the morning of Saturday, August 17. Fatima's mother has stated that the police were periodically passing by Fatima's room and that they videotaped her.

The family was surprised on Sunday's afternoon August 18, 2013 with a phone call from the Central police station asking them to bring Fatima to the Public Prosecution to interrogate her on charges of illegal gathering and insulting the king. Fatima's aunt has stated on her social media account on Twitter that the case came in retaliation of Al-Khawaja family’s refusal to drop the case filed at the police station against the security forces. In the details of the incident, Suaad AlKhawaja stated that police called the father: "… asking him to bring in his daughter who is still lying in a hospital, on the grounds that there is a complaint submitted against her by a policeman. As it seems they are trying to make a bargain with the father in order to make him waive the complaint he filed against those who assaulted his family. One of the policemen has already asked him yesterday for waiver of the complaint, citing that his daughter's health condition was stable and to avoid what he called "problems". The father has refused to waive his right to complain”. Source: https://twitter.com/SuadAK

Based on the above, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) calls for:

  • An independent and impartial investigation into what took place which placed minors at risk and caused them injuries
  • Accountability for the police officers who attacked the AlKhawaja family
  • Compensation for Fatima AlKhawaja and her family for the caused psychological and physical damages
  • Immediately drop all trumped up charges against minor Fatima Alkhawaja
18 Aug, 2013

URGENT APPEAL: Nafeesa Al-Asfoor – Political Prisoner’s Health at Risk, Denied Adequate Medical

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) calls for the urgent intervention in the case of Nafeesa Al-Asfoor who has suspicious breast lumps and suffers from other diseases as well. She is being denied adequate medical care for her condition despite the several attempts of her family with the prison administration for her to receive medical attention.

Nafeesa AlAsfoor got arrested on the 20th of April 2013 with Rihanna AlMousawi after peacefully protesting at the F1 race with t-shirts and slogans that called for the freedom of an imprisoned human rights activist and a photographer. She was reportedly tortured to extract confessions, and was charged under the terrorism law for aiding in an attempt to plant a fake bomb at the F1 race when she was first arrested. (Read more: http://bahrainrights.hopto.org/en/node/5729)

According to the family Nafeesa AlAsfoor was checked for suspicious multiple breast lumps in the past which she travelled to Jordan for further treatment for and returned on the 15th of February 2011.  AlAsfoor has informed her family during visits and phone calls after a month of her arrest that she noticed the return of a suspicious breast lump upon self-examination in detention accompanied by pain.

Her husband made appointments for her at Salmaniya Hospital but the detention center refused to transfer her to hospital and has asked him instead to get an approval from the Public Prosecution, which he did through her lawyer. The prison administration continued to refuse to take her to the hospital.  When the appointment passed, the husband repeated the process four times but AlAsfoor was not transferred to the hospital for treatment. It is important to note that AlAsfoor was taken to the Bahrain Defense Force Hospital for checkups, but no treatment was provided nor have they informed her about the results of the checkups.

Another health problem Nafeesa AlAsfoor suffers from is the dislocation of jaw joints which causes a friction between the jaw and head bones, and for which she needs a particular diet. She is also required to wear a TMJ splint that stops her jaw from sliding out of place. Her husband took the splint to the detention center, but they claimed to have lost it. After AlAsfoor lost a considerable amount of weight, the prison administration contacted the husband and asked him to bring her another TMJ splint, which he did. In addition to her jaw problem, AlAsfoor also suffers from severe migraines for which she requires ongoing treatment.

Photo of Nafeesa during detention in a wheelchair

During the last visit, her husband noticed that Nafeesa AlAsfoor had broken her foot as a result of she losing consciousness and falling. She was using walking sticks. It is important to note that AlAsfoor has reportedly lost consciousness many times during detention. A Russian detainee imprisoned for criminal charges, who speaks Arabic, informed the husband during a visit that AlAsfoor had fainted for about 45 minutes before the ambulance transported her to the hospital.

On the 16th of August 2013, the family received a call from AlAsfoor informing them that she is at the Fort Prison Hospital and that that she will stay for a couple of days. The following day the family received news that AlAsfoor was diagnosed with anemia which has been the reason for her loss of consciousness several times during detention, and that she will be held under observation. The family and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) hold the Bahraini authorities responsible for the life of Nafeesa AlAsfoor and her physical and psychological wellbeing.

 

The BCHR calls on the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Nations, the European Union and all close allies and relevant international institutions to put pressure on the Government of Bahrain to:

  • Immediately and unconditionally release Nafeesa AlAsfoor along with all other political prisoners, especially in the case in which the only evidence are confessions extracted under duress
  • Provide Nafeesa AlAsfoor and all other prisoners with adequate medical care especially those with potentially life threatening illnesses.
  • Launch an impartial and independent investigation into the allegations of torture and assault made by Nafeesa AlAsfoor during her imprisonment in Bahrain and prosecute all officials involved in her torture
  • Immediately end the culture of impunity in Bahrain and hold accountable all those involved in violations, especially those in high position in government.

 

 

Bahraini activist speaks out

15 Aug, 2013

Bahrain: Abduljabbar Ahmed: Abducted from his Office, Held at the Criminal Investigations Department