Channel: Bahrain Center for Human Rights
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Inside Bahrain - A first hand account of the battles


This piece is written by Said Yousif, a leading activist in Bahrain; he is now in exile. It documents some of the oppression experienced by him and by others at the hands of the ruling family, and the security forces. Said documents the human rights abuses in the country, and these words below are his.

“As of today, 95 protesters have been killed in Bahrain, and 3200 made political prisoners; most of them have been tortured. Meanwhile the prime minster has held office for 44 years; the longest serving in the world, and little here seems to be changing.

Working as a human rights activist in Bahrain is not an easy job, and you must be willing to pay a high price for your beliefs. When I started working in The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) in 2007 I quickly became a target for the government, along with other members of my organisation.

Every day we know we might be beaten, arrested, banned from travel, tortured and even sentenced to life in prison.

Abdulhadi al khawaja the co-founder of BCHR was arrested in 2011, tortured and sentenced to life.

Nabeel rajab the current president of BCHR has been sentenced to 2 years, and has been beaten several times by the police.

Naje fateel, another close friend was arrested in 2013, tortured and sentenced to 15 years.


I myself have been arrested seven times, and have often been beaten by police and banned from travelling. There is a non stop campaign against me in official newspapers but I will continue to speak out. It is my duty to report the number of people who have been killed, tortured or arrested in our country, where to do so is a crime for which you will be punished

I will give you some examples of when and why I was arrested.

In September 2012 I went to the human rights council and delivered a speech about targeting human rights defenders in Bahrain. My pictures were published around the world and in October I was arrested. I spent three weeks in prison, charged with “illegal gathering” a rule that prohibits a group of more than five people gathering in one place without notifying the government. But I was alone at the time, and so you must understand the reason for the arrest.

In December 2012 I went to Brussels and met with EU MP’s. We discussed the human rights situation in Bahrain and on my return on the 17th I was arrested again; this time for one month. The charge was publishing false information on twitter, but again you must understand the reasons for the arrest.

I was mistreated but was not beaten as they were aware of me being involved with the media and human rights groups. However as I write this I have just received information that Sami Mishaim, who is a citizen in Samabis Village (a Shia village) was tortured for peacefully protesting.

On a daily basis I document human rights violation and report what I see. I talk to the media and observe protests. I support the rights of peaceful assembly, and many times have been targeted with tear gas or beaten while at demonstrations. It is because they know that I’m talking to the media, and publish what I see. I’m very active on twitter @saidyousif, and will continue to be so.

Whenever a journalist or human rights group contacts me I will help them write reports. The security services knows about this and so I became a targeted person. 80% of the security forces here, and most of it’s army are not actually from Bahrain. They come from Yemen, Jordan, Syria, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia to name a few. They are mercenaries. They come to carry out the dirty work like killing the protesters, stealing, burning houses of activists, torturing them, sexually harassing them. For this, as they arrive in Bahrain, they receive a good house, a healthy salary, citizenship and other benefits. They are changing the demographics of our country, trying to make the majority Shia a minority.

In October 2013 I went to Dublin to talk about the targeting of human rights defenders at a conference organized by the frontline organization. BCHR then began a campaign called “Wanted for Justice” (http://bahrainrights.hopto.org/en/node/6445) where we publish the names and pictures of the officers responsible for the killings, and other human rights violations in Bahrain. This includes members of the royal family and even the King himself.

The King, who is backed by Saudi and the UK, I believe to be legally responsible for all these crimes, he knows exactly what is happening and even promotes the use of police brutality and corruption. However these people are loyal to the royal family, and are therefore above the law and do not face any punishment. 

Following that they published my picture in the newspapers as a wanted man, and since then I have received numerous death threats. I was hence forced into exile and today I can’t go back. I left Bahrain back in October and I am now at risk of torture or death in jail so I am now in Germany.

Similar cases are Maryam Alkhawaja (head of BCHR) who is no longer allowed back into Bahrain and Hussain Jawad who has had so seek asylum in the UK. However being in Germany doesn’t stop me being scared for my family, and I am scared of my friends being targeted on revenge attacks for my actions. But this is the cost for change and the struggles for freedom. 

This is just part of my story as a human rights defender in the police state of Bahrain. There are many other stories I can tell about other activists in Bahrain, and how they are suffering. I can mention the 200 children under the age of 18 who are wrongly held in jail, most of them are tortured and sexually harassed and others who are forced into working as a spy for the government. It is documented that 14 children have been killed in Bahrain from 2011 until now. 

But the final point I want to make to whoever is reading my story, and to the brave people in Bahrain, is that myself and other activists both in and out of the country will continue the struggle for justice and will fight for human rights, and we won’t stop until we achieve our demands.”


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