Bahrain: Escalating Harassment Against Political Prisoners and Detainees at Dry Dock Prison
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) is following with grave concern the details of the escalation of the retaliatory campaign against prisoners of conscience and political detainees held at the Dry Dock prison. The number of complaints received from the families has significantly increased in regards to the humiliating body search they are subjected to in addition to the barrier that isolates the sound and contact at the visits center.
Humiliating Inspections and Soundproof Barriers
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) has received complaints from the detainees' families of the case known as the “Army of the Imam”, the families told BCHR that they were subjected to humiliating and improper inspections while visiting their detained relatives at the Dry Dock Prison. The BCHR was told that during inspections women were told to remove their headscarves and “abayas” (long traditional clothing). The families added that in some cases male and female guards put their hands inside their clothes using the excuse of searching for banned items or things the family may smuggle to the detainee. The families were especially upset about the touching of the genital areas during the body search. They added that the guards used derogatory terms while conducting this kind of body search, insulting both the detainee and their family members.
The family of the detainee Ali Sangoor has informed the Documentation Unit at the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) that during their last visit, on 4th July 2013, one of the policewomen said to Ali’s mother "we ask God that you don’t come here again for your son". The mother replied: "with God's will, Ali will be released, and we won't have to come here again". Another policewomen replied with mockery "The place of the traitors is here, and if they ever get released, we'll bring them back again".
The family of detainee Jihad Mohammed Ali, who is accused of forming the 14th of February Youth Coalition, has stated that the administration of Dry Dock Prison is practicing various kinds of restrictions on the families of detainees during visits. A metal and glass barrier was recently installed in the visitation rooms, which prevents the direct meeting with the detainee, and it almost completely blocks the sound between the detainee and the family. The family added that the detainee Jihad was subjected to a thorough inspection which, as per their description, amounted to a sexual assault. They told BCHR that Jihad was taken to an isolated room where he was stripped of his clothes, and they touched his genitals.
The treatment has resulted in a number of families getting intoverbal arguments with the guards after the failure of several requests to stop these practices. Some families mentioned that they may starta sit-in outside the Dry Dock prison building until the administration improves the treatment with them and their detained sons.
Detainees refuse visits because of the insulating barriers and improper inspection
In the same context, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BHRC) has received many calls from families of the detainees and prisoners inside the prison which states that they are refusing visits to protest what they called “the insulting inspections and the recently added barrier in the visit room”, which they perceive as a flagrant violation of their rights.
According to information received by BCHR, over 100 political detainees from block 10 at the Dry Docks prison decided on the 11th of July 2013 to refuse family visits to protest the humiliating inspections, and to demand the removal of the barrier in the visitation room. Some of them have threatened to begin open hunger strikes until their demands are met.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) fears that those who have decided to boycott visits and threatened to go on hunger strike will be subjected to more harassment; similar to the case of Ali AlSingace. AlSingace was deprived from family visits for two months and placed in solitary confinement when he protested the humiliating inspections prior to a family visit. Detainee Abduaziz Abdulridha was also placed in solitary confinement when he went on a hunger strike to protest the treatment of his fellow prisoners.
Based on the above, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) demands the following:
- The immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience and political detainees, and an immediate stop totargeting and harassing those who practice their right to free expression and assembly
- Put an end to the harassment of prisoners and detainees
- Abidance of the Dry Dock Prison administration by the list of Detainees Rights
- Stop harassing the families of the detainees and prisoners, and ensure that they are not subjected to inappropriate treatment and body search