The extent of repression has become evident in today’s trial of 25 Bahrainis charged with sedition, anti-regime activities and smearing its reputation outside.
Once again, the judge, Ibrahim Al Zayed, insisted that government-imposed lawyers must start their “defence” of the accused without their consent. His flimsy legal basis is that since the minister of justice (who is a member of the Al Khalifa) asked them to represent the defendants then they must do so without the permission of the defendants themselves. In today’s session, 19 of the 24 lawyers pulled out from the trial after the detainees insisted that they wanted only their original team of lawyers. The remaining four lawyers are known for their pro-regime stands and are thus unable to defend the detainees whose main charges related to their anti-regime activities. This legal stand off would have been enough for a lawful government to pause and take a backward step, but this is not the case in Bahrain. The Al Khalifa are well aware that they had built a shaky case that would incriminate them, not the detainees especially in light of the mounting evidence of systematic torture inflicted on those detainees. It has now become routine to inflict horrific torture on them after each court session for their continuous attempts to expose their ordeal at the court. What has been defeaning is the total silence by the officials from the Embassies of UK, USA and France who have regularly attended those sessions which have turned into a farce. So far those diplomats have said or done nothing to protest the ongoing mockery of justice. Eventually the judge, once again, ordered a postponement of the proceedings for one more week. He has threatened to impose more pro-regime lawyers so that he continues for few minutes and announce the verdict given to him by “higher authorities”.
The public outrage has steadily increased over the past few weeks at what the people see as the ultimate punishment of pro-democracy activists. More arrests and ill-treatment have been reported in recent days. On Monday 3rd January heavily-armed militias raided the house of Jamil Tahir Al Sami’e in Sanabis in the early hours of the morning. His son, Hussain, 16 was snatched from his bed and taken to an unknown destination. He Two weeks ago he was kidnapped with one of his friends but released later, only to be re-arrested later. His name has thus been added to the 80 children languishing in torture chambers. His three brothers Mohammad, Ali and Abbas, have been behind bars since last October, with no prospect of release soon. Three young persons from Sanabis were also detained: Hassan Al Kaddad, Ali Abdul Shahid Al Singace and Ali Moosa Jaffar, 15. They were all taken to an unknown destination. More teenage Bahrainis from Sanabis were sent summons to appear at the Torture HQ run by Khalifa bin Abdulla Al Khlaifa, the former Bahraini Ambassador to UK.
In another incident on Tuesday, the mother of Ali Hassan Jawad, from Salmabad, was arrested as she tried to shelter her son, Sadiq who is only 14 years of age. She was abused by the officials of the prosecutor’s office and detained briefly. There was public outcry and the mother was subsequently released.
Yesterday the security forces took a provocative act by surrounding the house of Sheikh Mohammad Habib Al Miqdad, a Swedish national. The family had held a religious congregation to pray for his releae.
On Wednesday 5th January, the government militias and members of Death Squads raided the town of Jidhafs in the early hours of the morning. Mr Hussain Hassan Al Bannai, 17, was detained and taken to an unknown destination. The day before, they raided a house at Barhama district looking for Murtadha Abd Ali Al Saffar, 16, but could not find him. His family was ordered to hand him over when he returned, and was immediately detained. Several other children under the age of 16 were detained in the past few days. It is now clear that a policy of revenge has replaced any other form of dealing with the natives. The ruling family has cultivated a culture of hate which has led to intensification of attacks on Bahrainis. As the new year approached it became clear that both the Al Khalifa and Bahrainis are engaged in a war of attrition having failed to co-habit on the land.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
6th January 2011