8-17-2011By Human Rights Defenders Program
Human Rights First
In July, Human Rights First profiled Jalila al-Salman, a Bahraini teacher who has been detained since March for her alleged role in coordinating a teachers’ strike. We are very concerned to hear from local human rights defenders that Jalila was hospitalized today for chest pains following 10 days on hunger strike. Among the handful of women still in detention in Bahrain, Jalila and fellow prisoner, Roula Al Saffar, the Head of the Bahrain Nursing Society, have undergone a joint hunger strike to protest their continued detention and ill treatment. There are reports that Jalila has been severely tortured.
While there were hopes that the women detainees would be released pending a transfer to civilian courts at the start of Ramadan, so far there have been no improvements to their situation.
Another female detainee told HRF staff in Bahrain what happened to her, Her account is consistent with what has happened to other female detainees:
I was taken from the hospital where I was working during the middle of the day. Four masked men came and took me for an interrogation. They blindfolded me and took me to the investigations office. They were verbally abusing me, saying the doctors at the hospital were sectarian, only treating Shiite patients.
Then they moved me to another room – I was blindfolded the whole time and a policewoman pushed me along the corridor for more questioning.
They wanted me to say that doctors took injured people for operations unnecessarily, they had very minor injuries but doctors made these injuries worse and caused death on purpose in two cases.
They said we wanted to make Bahrain look bad, to hurt its international reputation. I said no, patients were really bleeding badly, some from live ammunition wounds, and we didn’t make their wounds worse.
The policewoman started to beat me and she said ‘You have to go to the boss, they know how to get a confession out of you.’ They took me to another office – I was standing the whole time, about three hours. It was so terrifying I was hoping I’d die. You don’t know how long it will continue or what they will do next. You’re blindfolded the whole time – they repeat the same questions over and over and if they don’t get the answer they want, they beat you.
So they took me to ‘the boss’ and he alleged that I took drugs from the hospital to the medical tent at Pearl Roundabout [where there was a makeshift medical center for the injured protestors]. I said I didn’t – he said I was a whore and my mother is a whore, and I was beaten very badly by the same lady. I could hear several men laughing and shouting at me not to cry. He gave me back to the policewoman and she continued the interrogation, all night long. They made me sing the national anthem and other songs saying the opposition leaders are crazy – they sang it and forced me to repeat it.
In the early hours of the morning, they let me lift my blindfold just enough to sign something, though I wasn’t allowed to see what it was. The next day they took me to the military police and it was the same thing – interrogation and then I had to sign something else I couldn’t read. When I was being interrogated, the man in charge kept giving instructions to the typist – ‘delete that, paste that there, cut that bit and move it,’ and so on.
I was finally moved to jail where the other detainees were. At first we were separated from each other, and put with the common criminals, but then they put us together. They didn’t allow me to call my family. For one week I was begging them to call my children, as they were alone since their father was also detained but they refused and allowed me to call only after a week.
After some weeks, they told us one evening about 5 p.m. we all had to go back to the Investigation Office. We were all terrified – we called it the House of Horror. They took us there, more than a dozen of us together, and we were called one by one. I had to sign a document to say I hadn’t been beaten. Then, about midnight, I was released.