The crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Bahrain detained over one thousand people, including medics, teachers and journalists. Many of them were tortured and forced to sign fake confessions. The sham trials of Bahrain’s military courts handed out harsh sentences, including death sentences. Defendants were not allowed to raise the issue of their torture during the trial. Human Rights First spoke with a number of Bahraini pro-democracy activists. Here are their testimonies.
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Maryam Abu Deeb
Maryam Abu Deeb, the daughter of Mahdi Abu Deeb, president of the Bahrain Teachers Association, talks about her father’s life after he was imprisoned for organizing teachers to join the peaceful protests in 2011. (Video from Witness Bahrain, 2012)
Dr. Nada Dhaif
Dr. Nada Dhaif, a Bahraini medic, mother and human rights defender, reflects on her experience since February 14th. (Video from FrontLine Defenders, 2011)
Jaleela Al-Salman is a teacher and vice president of the Bahrain Teacher’s Association. She, along with her cellmate Roula, was detained for over five months—the longest among the detained women for participating in the democracy protest earlier this year. She was tortured and forced to sign a confession. Bahrain Military Courts sentenced her to three years in prison, but was released pending an appeal in civilian court scheduled for December 2011. At 3am on October 18, 2011 masked security forces in civilian clothes broke into her house and took her away without a warrant.
Roula Al-Safar is a nurse, head of the Bahrain Nursing Association. She spent eighteen years in the United States where she trained at Baylor medical facilities in Dallas, Texas and studied at Widener University in Pennsylvania. Roula was detained for over five months for treating wounded protestors. The Bahrain military court sentenced her to 15 years in prison. She is currently released pending an appeal on October 23, 2011.
Zainab is a Bahraini human rights activist and is an active participant of the Bahrain pro-democracy movement. She went on a 10-day hunger strike earlier this year in April to protest her father’s arrest, Abdulhadi Alkhawaja as well as her husband’s and her brother-in-law’s. She was violently arrested in December 2011 for her work to promote democracy in her country.
Dr. Ghassan Dhaif and Dr. Zahra Al Sammak
Dr. Dhaif and Dr. Al Sammak are married with three children. They were both working at the SMC earlier this year. He was a Senior Consultant, an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, and she a Consultant Anaesthetist. Ghassan was sentenced to 15 years by the military court, Zahra to five years. The cases of these doctors and another 17 medics are now in an appeal process where the Bahrian regime continues to pursue the charges against them. The next appeal hearing is due January 9.
Dr. Bassim Dhaif
Bassim is consultant orthopedic surgeon at the Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC) in Bahrain. He was sentenced to 15 years by the military court. His next appeal hearing is due January 9 along with 17 other medics.