Bahrain's abuse of dissenters: four detailed cases
A pattern of widespread abuse emerges from these cases, including detention without trial, beatings, and lack of access to lawyers and family.
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Around 40 masked security personnel, most in civilian clothes, surrounded Sharif's house at 2 a.m. March 17, as the island-wide crackdown began. Two men in traditional white Bahraini gowns supervised as a pair of young police officers vaulted over the outer wall of the house, one to press the electric garage door opener as the other approached Sharif and pointed a gun at him.Skip to next paragraph
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"It's OK. I'm coming," Sharif told him. His wife, Farida Ismail, who's in charge of training for the party, asked the authorities where they were taking him.
"To the City Center mall," was the brusque reply. "You can call there to find out where he is."
It was a full week before he was allowed to contact his wife, and the call was cut seconds after it began. Later the family learned that he'd suffered continuous and severe beatings during the first two weeks he was held, and had lost 45 pounds.
On May 2, Sharif's wife issued a cry for help, saying he'd spent 47 days "in a notorious prison, suffering under brutal and continuous torture." She said he'd been taken to the military hospital twice, but that his family hadn't been allowed to see him.
"We do not know whether he will be able to further tolerate daily beatings and torture and pray he survives this unspeakable treatment," she said.
Between May 8 and May 22, Sharif had four hearings before a military tribunal, but his lawyer was able to attend only one session. He's been charged with conspiring to overthrow the monarchy.
'I never sleep at night'
Fairooz, Mattar, and Sharif are all known as moderate reformers who advocate a constitutional monarchy with an elected government in place of the royal regime.
In the super-heated atmosphere of Bahrain, however, Hassan Mushaima has been widely painted as a radical. Secretary-general of the Haq party, he favors abolishing the monarchy and establishing a modern parliamentary democracy.
For years, Mushaima had lived in exile in Britain. But when the protests began, he decided to return to his homeland.
Many foreign diplomats think that his return led to a radical turn in the protests, but one thing is certain: Bahrain made a major concession when he returned, releasing all political prisoners. When the crackdown began, however, there was no deference.
Mushaima was arrested the same day as Sharif.
His captors arrived in 10 police vehicles at about 4 a.m. As in the other cases, they wore masks and were armed.
"We have an order to arrest you," one told Mushaima, but he didn't show any papers. Mushaima went without a fight, but the family still doesn't know where he's being held.
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He told one member of his family that he'd been subjected to severe abuse. "I couldn't sleep since I was arrested," he said. "I never sleep at night. I hear other people being beaten," the family member quoted him as saying. He, too, has now been charged with plotting to overthrow the monarchy.
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