Bahrain accused of torturing detained protesters

Written by  Published by:Shiite News
Published in Middle East
Saturday, 14 May 2011


shiitenews_Bahrain_accused_of_torturing_detained_protestersSome members of the Bahrain opposition have gone on trial three months after unrest broke out in the Gulf state, as rights groups raise fears protesters are being tortured in prison.

More than 20 opposition members are accused of terrorism and plotting to overthrow the monarchy.

Human rights organisations describe the trials as unfair and are calling for international observers to be allowed in when the hearings resume next week.

"We don't know where they are. Their lawyers don't know where they are, their families don't know where they are.

"They have essentially been held incommunicado, exactly the kind of conditions when torture is most likely to occur."

Mr Stork says detainees show physical signs of "serious abuse".

"We saw one of our Bahraini colleagues brought before the court earlier this week bearing unmistakable evidence of abuse," he said.

"We've seen bodies prepared for funerals, people who have died in detention, again showing unmistakable signs of serious abuse."

Sheik Abdulaziz bin Mubarak, the director of media relations at the Bahrain Information Authority, denies any systemic abuse of human rights, saying any instances would be isolated.

"The government policy is of zero tolerance to any abuse of human rights," he said.

"On May 11, the Ministry of Interior has demonstrated its willingness to see investigations through in a timely manner and have announced that the arrests of five prison guards alleged to be responsible for [torturing] one of the detainees while in police custody.

"Therefore any isolated incidents come without official sanction and all allegations are really treated seriously."

He says the protesters were arrested because the government's patience was exhausted.

"It was only at the end of that one-month period did we see total anarchy in Bahrain and unfortunately we had to restore stability and security and that was unavoidable," he said.

But Mr Stork says the problem "goes back way before March".

"It is much more widespread than the Sheikh seems willing to acknowledge," he said.

"For many years there was no torture in Bahrain or where you could at least say, yes, it was really an isolated incident. But those days are unfortunately in the past. We'd like to see them come again."

The United Nations has criticised Bahrain over its military trials and its human rights office is demanding an independent investigation into the alleged abuses.

The Bahraini government is promising to lift martial law by next month.

Source: ABC NEWS


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Joe Stork from Human Rights Watch says there is also growing evidence that many of the protesters who have been arrested have also been tortured.

"One of the things that is most disturbing about the situation in Bahrain is that we've seen about 1,000 people arrested, more than 600 of them still in detention, many weeks after their arrest," he said.

"We don't know where they are. Their lawyers don't know where they are, their families don't know where they are.

"They have essentially been held incommunicado, exactly the kind of conditions when torture is most likely to occur."

Mr Stork says detainees show physical signs of "serious abuse".

"We saw one of our Bahraini colleagues brought before the court earlier this week bearing unmistakable evidence of abuse," he said.

"We've seen bodies prepared for funerals, people who have died in detention, again showing unmistakable signs of serious abuse."

Sheik Abdulaziz bin Mubarak, the director of media relations at the Bahrain Information Authority, denies any systemic abuse of human rights, saying any instances would be isolated.

"The government policy is of zero tolerance to any abuse of human rights," he said.

"On May 11, the Ministry of Interior has demonstrated its willingness to see investigations through in a timely manner and have announced that the arrests of five prison guards alleged to be responsible for [torturing] one of the detainees while in police custody.

"Therefore any isolated incidents come without official sanction and all allegations are really treated seriously."

He says the protesters were arrested because the government's patience was exhausted.

"It was only at the end of that one-month period did we see total anarchy in Bahrain and unfortunately we had to restore stability and security and that was unavoidable," he said.

But Mr Stork says the problem "goes back way before March".

"It is much more widespread than the Sheikh seems willing to acknowledge," he said.

"For many years there was no torture in Bahrain or where you could at least say, yes, it was really an isolated incident. But those days are unfortunately in the past. We'd like to see them come again."

The United Nations has criticised Bahrain over its military trials and its human rights office is demanding an independent investigation into the alleged abuses.

The Bahraini government is promising to lift martial law by next month.

Source: ABC NEWS


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