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Saudi-backed Al-Khalifa Regime Continues Torturing Inmates

7 January 2012 7:25

Fresh reports of the torture of an 18-year old student in detention are yet another blow to Bahrain’s promises of reform, Amnesty International said.

Independent observers reported that the Bahraini police have subjected Hassan ‘Oun to torture, including beatings and threats of rape after his arrest in Manama on 3 January.

“As such horrendous cases of human rights abuse keep piling up, the Bahraini authorities’ promises of change ring ever more hollow,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Hassan’s family has told Amnesty International that he was interrogated about his contact with the Bahrain Center for Human Rights.

The student had told the Center about being tortured by police during a previous 2011 arrest, following his involvement in anti-government protests.

“We are concerned that Hassan ‘Oun may have been targeted again for arrest because he dared to report police abuses,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

According to family members, Hassan told his lawyer that the police had forced him to stand for about 11 hours, and that he had been beaten on his feet with a hose and threatened with rape.

Hassan’s lawyer and other witnesses have reportedly seen signs of torture on his body, and that one of his legs is swollen from injury.

Hassiba Hadj Sahroui called for immediate investigations in to the case, and also called for Hassan’s immediate release.

After being held in a police station for a day, Hassan was questioned at the Public Prosecutor’s Office (PPO) on 4 January.

The PPO extended his detention for 45 days pending investigation, under illegal public gathering charges. Hassan was then transferred to the Dry Dock Prison in Manama.

His family have not been allowed to see him.

Nearly a year on since the start of the crackdown on anti-government demonstrations at Manama’s Pearl Roundabout in 2011, scores of health workers, opposition and human rights activists, teachers and others are still facing trials or serving prison sentences.

A report released in November 2011 by an Al-Khalifa appointed inquiry commission, known as the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), was deeply critical of the authorities’ handling of the demonstrations, and of abuses against peaceful demonstrators in the following months, including continuing torturing of detainees and prisoners.

“Every new case of abuse of protesters makes a mockery of the BICI findings,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

Anti-government protesters have been holding peaceful demonstrations across Bahrain since mid-February, calling for an end to the Al Khalifa dynasty’s over-40-year rule.

Violence against the defenseless people escalated after a Saudi-led conglomerate of police, security and military forces from the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) member states – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar – were dispatched to the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom on March 13 to help Manama crack down on peaceful protestors.

So far, tens of people have been killed, hundreds have gone missing and more than 1,000 others have been injured.

Yet, protests and rallies continued throughout the country in defiance of the martial law put in place by Manama since February.

Bahrainis have repeatedly condemned Riyadh’s major role in the suppression of their revolution, and underlined that they would continue protests until the Al Khalifa regime collapses.

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