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Appalling Bahraini Prison Conditions and Treatment

Appalling Bahraini Prison Conditions and Treatment - by Stephen Lendman

Since early 2011, Washington, Western governments, and major media scoundrels largely ignored outrageous Al Khalifa monarchy abuses. They include crackdowns on nonviolent protesters, mass arrests, torture, intimidation, and cold-blooded murder.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and other NGOs documented:

• 46 killings;

• 1,500 arbitrary arrest cases;

• 1,866 torture and abuse cases;

• 500 prisoners of conscience;

• destruction of over 40 mosques and other places of worship;

• 4.000 summary firings of workers suspected of having unsympathetic regime views;

• 500 individuals forced into exile for their safety;

• three innocent men on death row;

• 477 students expelled for supporting democratic change; and 96 targeted journalists.

Ruthless repression continues. In September, special military tribunals lawlessly sentenced 208 civilians to a combined 2,500 years in prison. Twenty doctors got up to 15 years for treating injured protesters.

Arrests continue daily. Violence is extreme. Victims of state atrocities seek help getting redress.

On December 22, BCHR reported receiving "appalling information about (conditions) at Bahrain Central (Jaw) Prison, and infringing the standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners by the United Nations."

Human rights activists accuse Bahraini authorities, and Saudis helping them, of crimes against humanity. A European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights submitted a report saying:

"We believe that there are sufficient grounds (on two cases they addressed to accuse authorities of a) pattern of crimes that might amount to crimes against humanity.

Cairo Institute of Human Rights Studies director Eldin-Hassan told the UN Human Rights Council's 18th Session that "crimes against humanity....in Bahrain and Yemen (have) been swept under the rug."

Clear evidence proves it. BCHR's report documented violations of the "right to life, freedom from torture, arbitrary arrest and forced disappearance, freedom of opinion and expression, assembly and association,  freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and the right to a fair trial."

A Bahrain Central Prison detainee said the following:

"Reforming and Rehabilitation Department (Jaw prison) is the central prison in Bahrain, where prisoners (criminal and politicians alike) suffer from the most extreme conditions."

"They are neglected and tortured as revenge, especially the prisoners from the Shia Sect. (They) have no one to turn to and raise their complaints or grievances, due to the officers' domination of everything."

"Moreover, telling their relatives does not make any difference because the situation in the country cannot be resorted to in newspapers or anyone who could bring the offenders to justice."

He also said extreme summer heat and winter cold affect their health. Ventilation is lacking. Warm clothes aren't provided. Families are prohibited from sending them. Personal hygiene items aren't allowed. Religious rights are denied.

Anyone complaining is beaten and detained in isolation. The prison clinic has one general doctor, dentist and psychiatrist for over 1,000 prisoners. Neglect is extreme. So is human suffering. BCHR has information about shot and wounded prisoners denied medical care.

They spend over 20 hours in filthy cells. Lack of enough beds forces some to sleep on the floor. Health deterioration follows.

Building 2 has two Wards for about 250 prisoners and no bathrooms. Most prisoners say nothing about oppressive treatment because beatings, denial of minimal rights, and isolation follow.

Worst of all, prisoners face torture and other forms of mistreatment, including severe beatings, electric shocks, and other abuse.

Prisoners are routinely beaten all over their bodies, electoshocked, and hung by their hands for days. They're prevented from sleeping. Threats about family members arrested and raped in front of them are made. As many as 17 prisoners occupy one cell 20 or more hours daily with four beds and one facility for showers, toilet, and washing.

Family members complain loved ones are physically and psychologically tortured and abused constantly. Complaining makes it worse. Punishment for breaching prison rules is isolation. At times, it continues for months or longer. Instances of beating prisoners to death occur.

Independent monitors can't assess conditions firsthand. Bahrain never ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture because doing so requires a standing committee be allowed unannounced prison visits.

Bahrain authorities systematically ignore fundamental international human rights law that stipulates:

"All persons under any form of detention or imprisonment shall be treated in a humane manner and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person."

The UN's "standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners" stipulates that:

"Corporal punishment, punishment by placing in a dark cell, and all cruel, inhuman or degrading punishments shall be completely prohibited as punishments for disciplining offenses."

Moreover, abolishing "solitary confinement as punishment, (and restricting) its use should be undertaken and encouraged."

"No prisoner shall be punished unless he has been informed of the offense alleged against him and given a proper opportunity of presenting his defense."

"Instruments of restraint, such as handcuffs, chains, irons and straitjackets, shall never be applied as a punishment."

"All accommodations provided for the use of prisoners and in particular all sleeping accommodations shall meet all requirements of health....and particularly to cubic content of air, minimum floor space, lighting, heating and ventilation."

These and other provisions are to insure prisoners are treated humanely. Like America, Israel and elsewhere, Bahraini authorities don't comply.

Despite generous State Department and USAID funding, even pro-Western Freedom House said the international community abandoned Bahrain, adding:

"(T)here have been no UN resolutions or sanctions on Bahrain, where protesters' calls for political reform have been met with excessive force, torture, extrajudicial killings, and the targeting of medical professionals who treat injured demonstrators."

Only Saudi Arabia intervened. It sent in troops guns blazing. They continue violent crackdowns. "The United States, one of Bahrain's closest allies, has shown tepid opposition to the more egregious violations, but mostly looked the other way, even announcing a $53 million arms sale to the country."

On December 21, Reporters Without Borders called Bahrain one of the world's 10 most dangerous places for journalists. Bahraini authorities, especially photographers, were threatened, arrested, beaten, detained, and tried before military tribunals for doing their job.

"Bahrain is an example of news censorship that succeeded with the complicity of the international community, which said nothing."

Appalling human rights violations continue daily, including at Jaw prison.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.


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