Testimonies from Bahrain: An activist’s detention ordeal

I am a Bahraini activist, involved in the Bahrain Revolution that started on 14 February.

When the army demolished the Pearl Roundabout and began arresting people, I was terrified. I knew that I hadn’t done anything wrong – but they were crazy.
One night my house was raided by scores of officers. I was pulled out of the house by my neck with guns pointing at my head, without even a chance to get dressed. They dragged me out while abusing and insulting me, in full view of my young children and family who were screaming and crying at the sight.

I was in shock and dizzy, due to medication I was taking for a health problem. When I came to my senses I saw I was surrounded by dozens of men, some in military uniform, some in plainclothes, some in masks, many were also carrying pistols, clubs and shotguns.

They were searching my personal belongings, reading my papers, putting documents in my laptop case to take away – and they took all the cash in the house.

Outside my house, cars filled the street – civilian cars, a bus, emergency vehicles and riot police jeeps. They pushed me into the bus, closed the door, and then the verbal abuse started – the dirtiest curses, insults, degradation, and insulting my parents and my religion because I am a Shi’a.

On the rough journey to the police station I was full of fear about what would happen to me – whether I would ever see my children again, whether I would be tortured.  Since it was my first arrest, I knew nothing about what would happen.

I was held for 149 days. First, I was kept in solitary confinement for 17 days. Ten of these days were spent in the police station, where I was forced to stand facing the wall day and night. They knew I had a back problem, and I believe they designed this torture especially to ruin my health.

They denied me water and sleep, didn’t let me pray or lie down, denied me medicine, blindfolded me when moving me even inside the building, and subjected me to long interrogations while standing up, during which I fainted twice.

Another seven days of solitary confinement were in a freezing room with only one light blanket.

After that they put me in a room with three other women. The verbal abuse continued. They threatened to kill us, screamed at us continuously over nothing, insulted us for our Shi’a beliefs, and made us carry out menial tasks for other detainees.

They used my health conditions as a weapon. I was not allowed to use the toilet or drink water for long periods, which gave me kidney problems. When I had a problem with my tooth, they sent me to a Ministry of Interior hospital where my tooth was pulled out with a solid steel clip, without anaesthetic. My mouth and face were full of blood, and I cannot describe the pain.

I was not allowed any contact with my lawyer during my entire 149 day detention. They didn’t let us have pen and paper. They forced me to make a video recording of a testimony they gave me, after they threatened me with being beaten and raped.

After some time my heart condition deteriorated. I had chest pain all the time with numbness, difficulty breathing, arm pain and fainting.

When they took me to the court, to my surprise it was a military trial. When the military judge announced the 12 charges I was shocked. All the charges were based on their own conclusions with no physical evidence.

The judge didn’t allow the lawyer to talk even during the defence witnesses’ session.  He rejected most of the testimonies that were in my favour.

It was unimaginable the way I was living while in detention, with all this hate surrounding me.

My children are still in need of therapy as a result of seeing me being arrested. They wake up at night screaming with fear and wetting the bed.

Read more:Testimonies from Bahrain: A hospital under siege (Blog 7 September 2011)