Poet's prison torture claim to be investigated by Bahrain officials

Patrick Cockburn
Wednesday 20 July 2011 00:00

Allegations of torture against the Bahraini security forces made by the student poet Ayat al-Gormezi in an interview with The Independent are to be investigated by a special committee of the Interior Ministry.

Ms Gormezi had described how for nine days she was punched and beaten with a baton and electric cable so severely that she lost consciousness. She was threatened with rape or sexual molestation, kept in a freezing cell and forced to clean a lavatory with her bare hands. She says she was told by prison guards that one of those beating her was a woman member of the royal al-Khalifa family.

Ms Gormezi's family said she was called to give a statement to the committee set up by the Interior Minister in response to the article in The Independent yesterday about how she was treated in prison after her detention on 30 March.

She had read out to a rally a poem critical of the monarchy at the height of the pro-democracy protests in Bahrain in February and March. These were ended by a brutal government crack down starting on 15 March.

Many of those detained have said they were tortured and forced to give false confessions, saying they were part of an Iranian-orchestrated conspiracy to overthrow the Bahrain monarchy.

After nine days Ms Gormezi was transferred to another prison where she was kept in solitary confinement and given medication so her injuries would be less apparent. She was then transferred to a general wing of the prison where physical mistreatment did not take place. She was unexpectedly released last week, though she has not been pardoned and was asked to sign an agreement not to take part in any protests.

International protests and ensuing bad publicity for the Bahraini monarchy led to her treatment in prison improving, according to her family.

Ms Gormezi was brought before a court on 12 June and sentenced to one year in prison, a shorter sentence than her family had feared. Last week she was called to an office in the prison and told she was to be released on the condition that she should not take part in other protests.

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