'They beat and slapped me and called me whore and dirty Shia'

Bahrain: a doctor's story

Tuesday 10 May 2011 00:00
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Emailed testimony of a consultant and family physician detained during Bahrain's crackdown on medical professionals. State security forces have routinely commandeered health centres to search, investigate, and arrest medics:

I was arrested with several others from my work place on 26/4/2011. When we reached the police station, Bahraini female security personnel made us face a wall and raise one arm and the opposite leg for a long period. We were ordered to repeatedly sing the national anthem with a loud voice and to say 'Long live the King'.

While we were forced to stand, we were beaten by police officers using a thick hose. Before one male officer starting beating me, he asked me in an intimidating voice if I had ever been physically assaulted by my husband. I said: 'Never.' This officer then slapped me on the face.

We were subjected to humiliating words like: 'Dirty Shia, you were going to the Pearl Roundabout to participate in the dirty behaviours. You are a whore. You have all this money and you go to protest. The government is giving you this salary and gave you a scholarship to study, why do you want more?'

The real torture began when they blindfolded our eyes. They forced me to run while blindfolded in the interrogation room. I ran and hit a wall with such force that it resulted in a big bulge on my forehead. The interrogators then made me place my shoes on the top of my head. They told me that was what I deserved because I am 'a worthless Shia... working against our King and Crown Prince'.

They took off my white medical coat because they said that I didn't deserve it and that I betrayed my career as a doctor. They pictured me while I was forced to dance and sing a song with the words 'all the people want [Prince] Khalifa bin Salman'. The interrogators would also hit me suddenly while I was blindfolded making me cry out in pain. Then they would shout at me: 'We don't want to hear your voice. You are screaming like a whore. Do you think that you are in the bedroom with your husband? Do you miss him?' While I was blindfolded, the interrogators took me to a room where there were both male and female officers. They were repeatedly asking the same questions over and over, because they wanted 'their answers'. As a result, I was beaten and slapped on the face repeatedly.

They wanted me to say that I went to the Pearl Roundabout and protested against the regime, but I insisted on the truth, which is that I only protested against the Health Minister and his under-secretaries. They threatened me that they would inject me with substances, bring dogs to bite me, will take me to the place where my husband is being incarcerated, that I will face a military court and will stay in jail for four years and lose my Bahraini nationality.

At the end, I received a huge slap on my face and then made to sign on a paper saying that I protested against the Health Minister.

Later on, they took us to a corridor and let us open the folds over our eyes... All my colleagues detained with me earlier that day were present and I was relieved that no one had been separated from us. Thank God, we were asked to call a family relative to come and pick us up at the police station.

I hope this serves to expose the violations of human rights and international law by the Bahraini regime. What I was subjected to is, in my view, not as severe as that experienced by hundreds of Bahrainis who have and continue to be unlawfully detained by the state.

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