NGOs release two new reports on torture in Bahrain

On Friday, REDRESS and the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) issued a significant new report on torture in Bahrain. Entitled Bahrain: Fundamental Reform or torture without end? the report describes torture as “an integral part of the ongoing crisis in Bahrain. The press release reads in part:

In 2011 the Bahrain International Commission of Inquiry (BICI) found that torture and ill-treatment had been used systematically to respond to protests in Bahrain. While the Government of Bahrain has taken some steps to implement the recommendations of the BICI, torture and ill-treatment continue and obligations towards victims have not been met.

“Bahrain must address the legacy of torture and ill-treatment, as the practice continues to be documented in a number of different contexts, both in detention and by riot police who are ostensibly controlling protests,” said Lutz Oette, counsel at REDRESS. “Providing victims of torture and ill-treatment the reparation promised after the BICI report, and guaranteed to them under international law constitutes an overdue and important first step towards that end.”

Earlier today, the Bahrain Rehabilitation and Anti-Violence Organisation (BRAVO) issued its latest report: Resurgence of Sexual Violence as a Torture Technique in Bahrain. The report summary reads:

Sexual violence in its many forms has re-emerged as a torture technique in Bahrain. The Bahrain Independent Commission Inquiry report contains a disturbing litany of testimonies from victims of sexual violence occurring since February 2011.

Human Rights Watch had noted ongoing violations before 2010 but there has been a dramatic upsurge in rape, sodomy, sexual harassment, abuse and exploitation of detainees in recent years.

Despite numerous testimonies and the findings of the BICI report the Bahraini government denies that sexual violence occurs in their prisons and detention centers.
Bahrain is a signatory of the Convention Against Torture and should repeal laws such as Law 56, 2002, which offers impunity for those responsible.

BRAVO calls for an independent review of all claims of sexual violence against detainees in Bahrain under the auspices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The reports come just days after the death of Colonel Ian Henderson, a British citizen who, for several decades, headed state security in Bahrain as an advisor to the government. Grave accusations of torture have been leveled against Henderson, earning him the nickname “The Butcher of Bahrain”. In 1984, he received a CBE from Queen Elizabeth, for his “services to British interests in Bahrain”. Middle East expert Emile Nakleh, who encountered Henderson in the 1970s, wrote about him yesterday in a piece entitled: Ian Henderson and Repression in Bahrain: A Forty-Year Legacy.

Opposition protests across Bahrain

Opposition protests were held across Bahrain today. The following is a selection of images and videos from them shared on social media (click images for source):

Barbar: “No for bloody F1 in Bahrain”

Protest in Barbar

Protest in Barbar

Manama (the capital):

Sitra: “Democracy is our right”

Protest in Sitra

The slogan in this banner refers to Ian Henderson, a British citizen who worked for several decades as an advisor to the Bahrain government. He died on Sunday. He was nicknamed “the Butcher of Bahrain” for his role in overseeing severe torture. Nurse Rula Saffar, seen in the center of the picture, tweeted shortly after it was taken: “We are in a licened protest! The riot police is attacking us right now in sitra! Why?”

Protest in Sitra

And in the evening in Sitra, a protest with drums. (“Yascot Hamad” = “Down with [King] Hamad”):

Salmabad: Drummers lead protesters carrying anti-F1 banners:

Karbabad: Video of the protest ends with an activist burning an F1 ticket: