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Opposition activists testify about torture for first time

(BCHR/IFEX) - For the first time since their arrest in March 2011, the 13 leading opposition activists who have been sentenced for up to life by the military court on fabricated charges of “attempting to overthrow the regime”, have been given a chance to speak in court. Over 5 long hearing sessions, between 22 May 2012 and 19 June 2012, the higher court of appeal chaired by consular Adnan AlShamsi has listened to the testimonies of the 13 activists who were targeted for their political and human rights activism as well as their participation in the 14 February 2011 uprising. The activists have described details of the torture inflicted upon them to force confessions, and they have named before the court the officials involved in torturing them including the son of the king, Nasser Bin Hamad.

On 12 June 2012, the 13 activists submitted a list of 13 individuals involved in torturing them and have called on the court to hold these people accountable for their actions. Among the named torturers are names that have been repeated over the past years in testimonies of torture victims, as well as in reports of human rights organizations, including the 2010 Human Rights Watch report “Torture Redux”. This includes officers Badr Ibrahim al-Ghaith and Yousif Elmana'ai. This is not the first time the name of the son of the king is mentioned in testimonies of torture victims. Last August, BCHR has reported on other testimonies that involved Nasser as well as other members of the royal family, however, according to the center's information, no investigation into those allegations has been launched.

The court has heard details of the torture of the 13 activists, which included (but was not limited to) electric shocks, throwing cold water on the victims, sleep deprivation, beatings, psychological torture and solitary confinement for prolonged periods of time. The torture led to the victims having several chronic health problems including internal bleeding, decreased vision, loss of sensation in the hands and chronic leg pain causing one of the victims to have difficulty standing.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) calls for the immediate release of the activists who are solely held for exercising their legitimate rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. BCHR calls on the Bahraini court to immediately start investigations into these allegations and hold accountable all those involved in torture regardless of their position. BCHR also warns against any kind of retribution against the activists who have made the allegations against the son of the king.

Read the full press release
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