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Fathers demanding justice for the deaths of their sons repeatedly targeted by Bahraini authorities

The shadows of mourners, paying their last respects, are cast over the grave of Ali Mushaima in Jidhafs, Bahrain on 9 February 2011
The shadows of mourners, paying their last respects, are cast over the grave of Ali Mushaima in Jidhafs, Bahrain on 9 February 2011

AP Photo/Hasan Jamali

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses grave concern over the escalated level of impunity in Bahrain that has gone as far as detaining the fathers of victims of extra-judicial killings who continue to demand justice for their sons.

On 11 August 2013, Ahmed Abbas Mowali was arrested from Arad following a police attack on a peaceful protest calling for rights and freedoms. On 13 August, the public prosecution ordered Mowali's detention for 45 days pending investigation on charges of “illegal gatherings”.

Ahmed Mowali is the father of Yousif Mowali, 23-years-old, who was arrested, tortured and then drowned in January 2012. At the time, his mother was told at the Samaheej police station that Yousif was at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and that he was fine.

A few days later, police said they found Mowali's body floating in the water on 13 January 2012 in the Amwaj area. A state doctor reported the cause of death as drowning and ruled out signs of violence. However, a second autopsy performed by an independent forensic pathologist concluded Mowali was electrically tortured, and was unconscious when he drowned.

The investigation into Yousif Mowali's death has not made any progress, and no one has been held accountable for his death or his torture.

On 22 August 2013, Abdulhadi Mushaima was arrested from his home following a raid by riot police and security officers dressed in civilian clothing during the early hours of the morning.

On 24 August, he called his family and informed them that he was given a detention order of 45 days. He was interrogated at the public prosecution in the absence of a lawyer and was charged with “illegal gathering” on the basis of his participation in peaceful protests.

Mushaima is the father of Ali Mushaima, the first protester to be killed in the Bahraini protests on 14 February 2011; Ali Mushaima was killed in front of his own house by police officers firing birdshot.

His death was confirmed in the Bahraini Commision of Inquiry Report (BICI) under Case #1 where it was stated that:

“The death of Mr Almeshaima can be attributed to the use of excessive force by police officers. At the time of the shooting, there were no reports of any disturbances in the Daih area. Furthermore, the fact that Mr Almeshaima was shot in the back at close range indicates that there was no justification for the use of lethal force.”

Since his death, Mushaima's family has been subjected to ongoing attacks by the authorities. The family's home has been attacked more than three times.

On 13 January 2012, their home was directly attacked with tear gas after security forces raided the house by entering through the kitchen, where they broke teapots and assaulted the deceased victim's sister by spitting in her face and shouting at her.

From what she recognized, the security forces were Yemeni and they were filming the assault. The officers attempted to beat Ali Mushaima's father, then they threw tear gas at the entrance of the house, which caused it to spread throughout the house. Ali Mushaima's aunt was present at the time, and the teargas caused the 83-year-old woman to have difficulty breathing, high blood pressure, and an infection in her kidney, all of which she had not suffered from prior to the attack.

Although the family attempted to leave the house to escape the toxic gas, the security forces encircled the home and prevented their exit for a period of time.

On 31 January 2013, the 3rd Criminal Court sentenced one policeman who is accused of “the beating that led to the death” of Ali Mushaima to seven years in prison. He was released during the appeal trial and the court will hear his appeal on 16 September 2013.

BCHR believes that both Ahmed Mowali and Abdulhadi Mushaima were targeted and detained for exercising their basic rights and publicly demanding justice for their murdered sons.

BCHR has previously documented several cases of attacks on families of extra-judicial victims that included detention. On 26 October 2012, Jawad Al-Shaikh was arrested at a peaceful protest in Manama that demanded self-determination. Until this day, no one has been held accountable for the death of his 14-year-old son, Ali Al-Shaikh, who was killed by police with a shot to his neck from behind on 31 August 2011.

These arrests are acts of intimidation directed at all other relatives of killed victims, who continue to accuse the regime with the killing of their sons and continue to participate in peaceful protests to demand justice. This is part of a systematic policy of granting impunity to the violators of human rights as a previous report by BCHR shows.

BCHR calls on the Bahraini government to:

  • Release Ahmed Mowali and Abdulhadi Mushaima immediately, as they have been targeted for practicing their legitimate right to peacefully assemble and demand justice;
  • Stop the acts of harassment and intimidation directed at the relatives of the victims of human rights violations who continue to raise awareness about it and demand justice;
  • Hold those responsible for the killing of civilians accountable and bring them before an independent judicial system;
  • Compensate families of extra-judicial killings both morally and materially for their losses, as well as for the attacks they have been subjected to.

BCHR also calls on the international community to condemn the Bahraini regime's use of vengeance in the cases of families of victims of extra-judicial killings.

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