Constant retribution of Mr. Ali Muhanna for demanding the release of Bahrain’s political prisoners, including his son
Bahrain’s pro-democracy movement leaders and over 4,000 political prisoners remain behind bars, top opposition political blocs are outlawed and the only independent newspaper is suspended.
Bahraini activist Mr. Ali Muhanna was questioned by Manama’s security services on Monday, 28 March 2021, and accused of ‘calling for prayers’ at the Al Alawiyat Mosque, which was one of at least 30 religious sites demolished in 2011, as part of the government’s violent crackdown on pro-democracy protests.
The activist was recently threatened with criminal prosecution if he takes part in any peaceful demonstration calling for the release of 4,000 prisoners of conscience, including his own son Hussein (26), who was brutally tortured and coerced into confessing to fabricated crimes he did not commit, before being sentenced to life imprisonment in a mass trial involving 168 defendants in the so-called case “Hezbollah of Bahrain”, on 16 April 2019. His citizenship was revoked and he was fined with BD10,000. The verdict was upheld on 30 June 2019 but his citizenship was reinstated.
Hussein was detained in 2017 by the Central Investigation Department. He was held for 40 days, where he was severally tortured. Hussein was then unfairly prosecuted in a mass trial. On 22 July 2018, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison with an arbitrary revocation of his citizenship on fabricated charges. After the sentence was appealed, it was reduced to 5 years in prison. On 26 September 2018, Hussein was further sentenced to one year in prison on charges of escaping arrest.
Since 2011, Mr Ali Muhanna has been subjected to an unprecedented level of harassment by Manama’s security forces which repeatedly summoned him. He revealed recently that he was forced to sign a document pledging not to take part in sit-ins calling for the release of Bahrain’s political prisoners, and not to take part in protests against Manama’s normalization deal with “Tel Aviv”.
Nonetheless, the activist says he is undeterred and will tirelessly continue in his campaign to secure his son’s release and that of other political prisoners and opposition leaders. Those sit-ins have been ongoing since March when COVID-19 began spreading through Bahrain’s notorious prisons.
The conditions of these detention centers, mainly Jaw Central Prison, violate the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (aka “Nelson Mandela Rules”), whereby inmates are incarcerated under extremely cramped and unhygienic conditions.
Besides, adequate medical care is denied and religious freedoms are prohibited, and inmates are punished with solitary confinement if they attempt to practice. The prison has also specifically targeted high-profile prisoners for abuse by denying them healthcare. Further, the prison administration provides insufficient, poor quality, potable water, reportedly giving prisoners water in emptied bottles of bleach.
Not only has Bahrain’s Ministry of Interior targeted Mr Ali Muhanna, but also the Ministry of Education, which issued on 20 February 2017, a letter stating that his service as a teacher at the Imam Ali Primary and Preparatory School for Boys had been terminated with retroactive effect from October 8, 2015, merely because of his political and human rights-related views
Mr Ali Muhanna was previously detained on 8 April 2019, from the courtroom in implementation of his one-year prison sentence due to his participation in a sit-in in front of the house of Ayatollah Sheikh Issa Qassem. During the bloody attack on the protesters in May 23, 2017, Mr Muhanna was shot, then he was subjected to beatings, psychological torture, and had his Shiite sect and beliefs insulted at the Criminal Investigations building.
The subsequent shallow endeavors of GoB’s watchdog institutions and its lack of seriousness in carrying out substantial reforms have been repeatedly exposed. By assessing the implementation of the BICI and the UPR recommendations, regarding the prisoners of conscience, we deduce that the GoB has failed to implement any of them. The implementation of the BICI’s 26 recommendations was supposed to pave the way for a promising era in the country.
However, ignoring the calls to free the prisoners reveals the absence of political will on the part of GoB to truly address the rights situation for the key of political reconciliation: The release of the opposition leaders along the rest of political prisoners, and as a roadmap for genuine reform.
11 years on, a decade of turmoil and suppression, Bahrain’s pro-democracy movement leaders and over 4,000 political prisoners remain behind bars, top opposition political blocs are outlawed and the only independent newspaper is suspended. This is Bahrain! The arena is left now for the Zionists to topple on what was left of freedoms.
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