Sunday, February 12, 2012

Jawad AlMahari, University Student, Sentenced to 15 years

Name: Jawad Jassim Mohammed Al Mahari
Age: 24 years old
Date of Arrest: 29th March 2011
Jawad is a student at the College of Law at the University of Bahrain with excellent academic record. He was summoned for investigation by the university’s administration on 29th March 2011; however he was arrested at dawn that same day in a home raid by security forces. Jawad complained of being beaten from the beginning of his arrest until his arrival at the ASRY detention center. He was kicked and beaten with a plastic hose and heavy electric cables. He was subjected to physical harm where they would put out cigarettes on his body, spit in his mouth and forced him to stand for long periods of time. He remained blindfolded and handcuffed for 12 days where he was interrogated and subjected to beatings, torture and verbal abuse. Jawad was taken to the Military Court without notifying his family or a lawyer. He was not allowed to meet with his family/lawyer until his second trial (3 months after his arrest), and he complained of being beaten at the court by security forces.

His story (below) was written by his brother (Muntadhar) who not only was arrested the same night, but also subjected to the same events/conditions

The Investigation in the University
Jawad received a call at 11 am from the University of Bahrain’s vice president and dean of students affairs (Osama AlJowdar) asking him to come to campus for investigation regarding the incidents of 13th March 2011.
The date was set to be the next day (29th March 2011), he was arrested at the dawn of that day.

The Arrest
A group of masked men broke into his house at almost 1:30 am on 29th March 2011 and asked if he was Jawad then asked him to bring his identity card along.
They took him out of the house but another group went upstairs to arrest his younger brother, Muntadhar, who is also a student at the University of Bahrain.
Huge numbers of Police vehicles were outside of his house and surrounding it.
Note: Police mercenaries broke several doors and threatened the residents of the house by aiming guns to their heads.
Jawad’s hands were cuffed very tight which led to inflation in his left hand, he was hit on the head before he was taken into the police bus and he was insulted with many swear words on the way to the police station.

In ASRY Prison
He was tortured by using many tools (iron rods, hammers, plastic hoses, cable wires, police safety shoes, wood sticks, burning his body with cigarettes, spitting on his face/in his mouth, even urinating on him, etc…) by the police in ASRY Prison.
He and some others were taken to a small room and were forced to stand up since the dawn until the sunset of the next day, with some torture sessions from time to time.
The interrogation
He was interrogated while still blindfolded, handcuffed and barefoot. He was forced to sign confessions under sever torture to crimes allegedly committed in the university of Bahrain on 13th March 2011. Although he was at home that day, Jawad had to confess that he committed all crimes claimed to save him from dying under torture.

-          The interrogators always answered the questions instead of Jawad when he couldn't answer, which means the interrogator was certain that he is innocent.
-          During the investigation, the detainees were humiliated and insulted in many ways (in their honor, Religion, families, etc…)

After the interrogation
After the interrogation, Jawad was forced to sign covered Testimony of 4 pages while he was insulted again in his honor, Religion, etc…
He was then taken to the "Black Room" where he was thrown on the ground and beaten very hard by the torturers for almost 15 minutes and then when he was able to look around, he found other detainees standing against the wall and he knew some of them.
The first 12 days at ASRY Prison
-          Detainees were awaken everyday by police’s hit on the door at 5 am, note that detainees slept blindfolded and handcuffed to their backs (which makes it very difficult to sleep).
-          Detainees were subjected to torture sessions every day from 5 am until 9 am.
-          After 9 am the detainees had their breakfast (Small piece of cheese, 1 egg, 1 slice of bread and a cup of water) with their hands cuffed but in the front this time. During breakfast, they were also been hit by police to hurry up and rush through it.
-          After the breakfast, detainees were forced to stand up and when taken to the toilet to pee, the doors remains opened and their hands cuffed and the police looked at them.
-          After that they were forced to stand against the wall for about 5-6 hours with a torture session every half an hour.
-          For the first 5 days detainees were forced to sleep on the bare tile floor but after that, police brought some mattresses and blankets and they would beat the detainees, then pull them to the mattress, put the blanket on them and hit them again several times before they leave the cell.
-          It was cold during March but police intentionally turned on at least 2 Air Conditioners to make the cells even colder.
-          Detainees were blindfolded with a very tight stinky cloth, handcuffed, and forced to stand up all the time (except sleeping time) for the first 12 days. This in addition to the continuous hitting and torture during their sleep.
-          Detainees were allowed to use the toilet for only 10 seconds, if they were not finished they’d be pulled out of the WC to wet their pants.
-          Detainees were prevented from praying and practicing any religious tasks during those 12 days.
-          Detainees were forced to have some pills while blindfolded and they still don't know what they were and/or what they were for.

In Dry Docks Prison
-          Detainees were taken to Dry Docks Prison after spending 12 days at ASRY prison, and they remained there with no contact with their families for about 75 Days.
-          The first phone call for Jawad was in Dry Docks Prison on 14th June 2011. And the first visit from his family was on 21st June 2011. (Note: only 3 people were allowed to meet him that day AND the meeting was through a plastic divider between him and his family).
-          Conditions in Dry Docks Prison were a better than they were in ASRY Prison, but in Dry Docks they were detained with the drug cases convicts & people with criminal records.
-          For 3 and a half months, Jawad and his friends were not taken to the Prison Clinic and when allowed to have time outside the cells they remained handcuffed and blindfolded. (Note: They were not blindfolded nor handcuffed inside the detention rooms in Dry Dock Prison).
-          They were forced to cut their hair and to shave almost every 2 weeks. This continued for almost 3 months. Then the Prison’s Administration allowed the families to bring them a shaving machine.

Trip to the Court
Jawad was informed at 12 am once night that he has to be ready by 4 am without telling him the reason. At 4 am he was handcuffed from behind and blindfolded, then was beaten all the way to a bus.
The trip was to an unknown place, they made him leave the bus and was put in a Solitary confinement for almost an hour then taken to another bus but this time to the Military Court. Jawad faced the first court session without being informed, without informing his family and without informing a lawyer – or being allowed to appoint a lawyer.
When Jawad stepped down from the bus at the Military Court, he was beaten by Military soldiers pretending to be Ministry of interiors’ officers.
After the 5th Court session, the treatment during the trip from the Dry Docks prison to the military court became better as Jawad and other students were handcuffed from the front and not blindfolded.

On 10th July 2011 many detainees were released from the Dry Docks prison, including a number of University of Bahrain students.
On 8th August 2011, Muntadhar AlMahari* (Jawad's younger brother) and Mohammed Taqi (The 1st defendants in the University of Bahrain case) were released. Note: The release was with ensuring the place of their resident.
Improved conditions (August 2011):
-          More food and fruits.
-          Better treatment between the wardens and the political detainees.
-          They had 2 times to go out of their rooms for one hour each (one time after the sunset prayer and another time after 10 pm).
-          Phone calls were only once a week in the beginning but with days it became daily call for 5 minutes.
-          Families were now allowed to visit them once every week.
-          Families were allowed to bring food for the detainees; however the detainees must eat that food during the visit time without taking it in the cells.
-          Doors of the cells were open in the ward and a TV was installed to the detainees.
This letter was written in September 2011.
On 3rd October 2011, Jawad was sentenced to 15 years in prison and a cash fine for the following charges:
- Attempted murder
- Ignite fire in a government building (university Bahrain)
- Possession of incendiary materials and Molotov cocktails
- Vandalism of a government building (university of Bahrain)
- Unauthorized gathering and Incitement to hatred against the regime

 On 4th October 2011, Jawad was transferred to Jaw Prison to serve his sentence. On 2nd January 2012, the first appeal of the case was held. The session was postponed to 16th March 2012 without hearing any of the lawyers. The Judge refused to call the University of Bahrain’s president or head of security as witnesses

*Muntadhar AlMahari (Jawad's brother) who was released on 8th August 2011 was re-arrested on the 11th February 2012 in a house raid

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