Profiles in Persecution: Ebrahim Marhoon

Ebrahim Marhoon was a student at the University of Bahrain until his arrest in November 2013. He was disappeared, tortured, stripped of his nationality, and denied medical care by the Bahraini authorities. The government is currently holding him in Jau Prison, Bahrain’s main long-term detention facility which is notorious for poor living conditions.

Marhoon was arrested without a warrant at his aunt’s house in November 2013. The authorities initially arrested him as a hostage in order to find and detain his brother, who was wanted on political grounds (other members of his family have also been arrested for this purpose). During Marhoon’s arrest, the officers raided his aunt’s house and beat him in front of his family. He was charged with organizing a terrorist cell, possessing explosives, and unlawful assembly and rioting. Security forces disappeared him for three days and tortured him for six days in order to coerce a confession. The torture included forced nudity and physical beatings. In April 2015, a court sentenced him to 15 years’ imprisonment and stripped him of his nationality.

In addition to being tortured, Marhoon has also had to suffer avoidable physical pain due to subsequent denial of access to healthcare. As a result of his abuse in 2013, his teeth were broken and a previous injury to his knee was aggravated. He and other detainees in Dry Dock Detention Center began a hunger strike in August 2014; after three days of the strike, officers beat him again as punishment. He also suffered a kidney infection during this time and was prevented from seeking treatment.

Moreover, the authorities have targeted Marhoon for observing religious rituals and violated his right to free belief. In Jau Prison, he has been punished for praying with a group to observe a Shia religious occasion. He and the others praying with him have been denied blankets, prevented from accessing the prison commissary to purchase food or hygiene products, and denied the ability to go outside to the prison yard for over three months. He still suffers from pain in his teeth and back, and has not been seen by a doctor despite multiple requests.

Bahrain’s actions against Marhoon violate international law, including the Convention Against Torture, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Articles 7 and 9), and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Article 12). Bahrain is a party to each of these treaties. ADHRB calls upon Bahrain to uphold its human rights obligations by annulling Marhoon’s conviction because his confession was obtained through torture, and ensuring that any subsequent trial is consistent with due process and fair trial rights. We additionally urge the authorities to investigate claims of torture, denial of healthcare, and religious discrimination by prison officials and to hold those officials accountable.