Profiles in Persecution: Ali Husain AlTaraifi

Ali is a high school student in Jidhafs Secondary Industrial School for Boys, and he is a former volleyball player at the Bani Jamra Club. Ali was arrested several times, sometimes multiple times in one day; on 13 February 2014, when only 12, he was severely beaten by police. At aged 18, he was recently violently arrested and subjected to torture for 9 whole days. He remains in Dry Dock Detention Center.

On 13 November 2019, the playground of Diraz Park was surrounded by masked officers in civilian clothing and jeeps with officers from the riot police. They blocked the street and spread fear among people who were present at the park. Officers arrested a group of young people while they were playing football and Ali was among them. He was beaten and kicked by civilian and military forces using everything they had in their hands such as wooden and metal objects, and cables, in the backyard of AlHelli Supermarket. Ali was then driven and taken back to Diraz Park as they beat him.

Forces told him to make a scene of attacking a jeep and a bus, but Ali refused, which made them beat and kick him harder. Finally, they took him to the Mounted Police Station in Budaiya (Ministry of Interior [MOI], Unit Mounted). There, he was also beaten and kicked by a group of civilian and military forces, who took him to the backyard of the Mounted Police Station and released a group of police dogs on him and other detainees. He was then taken to Budaiya Police Station. On 14 November 2019, at 9.00, Ali was taken to the Qalah Hospital for examination and then to the Investigations Building in Jau Prison.

The authorities did not state the reason for the arrest and the family learned about it through a call they received from a person who saw the arrest and the transfer of Ali to Budaiya Police Station. After this information, Ali’s family went to the police station hoping to discover the reason behind Ali’s arrest. They were told that Ali was not there. Ali’s father told the officers that they had previously lied to them concerning another arrest of their son in the past, so they stayed in front of the station and insisted. After a long period of time, at around 1:30 am on 14 November 2019, a Lieutenant, who introduced himself as Bader, told them that Ali was accused of assaulting a jeep and impeding a bus used for public transportation. The Lieutenant still denied that Ali was at the police station.

On 14 and 15 November 2019, Ali made two phone calls to his family from two different numbers lasting only one second. He sounded tired and said that he was fine and at the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID). Ali’s father had previously been interrogated at the investigations building in Jau Prison for 17 days, so he knew that the victim is forced to say that he is located at the CID and say he is fine. Indeed, he quickly asked questions to his son to discover that he was in the investigations building in Jau Prison (building 15) and not at the CID. However, the family never received any official declaration confirming this.

Ali does not know the charges against him. However, he was tortured during interrogations in order to confess to committing terrorist acts. He was also asked about his relationship with some people and was charged with assaulting a jeep and a bus. Ali was threatened in order to force him to work as an informant. He was charged with other things that he does not know. He did not confess but was forced to sign a paper from the Public Prosecution Office (PPO) without knowing its contents.

On 21 November 2019, Ali was brought before the PPO, his lawyer was not allowed to attend. PPO decided to detain Ali for 60 days in pre-trial detention at the Dry Dock Detention. On 16 January 2020, the PPO decided in the presence of Ali and his lawyer to renew his pre-trial detention for another 60 days. On 18 March 2020, the pre-trial period was once again renewed, without the presence of Ali or his lawyer. Ali has not been tried and no date has been assigned yet. On the morning of 21 November 2019, Ali was at the PPO, then transferred to CID and to Qalah Hospital; finally, he was transferred to Dry Dock Detention Center during the night.

During interrogations, Ali was prohibited from calling or seeing his lawyer. His attorney was only present once, at the PPO during the second hearing on 16 January 2020. Ali was then only able to contact his lawyer about a month after being transferred to Dry Dock Detention.

Ali was tortured by officers from the Mounted Police Station and from Jau Prison, and by the officers who arrested him. The interrogation lasted 9 days during which Ali was constantly subjected to torture. He was interrogated all day long, for approximately 18 hours, where he was only able to sleep for a few hours. He was only permitted to sit for a few minutes and forced to stand handcuffed from the back with metal chains. Ali was subjected to electric shocks, beaten, kicked and his life was threatened. Additionally, officers threatened his family and subjected Ali to indecent language because of the sect he belongs to; they also insulted prominent religious leaders. Ali is prohibited from performing his religious rituals freely because he belongs to the Shiite religious sect. He was insulted during interrogations based on this fact. Ali was able to contact his family on 26 November for half an hour.

Ali has signs of beatings on his waist and other signs resulting from being electrocuted and is also unable to urinate. Ali had started a hunger strike to be taken to the medical clinic and his demand was answered a few days later. On 29 November and on 1 December 2019, he was taken to Al Salmaniya Hospital for X-rays due to signs of beatings and his inability to urinate. The family is unable to get the medical record of the X-rays because they are with the Ministry of Interior. Ali started another hunger strike on 8 April 2020 in protest at the fabrication of charges against him and the torture he has been subjected to. After a week, Ali stopped his hunger strike in the absence of a response from the authorities.

As mentioned, Ali was arrested several times in the past. This includes on 14 April 2018, in the middle of his final exams period, when he was detained for six months. He was released without being tried. Following the arrest, he was threatened several times by unknown individuals. Some civilian cars used to wander outside Ali’s house and on the roads he went to and talk  him on the phone to have work with them as an informant, but Ali refused. They arrested Ali’s father, and threatened him with Ali’s arrest claiming they could fabricate charges against him if he did not confess, which is what happened on 13 November. For example, when Ali’s father asked the workers in Diraz Park and some people who live there, they affirmed that no assault happened in the park. He also asked for the camera films around the MOI or restaurants that prove that Ali was only playing football. Ali remains at the Dry Dock Detention Center. His family does not have any news of his health situation as for the past two months there has been a prohibition on visits.

Recently, on 17 May 2020 Ali was able to make a call to his family. He told them that he was expected to have a hearing at the PPO on the same day, but he was brought before the PPO only the 14th May 2020. Ali has not been transferred to the PPO Building, he was taken with other detainees to a room in the Dry Dock Detention Center equipped with a big screen through which the judge and the accused communicate. During this communication, the judge was Egyptian and mispronounced Ali’s name. The judge told Ali the charges against him, including joining a terrorist cell belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) in Iran; training and armament, illegal Assembly; among many other charges. When Ali explained to the judge that he was tortured and forced to sign papers without knowing their content, asking to be released and tried in accordance with principles for a fair trial, the judge extended the period of his pre-trial detention for 30 days. Three days later, his lawyer learned of this decision.

The treatment Ali has been subjected to is a considerable violation of Bahrain’s international human rights obligation under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), conventions to which Bahrain is party. Ali was a minor when he was arrested the first time while subjected to torture. His arrest was warrantless, the charges against him remain unclear, he could not contact his lawyer or family, while aged 18. Lastly, he has been subjected to torture for 9 days, beaten and subjected to electric shocks. For all these reasons, Ali’s arrests, arbitrary detentions and interrogations are in violation of Articles 5, 7, 9, 10, 14, 17, 18, 19; regarding his right to hold opinions and practice his religion freely. The severe torture and degrading treatment he has been subjected to is a significant violation of the CAT.

Americans for Democracy & Human Rights (ADHRB) calls on the government of Bahrain for the immediate release of Ali in the absence of clearly established charges. Further, ADHRB calls on the government, without further ado, to investigate Ali’s allegations of torture, with a view to holding perpetrators accountable.