Profile in Persecution: Ahmed Khalil Ahmed

Ahmed Khalil Ahmed, a Bahraini General Medicine Graduate, was arbitrarily arrested from his parents in law’s house one night in November 2015, after it had been broken into by masked men in civilian clothes, riot police officers and National Security Agency officers. During his arrest, interrogation and imprisonment, he was subjected to severe methods of torture and ill treatment. Ahmed was one of the 115 (out of 138) Bahraini citizens convicted by the Bahraini Fourth High Criminal Court on 15 May 2018, for their alleged involvement in a terrorist cell, called the “Zulfiqar Brigades”. Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) raised a complaint through the UN Complaint Program concerning the convicted individuals in this particular case. He was sentenced to life in prison and was stripped of his nationality. He now resides in Jau Prison in Bahrain with the rest of his inmates convicted in the same case.

Ahmed was arrested on 3 November 2015 from his parents’ in law’s house in the village of Karbabad at 2 am, where there was no arrest warrant issued nor a reason for the arrest. Masked men dressed in civilian clothes, riot police officers, and National Security Agency officers, jumped over the home’s fence and broke in unannounced. Electronic devices, such as cellphones and personal computers, belonging to Ahmed, his wife and his father in law were confiscated. Following his arrest from his father in law’s house, they took him to his father’s house, broke the gate of the garage, which was repurposed as Ahmed’s office. They destroyed many of his possessions, the house’s kitchenware and even some medical supplies. In addition, they confiscated money from Ahmad’s room, along with his car. Ahmed’s parents were taken and locked into different rooms, while the forces planted evidence in the house to be used against Ahmed later on. Even Ahmed’s younger brother’s toy guns were placed in Ahmed’s room as weapons. His privacy was gravely violated when the forces took all his personal photos of his and his wife’s engagement, where she was without a veil.

Following his arrest on 3 November 2015, Ahmed’s whereabouts were not disclosed for almost three weeks, which turned out later on to be his interrogation period. After that, Ahmed contacted his family to inform them that he was in the Criminal Investigation Directorate throughout the interrogation period. However, he was being transferred between the interrogation facility in Building 15 of Jau prison and the Criminal Investigation Directorate during this period. At the time of interrogation, Ahmed was prevented from contacting his family and his lawyer. He was severely tortured and threatened with his family, if he failed to cooperate with the forces interrogating him. Therefore, he preferred to confess to everything they interrogated him about under torture, to prevent any harm that could reach his family. He signed a paper with the charges written on it, while blindfolded, and without knowing what the content was. Ahmed was subjected to physical and psychological abuse during interrogation, ill treatment, insults to him and his family, where when he tried to defend them he was beaten and deprived of sleep and food, and forced to stand for hours. Ahmed was kept in the Criminal Investigation Directorate for a total of two months until he was transferred after interrogation to the Dry Dock Detention Center in January 2016 for a long while. He was then taken to Jau Prison on 25 June 2018, where he now resides.

Ahmed, along with 115 other Bahraini citizens, who were convicted on 15 May 2018, for his involvement in a terrorist cell, called the “Zulfiqar Brigades”, was sentenced to life imprisonment and was denaturalized. He was charged with: 1) training to the use of fire arms and explosive devices for terrorist purposes (to head to the Iranian Revolutionary guard in Iran, and to the Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades), 2) obtaining unlicensed explosives, that could be used to jeopardize security and public order, and 3) possessing unlicensed firearms, that could be used for terrorist aims to threaten safety and public order. It is necessary to mention that Ahmed’s sentence was in absentia, where both Ahmed and lawyer were not present when the verdict was issued. He was also not informed of the verdict until 12 hours after it was issued. His case was scheduled to be appealed on 28 January 2018, but then postponed until 12 September 2018, for lack of evidence, and eye-witnesses. However, his case was not upheld until 28 January 2019 in a mass trial for the “Zulfiqar Brigades” case. Later on, on the 1st of July 2019, Ahmed’s case passed through the Court of Cassation and was upheld. On that day, Ahmed’s nationality was reinstated in accordance with a royal pardon issued in April 2019 for 551 people who were arbitrarily stripped of their citizenship by courts in Bahrain. During the trials that were postponed, the victims, including Ahmed, were taken to the court early in the morning, and were left waiting for hours in the bus, with complete disregard for the weather, and in the corridors of the building, to be eventually told that the hearing is postponed. Ahmed was sentenced on the basis of several articles of the criminal code, the protection of peoples from terrorist activities, and explosive devices, weapons and ammunition.

According to his family, Ahmed was completely deprived from all his rights as a prisoner. When he was transferred to the Dry Dock Detention center, two months after his arrest in January 2016, he also faced several methods of torture. He was forced to stand for long hours while deprived of food and water, he was subjected to beatings for no particular reasons, and deprived of sleep, if allowed any. He was also denied prayer and the practice of religious rituals and events, such as reading the Quran. The prison guards used to always go through the prisoners’ belongings and deliberately take some of their personal items and clothes to destroy or confiscate them. He was completely isolated from the outside world and was prevented from communicating to his family and lawyer. Ahmed’s family believes that their son was tortured for political and sectarian reasons, just like the rest of his inmates, to insult him and his family, and because he was a doctor. Despite all of that, Ahmed refused to disclose anything about his situation in prison to his family, in fear of resentment. 

Ahmed’s family filed complaints to the Ministry of Interior’s Ombudsman’s office at the Dry Dock Detention Center regarding Ahmed’s stolen items, however they were kicked out and denied access to the building. The family also tried to retrieve Ahmed’s stolen belongings at the time of arrest, but an official assured them that it is “useless” to claim them, because an auction was made to sell the electronic devices and tools that were stolen. Ahmed’s family also could not retrieve his engagement ceremony’s pictures, because the authorities claimed that it is not relevant to the case, and it does not benefit anyone in any way.

In a published opinion of the United Nations’ Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD), on the case of “Zulfiqar Brigades”, the deprivation of liberty of this case’s victims, is in contravention of articles 6, 8, 9, 10 and 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and articles 2(3), 9, 14 and 16 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (CED), and the CRC – Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), are all violated in Ahmed’s case. It also violates several Human Rights International treaties and the Bahraini Constitution. Articles 19.b, 19.d on personal freedom, and Article 20 on Criminal Trials of the Bahraini Constitution, are an example of violations the Bahraini Government committed.

Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) urges the Bahraini Government to abide by their international responsibility to promote and protect Human Rights in the country. We ask the Bahraini Government to preserve a fair and proper treatment of their prisoners, and to allow them their basic Human Rights. ADHRB calls on the government to hold perpetrators accountable while looking into allegations of torture and ill treatment and for Ahmed’s immediate release after conducting a fair and just trial.