Profile in Persecution: Mahmood Saeed Ahmed Isa Abdulla

Mahmood Saeed Abdullah was an 18 years old freshman in college when he was arrested from his house in Nabih Saleh, Bahrain on 3 November 2015. Mahmood was one of 115 Bahraini citizens convicted by the Bahraini Fourth High Criminal Court on 15 May 2018, for alleged involvement in a terrorist cell, called the “Zulfiqar Brigades”. On this date, Mahmood was sentenced to life in prison and denaturalized. Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) raised a complaint through the UN Complaint Program concerning the twenty  convicted individuals in this particular case. He was subjected to severe forms of torture and ill treatment throughout his arrest, investigation, and imprisonment. He currently resides in the Dry Dock Detention Center for under 21 year olds.

Masked men in civilian clothes, along with men wearing black clothes and military personnel broke into his house and raided it without a warrant. There were also black commando’s cars waiting outside the house. These men came to Mahmood’s house, searched it without a warrant, vandalized it, and took many of Mahmood’s belongings and electronics. Then, they took Mahmood’s mother into a room and female police searched her.

Mahmood was subject to an enforced disappearance for almost a month; from the date of his arrest on 3 November 2015 until 30 November 2015, when Mahmood told his family that he was in the Dry Dock Detention Center. Throughout these days, Mahmood’s family did not know anything about their son’s whereabouts, and when they went to ask about him, they were denied entry and did not receive any information. Eventually, Mahmood was first able to meet his family on 5 December 2015. After he was arrested, Mahmood was taken to the Criminal Investigation Directorate where he was severely tortured and abused. He was also taken to the Investigation facility in Building 15 of Jau Prison, known to be “the place of torture”. Mahmood faced physical and psychological torture; where he was subject to harsh beatings and electric shocks, insulted, and deprived of food and drinks. He was pressured to confess when officers put a woman, portrayed as his mother, behind barriers. Moreover, during the interrogation period, Mahmood was transferred to a weapon’s warehouse, without his knowledge because he was always blindfolded, and then officers accused him there of possessing and transferring weapons. The torture mainly took place in the Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID) and Building 15 of Jau Prison, by CID officers and those thought to be from the National Security Agency officers (for wearing black, according to Mahmood). He now resides in the convicted department in the New Dry Dock prison for under 21 year olds.

Although he was still a minor, on 15 May 2018, Mahmood, among 115 Bahrainis, was convicted for his involvement in the “Zulfiqar Brigades” case and sentenced to life imprisonment, stripped of his nationality, and fined with an amount reaching to almost 483,000 BHD. Throughout his pre-trial detention, Mahmood was denied access to his attorney. Throughout the trial process, the prosecution and the Court did not allow him to speak. The prosecution even resorted to threatening his parents’ safety, especially his mother’s. Further, Mahmood was not allowed to attend all Court sessions -attending only two or three sessions.

He was charged for: 1) Detonating a bomb in the Muharraq area, 2) Planting false explosives in a public place, 3) Obtaining, confiscating, and using explosive devices without a permit, 4) Intentionally damaging the property of the Ministry of Labor for terrorist purposes, and 5) Destroying and damaging private properties for terrorist purposes; Mahmood’s sentence was upheld in the appeal court on 28 January 2019, in a mass trial for the “Zulfiqar Brigades” case, and 6) joining a terrorist cell in hopes to overthrow the Bahraini Government. and passed through the Court of Cassation and was upheld on 1 July 2019, where Mahmood’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.

Mahmood was eventually transferred to the convicted department of the Dry Dock Detention Center for those under 21 years old, where he was imprisoned. Due the torture he was subjected to during the interrogation Mahmood suffered from several injuries, including pain in the ear and nosebleeds, for which he did not receive any treatment.

Mahmood’s family filed several complaints to the Ministry of Interior’s Ombudsman Office, in December 2015 and another in April 2017, about their son’s whereabouts, the ill treatment he received and torture. The family did not receive any attention or response to these complaints, except one phone call to Mahmood’s father about the first complaint.

In December 2018, Mahmood was transferred to solitary confinement in the isolation building of the New Dry Dock prison, for approximately nine months, until August 2019. Mahmood and his inmates in solitary were deprived of going out in the sun, except for only 15 minutes while they were handcuffed. Mahmood suffered from multiple harassments during his detention, such as officers going through his personal things and unrightfully confiscating some of them. According to his family, Mahmood was tortured to be forced to confess to things he did not do, and because of hatred and grudge. He was also subject to discrimination because of his religious sectarian belief (the Shia sect). He and his inmates were prevented from performing any religious practices or rituals, and were prohibited from reading religious books related to his sect, and punished if they did so.  He was put in solitary confinement several times and stayed there for extended periods of time.

According to the WGAD, in their published opinion on the case of “Zulfiqar Brigades”, the deprivation of liberty of Ahmed, and others with similar cases, 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. Mahmood’s case breaches 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. 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 also violated in Mahmood’s case.

Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) urges the Bahraini Government to hold their responsibility to promote and protect Human Rights in the country. ADHRB calls on the government to look into allegations of torture and to hold perpetrators accountable for these actions. We ask to preserve a fair trial for the accused, and to provide the necessary medical care for the injured prisoners.