Profile in Persecution: Mohamed AbdulNabi Abdulla (Al-Khoor)

Mohamed AbdulNabi Abdulla, also known as Mohamed Al-Khoor, was an 18-year-old law student at the University of Bahrain, in addition to working as a bus driver, when he was arbitrarily arrested by Bahraini authorities on 29 August 2014. During his detention, he was subjected to several human rights violations. He is currently held at the Dry Dock Detention Center.

At 2 a.m. on 29 August 2014, police officers and officers in civilian clothes broke into the house of Mohamed’s friend where Mohamed was present at that time without presenting any arrest or search warrant. Mohamed was arrested and then taken to the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID), where he was interrogated for 15 days. The reason for his arrest, according to authorities, was the protests occurring in the area where he lives as well as the terrorist acts taking place in Karana.

During the first 13 days at the CID, Mohamed was subjected to enforced disappearance, as his parents had no idea about his location or his whereabouts, and his lawyer was unable to attend the interrogations during the whole interrogation period, since he was prohibited from knowing both his location and the charges against Mohamed. Three days after his arrest, Mohamed was brought to the scene of the Karana explosion, Karana seacoast, where he was filmed playing the role he was accused of.

During the interrogation period, Mohamed was physically and mentally tortured by CID officers. He was insulted, forced to stand up for a long period of time until he fainted, deprived from water and food for three consecutive days, beaten, kicked, stomped on his head and body, dragged on the floor, and forbidden from using the toilet or from changing his clothes for 15 days. He was also prohibited from meeting anyone during this period, and his bus was confiscated for 7 months. Fifteen days after his arrest, he was transferred to the Dry Dock Detention Center.

Mohamed was also tortured at the Dry Dock Detention Center in order to force him to confess. He was beaten and put in solitary confinement. Five days after his transfer to the Dry Dock Detention Center, he was able to meet his parents for the first time since his arrest, and they noticed signs of fatigue and exhaustion due to him being in solitary confinement. After this visit, Mohamed was prohibited from meeting his family for 2 and a half years. Indeed, under this treatment and torture, he was forced into giving a false confession, and he also suffered from some health complications as a result of torture. Mohamed suffered from dehydration and lack of vitamins and was taken to the Qalaa Hospital 3 times for blood transfusions equating to 32 blood bags because of the anemia he suffered, even though he did not suffer from any disease or weakness prior to the arrest.

As a result of the treatment he faced, Mohamed filed two complaints on 29 October 2015 and on 26 February 2016, which did not produce any outcome. Also, his family had sent a letter to the UK ambassador in Bahrain on 9 February 2016, expressing concern about the trial and Mohamed’s mistreatment through his arrest, interrogation, and detention.

Mohamed did not have adequate time and facilities to prepare for trial, he was denied access to his attorney, and he, along with other defendants in the same case, was refused to be taken to court during one of the hearings, which prevented him from defending himself. Also, his false confessions were used against him in the trial even though insufficient evidence was presented against him. Consequently, Mohamed was convicted of: 1) Joining a terrorist cell that carried out terrorist acts in the Karana region, 2) Participation in the deliberate and premeditated killing of a number of policemen, 3) Bombing with intent to carry out a terrorist purpose, 4) Intentional use of firecrackers, 5) Possession, along with others, without authorization of two explosive devices with the intent to use them for a terrorist purpose, 6) Participating in an assembly in a public place for the purpose of committing crimes and disrupting public security, 7) and Possession and manufacture of flammable canisters. On 1 February 2018, he was sentenced to life imprisonment, in addition to the revocation of his nationality. However, his nationality was restored to him under a royal pardon. On 28 February 2018, Mohamed was sentenced to a fine of 50 Bahraini dinars for insulting a public employee while he was in Dry Dock Detention Center.

Since the date of his arrest, Mohamed has been subject to discrimination due to his Jaafari Shia sect and political opinion. He was prevented from performing prayer in congregation, and he was banned from practicing his different religious rituals and from reading books of the Jaafari sect.

Since July 2020, Mohamed’s health has begun to deteriorate as he began to suffer from pain in the joints and the ear, and as a result, he was no longer able to do any work that requires a specific effort. He has constantly asked the prison administration and the prison’s health committee to present him to a specialized doctor for treatment, but, despite all this, he did not receive treatment, was not transferred to the hospital, and was not presented to a specialist doctor. The prison administration only resorted to prescribing some painkillers for him in the clinics.

On 1 January 2021, Mohamed entered an open hunger strike for 11 days due to the prison administration’s stalling in providing him with appropriate medical treatment and its negligence of his request to be transferred to a specialist. During the strike period, the prison administration did not take any measure to provide medical care to him, and the only action that it took was measuring his blood sugar level daily. On 11 January 2021, when Mohamed was about to die due to the decrease in the sugar level, reaching 3 percent as a result of the strike, and after news of his hunger strike was extensively shared by a number of activists, the prison director visited Mohamed in prison and promised to transfer him to the General Security Hospital and to present him to a specialist doctor; therefore, Mohamed decided to end the strike. Twelve days after ending the strike, Mohamed was transferred to Qala’a Hospital, where he was presented to an orthopedist. However, the doctor did not order an X-ray that would determine the causes of the pain in the joints and the ear, therefore Mohamed refused the treatment and demanded an adequate one.

As a result, he was transferred to Building 16 of the Dry Dock Detention Center, which is designated for medical isolation, where the prison’s administration ordered to present him to a specialized nose and ears doctor. On 24 January, Mohamed refused to be diagnosed, since he believed that he will not be treated properly, and that this visit would not have any outcomes other than whitewashing the prison’s administration page and violations. On that same day, the Medical Isolation Department of the Dry Dock Detention Center met with Mohamed and asked him to sign a form saying that he refused to be medically treated. He refused to sign and, with cameras recording him, confirmed that he did not refuse treatment, since he is indeed suffering. Rather, he confirmed his demand, which he has reiterated for months, for real treatment under the supervision of specialized doctors.

Mohamed’s warrantless arrest, confiscation of his bus, enforced disappearance, denial of access to his attorney, torture, prohibition of meeting his parents, unfair trial, religious discrimination based on his belonging to the Shia sect, and denial of medical treatment violate both the Bahraini Constitution as well as international obligations to which Bahrain is party, namely, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). Since an arrest warrant was not presented and given that Mohamed’s conviction depended on a forced false confession, we can conclude that Mohamed is arbitrarily detained by Bahraini authorities.

Accordingly, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) calls upon Bahrain to uphold its human rights obligations by investigating all torture allegations to ensure accountability, and by holding a fair retrial for Mohamed which meets international standards. ADHRB also urges Bahrain to investigate all the enforced disappearance allegations, the religious discrimination allegations, and allegations concerning violations of the right to fair trial. ADHRB finally urges authorities to offer the necessary and adequate medical care for Mohamed to treat his deteriorating health.