Profile in Persecution: Mahmood Nooh AlSaeed

Mahmood Nooh AlSaeed was 30 years old when he was arrested. Prior to his arrest, Mahmood was being persecuted for his political participation in peaceful demonstrations since 2011. Mahmood has been subjected to severe medical negligence, especially amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. He is currently held at Jau Prison where his health continues to deteriorate.

On 14 January 2017 at approximately 1 p.m., riot police, Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID), and National Security Agency (NSA) officers, aided by civilian cars and a helicopter, raided the village of Ma’ameer. Mahmood was staying with two of his close friends at their house when it was raided. While trying to escape, Mahmood fell from the three-story house and remained lying on the ground for a long time until Special Security officers arrested him without presenting a warrant. While no reason for the arrest was stated when it took place, Mahmood’s father had received a summons to have Mahmood appear before court; however, neither Mahmood nor his lawyer attended the court sessions held before his arrest. As a result, the judgments were issued in absentia against Mahmood, and his family only knew about them through the parents of other defendants involved in the same cases. Mahmood was being persecuted for his participation in the peaceful protests calling for democracy since 2011. In the same year, Mahmood was seriously injured in the head and the face, and in 2014, he was injured with shotgun pellets by Special Security Forces during violent repression of a demonstration in his town.

Five days after the arrest, Mahmood contacted his family to inform them that he was at the CID. He told them that he was fine and would only call when necessary. The phone call lasted for only two minutes, and news about Mahmood was cut off for a while. Later, Mahmood’s family learned that the number their son called from belonged to Al-Qalaa Hospital, not the CID. In truth, Mahmood was transferred to Al-Qalaa hospital on the same day of the arrest; however, his family was being misled about his whereabouts.

At the hospital, Mahmood was neither treated for the injuries he sustained from the fall, nor was he interrogated. Instead, he was placed in a single room where he was treated by only being given an IV drip in order to rid his body of the bruises sustained during the arrest. Mahmood required an urgent surgery because he suffered multiple fractures in his feet, but the process was delayed during the month and a half he spent at the hospital, which caused the fractures to heal in a wrong way. If he wanted to go to the bathroom, he would not receive any help despite not being able to walk. Instead, he would be forced to crawl to reach the bathroom which was far away from his room. Even after approximately four months of the arrest, Mahmood was still walking on crutches and his feet were swollen and dark blue. He is still unable to walk properly.

Mahmood was forcibly disappeared for a month and a half at Al-Qalaa hospital. On 2 March 2017, his parents received approval for their request to visit Mahmood at the hospital by Court order. However, on the same day they received the approval, at 11 p.m., Mahmood was transferred to Jau Prison where he called his family to inform them of his new location.

Mahmood was charged in five cases: 1) illegal assembly and rioting, destruction and possession of flammable and explosive devices; 2) criminal arson, illegal assembly and rioting, possession of flammable and explosive devices; 3) fraud and issuing a check in Bad Faith; 4) illegal assembly and rioting, destruction with negligence, possession and manufacturing of usable and explosive devices; and 5) illegal assembly and rioting, arson, the possession and manufacturing of explosive and usable devices, and intentionally endangering a private means of transportation. Consequently, he was sentenced to: 1) two years in prison in absentia on 17 February 2015; 2)  five years in prison in the presence of his lawyer on 14 April 2014 3) pay a fine of 50 Bahraini Dinars in absentia on 27 January 2015; 4) two years in prison in absentia on 17 November 2015; and 5) seven years in prison and the confiscation of seizures in the presence of his lawyer on 23 June 2016. After the appeal, the total of his sentences was reduced from 16 years to 10 years.

Despite still suffering from deteriorating medical conditions, the Prison Administration has consistently refused to take Mahmood to all his medical appointments, including ones to the Orthopedic department. Initially, after several attempts, Mahmood was taken to the Salmaniya Medical Complex to be examined for his stomach pains. It is possible that he is suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). However, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic which spread at Jau Prison, Mahmood is still not being taken to his appointments, including an Internal Medicine Clinic appointment needed to undergo an endoscopic surgery.

As the Prison Administration has exploited the pandemic to impose new restrictions on the prisoners, Mahmood, like others, is only allowed to contact his family virtually for 10 minutes, once a month. However, due to the lack of privacy, Mahmood refuses to contact his family in this manner and continues to try to conceal his worsening health out of fear for their feelings.

The actions committed by the Bahraini government against Mahmood all constitute violations of the Bahraini Constitution and International Law treaties to which Bahrain is a signatory such as the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The inhumane medical negligence Mahmood has been subjected to, especially amidst the fatal COVID-19 Pandemic, is a blatant violation of the Mandela Rules. As such, ADHRB calls on the Government of Bahrain to offer medical treatment to Mahmood and to drop all the unfounded charges against him and other political prisoners.