Profile in Persecution: Sayed Adnan MajedHashem

Sayed Adnan Majed Hashem was a 22-year-old worker at Al-Manhal water factory when he was arrested in October 2018, for the fourth time in his life, from a house in AlDair. Since his detention, Sayed Adnan has suffered physical and psychological torture, as well as religious discrimination at the hands of the Bahraini authorities. He remains at Jau Prison, where he is completing a sentence amounting to almost three decades.

Sayed Adnan was arrested for the first time in 2014 as he was returning from Etehad AlReef Club Stadium in the Shahrakan area with a group of players from the Abu Quwa team after their victory in the Youth Centers Championship. They were in a bus and were honking the horn in celebration of their victory when the security forces stopped and arrested them because their honking was allegedly illegal. The second time that Sayed Adnan was arrested was in mid-September of 2015 when he was visiting his grandfather’s house in Al-Daih. On that day, there were political demonstrations and Sayed Adnan was chased after and arrested by security forces. He was detained for around a month and a half before being released without any judgement being issued against him.

In 2016, Sayed Adnan was arrested for the third time, when security forces and armed masked men affiliated with the Ministry of Interior stormed into his father’s house late at night and arrested him, failing to present any arrest warrant or order from the Public Prosecution Office (PPO). Upon his arrest, Sayed Adnan was taken to the CID where he was held for 12 days. On the twelfth day, he called his family and asked them to bring him clothes as he was being transferred to Dry Dock Detention Center. A while later, he was released from prison on bail, awaiting trial. After his release, as his case proceeded, Sayed Adnan was summoned multiple times, and his house was constantly raided, but he would not be there. Knowing that he was wanted, Sayed Adnan did not attend his trial sessions out of fear of being arrested at court. During Sayed Adnan’s arrest in 2016, his father visited him and saw traces of torture on his face. He informed Sayed Adnan’s lawyer about the matter, and she filed a complaint asking for the policeman responsible for Sayed Adnan’s torture to be held accountable. However, since Sayed Adnan did not attend his court sessions, the matter was not further addressed.

Sayed Adnan’s latest arrest took place on 30 October 2018 when officers in civilian clothing arrested him without a warrant from a house in AlDair, and he was taken to the investigations unit in Jau Prison and then to the CID in Adliya. Sayed Adnan was forcibly disappeared for ten to 12 days as his family was unaware of his fate or whereabouts. They contacted the Ombudsman and the CID to inquire about Sayed Adnan but received no answer. Ten to 12 days later, Sayed Adnan called them and informed them of his location.

During that time, Sayed Adnan was interrogated without a lawyer at both the CID in Jau Prison and in Adliya. There, armed masked officers in civilian clothing psychologically and physically tortured him in order to extract false confessions from him. They threatened to bring in one of his sisters and to sexually assault him if he did not cooperate; they also insulted his religious sect and its symbols. They severely beat him on parts of his body that would not be visible such as his stomach, back and thighs, they blindfolded him, and prevented him from contacting his family. Sayed Adnan suffers from severe pain in his knee as a result of shotgun pellet injuries he sustained while he was chased by authorities after participating in a peaceful demonstration in 2014. Despite asking to see a doctor, he has not been examined, and the prison administration refused to provide him with a cream to help relieve his pain.

Numerous charges related to committing terrorist acts such as arson, negligent destruction, manufacturing explosives, illegal assembly and rioting were held against Sayed Adnan, who was involved in nine cases. Between 2016 and 2020, he was sentenced to a total of 27 and a half years in prison and was fined around 101,000 Bahrain Dinars. Throughout the interrogation and trial period, Sayed Adnan was denied access to his lawyer, and his confessions, extracted under torture, were used in court as evidence to incriminate him. Around a month and a half after his arrest, Sayed Adnan was transferred from the CID to Jau Prison after the judgements against him were issued in absentia.

Sayed Adnan was only able to meet his family over a month after his arrest. In mid-2019, communication with Sayed Adnan was cut off. His family was informed by other inmates that he had been transferred to the investigation building where he stayed for 14 days. One inmate reported seeing him in court and said that there were signs of torture on his body. He then contacted Sayed Adnan’s family and explained to them that the reason behind his torture was to extract confessions to the charges attributed to him.

Sayed Adnan’s family submitted several complaints to the NIHR and Ombudsman regarding his torture and ill-treatment but to no avail. Sayed Adnan’s family also submitted a complaint following the events of 17 April 2021 at Jau Prison[1], but there was no follow-up by authorities. In prison, Sayed Adnan is subjected to discrimination based on his belonging to the Shiite religious sect.

Bahraini authorities’ treatment of Sayed Adnan, from his multiple arbitrary and warrantless arrests, forced disappearance, denial of fair trial and due process rights, torture and ill-treatment, and religious discrimination,  all constitute violations of Bahrain’s obligations under the Bahraini Constitution and under international treaties, namely the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Therefore, ADHRB urges authorities to immediately grant Sayed Adnan a retrial that respects international evidentiary standards, and that does not rely on fabricated charges and false confessions extracted under duress. Finally, ADHRB calls upon authorities to urgently investigate allegations of torture with a view to holding the responsible officers accountable.

[1] On 17 April 2021, a number of prisoners in Jau prison, Building 13, ward 2, carried out a sit-in to protest the death of a fellow inmate and the lack of adequate health care in light of the pandemic. In response, prison guards brutally repressed the sit-in, assaulting and torturing up to 35 prisoners.