Profile in Persecution: Yusuf Ahmed Kadhem

Yusuf Ahmed Kadhem, a 21-year-old political prisoner, has been arrested several times on various charges pertaining to his political activism and participation in peaceful demonstrations. He was last arrested in June 2022 and is currently serving his sentence at Jau Prison.

Yusuf was first arrested on 23 September 2018, and he was detained for three months. He faced charges of illegal assembly, rioting, and manufacturing explosives and was sentenced to one year in prison. However, the execution of the sentence was suspended, and he was released after the trial. On 12 February 2019, Yusuf was arrested a second time from his house. He was detained in the Central Investigation Department (CID) for 20 days, after which he was transferred to the Dry Dock Detention Center. He was tried in two different cases with the first being illegal assembly and rioting, and the second a Highway bombing. He was sentenced to one year for the former case and two years for the latter. He was imprisoned for two years and two months and released under alternative sentencing in April 2021.

Yusuf was arrested for the third time on 7 October 2021. Officers summoned Yusuf on the evening of October 6 through a phone call to appear at the 17 Roundabout police station for questioning without mentioning the reasons. However, he was detained for one night and taken to Dry Dock Detention Center on the next day, where he was detained for three months on charges of opposing the normalization agreement between the Bahraini government and the Israeli occupation. He was then released as the trial continued.

The fourth and final arrest took place on 13 June 2022. At 4:30 in the morning, security forces raided the house, along with officers wearing civilian clothes and two women in civilian clothing. Some of the arresting forces were wearing masks in green jackets which read “Security accompanied by riot forces”. When the parents opened the door, they told Yusuf: “Come with us. You know you’ve been sentenced to a year in prison. You served 3 months in custody, and there are 9 months left. You can apply for alternative sentencing.” They handed over the arrest warrant to his father. This occurred after the First High Criminal Court had sentenced him in absentia to one year’s imprisonment on 31 May 2022 on charges of illegal assembly and rioting on 7 October 2021 and possession of flammable devices in an attempt to object to the normalization agreement between the Israeli occupation and Bahraini government. Yusuf missed court sessions because he couldn’t leave his job out of fear of being fired. The family filed for an appeal on 26 June 2022.

Yusuf’s family believes he did not mention the details of his torture and mistreatment out of fear for their feelings. Furthermore, Yusuf did not have access to a lawyer at any point of the interrogation, investigation, and trial.

Bahrain’s conviction of Yusuf for practicing his right to freedom of expression and assembly by opposing the normalization as well as the previous legal procedures against him on the grounds of illegal assembly violate international law, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Bahrain is a party to. Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain calls for the immediate release of all political prisoners, including Yusuf. ADHRB also calls on the government of Bahrain to take the necessary measures to ensure that all prisoners have a fair and impartial trial.