Profile in persecution: Ammar Abdulghani Abdulla

Ammar Abdulghani Abdulla is a Bahraini student who was warrantlessly arrested in 2017, and has been subjected to multiple human rights violations on multiple occasions, including torture and unfair trial. He was charged in multiple cases and is currently serving his sentence at Jau prison. Since August 2022, Ammar has been placed in isolation among 13 of his fellow prisoners, where they are being subjected to more severe violations.

In 2014, Ammar was pursued and arrested for about six months when he was still only in elementary school. In 2015 and until his arrest in 2017, he was wanted for political cases. On 26 June 2017, Ammar was chased by officers from the Ministry of Interior, including riot police and security police forces, as well as Criminal Investigations Directorate officers, and arrested from al-Sanabis area. Authorities did not present an arrest warran,t but many summons were previously sent for him, and his house was raided many times. His was subjected to an enforced disappearance, and his family did not know about his arrest until two days later, when he called to inform them about it.

His investigation took place at the Criminal Investigations Directorate, where Ammar was beaten and tortured physically and psychologically. He was beaten all over his body and subjected to different methods of torture. He did not tell his family details of his torture because he was worried about their feelings. He was then transferred to Dry Dock Detention Center, after which his family did not receive any news concerning him for a substantial length of time. He was placed in solitary confinement several times while at Dry Dock. Three months after his arrest, Ammar ran away from court and was captured in Ra’as al-Riman. He did not have a lawyer and was not able to prepare for trial, nor given the opportunity to present and challenge evidence presented against him in trial.

He was charged in multiple cases including illegal assembly, assaulting a community worker, and other charges that he did not know about, and was sentenced to 18 years of imprisonment. Ammar served approximately three years of his sentence in solitary confinement and security isolation at Dry Dock. In April 2021, he was transferred to Jau Prison after turning 21.

In February 2022, Ammar was infected with COVID-19, after which news of him abruptly ended. More than seven prisoners contacted his family telling them he was in great danger, and he was completely cut off from the outside world. He was only able to call his family twice for less than two minutes, during which time he reassured them that he is was well before the line was cut. He was also placed in solitary confinement in different buildings for a long period. His family was very concerned and did not know what he went through and whether he was still alive or not. Later on, his parents were informed that Ammar had an intense argument with a prison officer after he demanded to call his family. As a result, he ended up in solitary confinement and then isolation.

On 10 August 2022, Ammar was transferred to the isolation building along with 14 other prisoners, after which the family received no news of him for some time. This transfer was done gradually and under the supervision of officers in civilian clothing, starting from 9 August 2022. The officers raided building number five, and each time they transferred a group of prisoners. During isolation, the 14 prisoners, including Ammar, were subjected to countless violations. Immediately after their arrest, they remained constantly handcuffed for a week straight, preventing them from practicing their daily life normally.

On Monday 5 September 2022, authorities canceled all visits for the 14 prisoners under different pretexts. Moreover, they had been subjected to severe torture, as four of them were in a critical condition at Al-Qalaa hospital and some could lose their lives. Some of the prisoners had sent distress voice messages, asking everyone to come and help them or else they would die.

On 12 September 2022, more information about Ammar was reported. He was transferred from solitary confinement back into his cell where, his health condition deteriorated. He felt a severe pain and his body went numb, and he felt as if he was going to die before he fell on the floor. They presented him before a doctor, and he was informed that the problem could be in his heart. However, he received no treatment. On 21 September, authorities started implementing the solitary confinement penalty against the 14 prisoners, so that seven prisoners would be admitted to solitary confinement and kept for seven days, and then the remaining seven were admitted after the first batch is released. Moreover, 10 of the political prisoners, including Ammar, were brought before the Criminal Court and were charged with trying to help other prisoners escape. On 6 November 2022, Ammar was sentenced to an additional seven years of imprisonment in connection with the escape attempt case, making the total of his sentence 21 years.

On 29 December 2022, in the presence of the correctional emergency response team, the prisoners were asked to turn over all of their belongings, such as clothes and even the food that they bought with their own money from the prison market, without any explanation. The prisoners have confirmed that they are regularly subjected to more harsh sanctions during the days before the national holidays, especially on Fridays and Sundays. Moreover, on 3 January 2023, the 14 prisoners were transferred into new cells that did not contain beds, television, or any hygiene products. They continue to endure severe beatings, and one officer stepped on their necks.

The prison administration did not allow Ammar’s family to give him any clothes since the beginning of his arrest; all of his clothes are worn out and do not fit him anymore since he has grown up.

Ammar’s warrantless arrest, torture and unfair trial go against the Convention against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) and the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), both of which Bahrain is party to. Moreover, the countless violations that he faced during his imprisonment, including being placed in isolation as well as medical negligence, is a violation of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. As such, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) calls on the Bahraini authorities to immediately release Ammar, who was denied a fair trial and due process rights and to investigate the allegations of torture and ill treatment and hold perpetrators accountable. Furthermore, ADHRB urges the relevant authorities to immediately end the isolation of all 14 prisoners, including Ammar, and provide them with their rights.