Profile in Persecution: Sayed Qasim Jalil Abdullah

Sayed Qasim Jalil Ali Abdullah is a young Bahraini from the village of Al-Dair in the city of Muharraq. He was 20 years old when he was arrested without judicial arrest warrant in 2018. He faced multiple human rights violations, including torture, enforced disappearance, and unfair mass trial. He was falsely charged with joining the “Bahraini Hezbollah Cell,” sentenced to ten years in prison, and is currently serving his sentence at Jau Prison. 

Sayed Qasim has been arrested five times, all related to expressing opinions and participating in democratic activism. The first arrest was in November 2011, lasting nine days when he was only thirteen years old. He was arrested again during Ramadan (July/August) 2012, and the third arrest came a year later in July 2013, lasting a year. Before completing his first year out of prison, he was re-arrested in June 2015. The fifth and final arrest occurred on the morning of 26 January 2018, from his home by plainclothes officers affiliated with the Ministry of Interior, without presenting an arrest warrant or court summons or stating the reason for the arrest. This happened during a wide security force raid on several homes in the Al-Dair area, related to their participation in the pro-democracy movement in Bahrain.

After his arrest, Sayed Qasim was allowed a brief call with his family, informing them that he was well and undergoing interrogation without providing further details. He then disappeared for 45 days, during which his family had no information about his whereabouts or condition. Since his first arrest, Sayed Qasim has suffered ill-treatment, threats, and torture to extract confessions. During interrogations, he endured psychological and physical torture by the Criminal Investigations Directorate, including being handcuffed, blindfolded, sleep-deprived, prevented from praying and from using the restroom, beaten with iron bars, forced to stand for long hours, and subjected to various forms of torture, such as electric shocks, sexual harassment, and placing shoes in his mouth. Alongside physical torture, Sayed Qasim endured psychological torture, including verbal abuse and threats to arrest his family if he did not confess to fabricated charges, negatively impacting his health and morale, with lasting effects.

On 16 April 2019, Sayed Qasim was tried as part of a mass trial involving 169 individuals convicted in the case of the “Bahraini Hezbollah,” accused of forming a terrorist group and joining it, among other charges. The defendants received varying sentences, including life imprisonment. Throughout his detention and trial, Sayed Qasim was denied legal representation, faced a trial lacking legal justice standards, and was charged with possessing and using firearms and ammunition for activities contrary to public security and order, resulting in a 10-year prison sentence and a fine of 500 Bahraini dinars, along with revocation of Bahraini citizenship. During this period, Sayed Qasim was not given sufficient time and facilities to prepare for the trial, unable to present evidence or challenge the charges against him. On 20 April 2019, his citizenship was reinstated through a royal pardon, and on 30 June 2019, the Court of Cassation upheld the verdict.

Despite being accused of crimes he did not commit and confessing under torture to one crime, the crime of joining the Bahraini Hezbollah cell, for which he was sentenced to 10 years in prison, Sayed Qasim continues to face new charges, aiming to increase his sentence, causing him constant insecurity and fear.

As a result of his repeated arrests, Sayed Qasim was deprived of educational opportunities, but this did not prevent him from completing his high school studies in prison. Despite harsh conditions, the lack of a suitable environment and conditions for learning, and restrictions and denial of basic student rights, he has managed to continue.

What Sayed Qasim has endured, including various forms of psychological and physical torture, arbitrary arrest, and enforced disappearance, constitutes a blatant violation of his human rights. His arrest without judicial authorization, torture, and unfair trial conflict with the Convention Against Torture (CAT) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), both of which Bahrain is a party to. Therefore, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) calls on Bahraini authorities to release Sayed Qasim, who has not been given a fair trial, and to investigate the torture and ill-treatment he endured. ADHRB also urges Bahraini authorities to stop the policy of impunity and hold those involved in the torture and various violations against Sayed Qasim accountable