Profile in Persecution: Sayed Hussain Hashim Alawi Fardan

Sayed Hussain Hashim Alawi Fardan was a 17-year-old minor when Bahraini authorities arrested him at a gas station in Sitra Industrial City on 31 March 2013, without providing an arrest warrant. During his detention, he was subjected to torture, enforced disappearance, solitary confinement, sexual harassment, denial of access to his lawyer during interrogation, an unfair trial based on confessions extracted under torture, and medical negligence. He is currently serving a 51-year prison sentence in Jau Prison on politically motivated charges related to his participation in the pro-democracy movement.

On 31 March 2013, Sayed Hussain was apprehended along with two of his friends after an ambush carried out by a group of plainclothes officers. The group surrounded the car carrying the three young men at a gas station in the Sitra Industrial Area. A man in civilian clothing approached the car and put a gun on Sayed Hussain’s head, threatening him with lethal force if any of the young men attempted to resist. Following the complete encirclement of the station, the officers forcibly removed Sayed Hussain and his two friends, obscuring their faces, and subsequently transported them to a bus. In the bus, en route to the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) building, the detainees were subjected to physical assault.

Sayed Hussain was previously arrested in August 2010 at the age of 14, following a break-in at his family’s home, and was subsequently released. Between 2010 and 2013, the house faced approximately 50 raids by security personnel from the Ministry of Interior (MOI), attributed to his involvement in peaceful gatherings. Throughout this period, he refrained from meeting his family due to the risk of arrest. During the raids, his family received threats aimed at compelling his arrest. In the latest raid on 28 March 2013, officers dismantled the contents of the family’s home, including Sayed Hussain’s room, and handed the family a summons for their son to appear before the CID in the Bahraini capital, Manama. Raids also extended to the residences of his relatives, including his grandfather and aunt, with officers inquiring about him during each raid. As a consequence of these persistent persecutions, Sayed Hussain was unable to complete his school education due to the constant security threats, as security forces even sought him out within his school.

In the CID building, Sayed Hussain endured 12 continuous hours of torture. Officers subjected him to falaqa (beating on the soles of his feet), severe beating with plastic hoses, kicks to the stomach and face, sexual harassment, threats of rape, and solitary confinement. Consequently, Sayed Hussain collapsed, and under duress, he signed papers containing confessions, the contents of which he was unaware. The following day, he was transferred to the AlWusta Police Station, where he faced further torture and solitary confinement, and was coerced into signing papers without knowledge of their contents.

On 2 April 2013, he was transferred to the Public Prosecution Office (PPO), where he informed the prosecutor about the torture he endured since his arrest. However, the prosecutor threatened to return him for further investigation if he denied the charges against him. In the PPO, Sayed Hussain’s lawyer observed signs of torture on his face, swelling in his head, and bruises on his leg resulting from the beating he had suffered. However, she was prevented from speaking to him. The PPO charged Sayed Hussain with 1) attempted murder, 2) criminal arson, 3) arson of the Hyundai warehouse, 4) detonating a bomb for terrorist purposes, and 5) illegal gathering. Sayed Hussain denied all the charges against him, therefore, the officers returned him the same day to the CID building, where they tortured him further. On 3 April 2013, security personnel and plainclothes officers took him to his family’s home, conducting an extensive search. At that time, Sayed Hussain was barefoot and in a deplorable condition, displaying signs of exhaustion and fatigue resulting from the torture he had endured.

On 4 April 2013, he was once again taken back to the CID building, enduring seven continuous hours of torture and abuse. Throughout the entire interrogation period, Sayed Hussain experienced enforced disappearance for nine days, as he was denied contact with his family, who remained unaware of his whereabouts. On 9 April 2013, his family managed to meet him for the first time since his arrest at the CID building, before he was transferred on the same day to the Dry Dock Detention Center.

On 13 April 2013, at 2:00 A.M., four officers transported Sayed Hussain from the Dry Dock Detention Center back to the CID building. There, the officers tortured and abused him for eight continuous hours in an attempt to coerce him into confessing to additional fabricated charges. The severe torture inflicted upon him resulted in a dislocated shoulder, swelling in his head, bruises all over his body, and a hernia. Instead of addressing all of his health issues, the authorities opted to transfer him solely to the military hospital for surgery to treat the hernia. His other health problems were left unattended.

Sayed Hussain was not given adequate time and facilities to prepare for his trial and was unable to present evidence and challenge the evidence presented against him. He was consistently denied access to his lawyer, and at times, his lawyer was taken by surprise to find him in the PPO for an investigation into a case she was unaware of and different from the one she had originally come for.  Moreover, the court used confessions extracted under torture as evidence against him. On 1 October 2013, the court sentenced Sayed Hussain to two years in prison on charges of 1) gathering and rioting. The following day, 2 October 2013, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of 2) involvement in the Adliya bombing. On 29 October 2013, he was sentenced to one year in prison on another charge related to 3) gathering, rioting, and assaulting a security patrol. On 1 December 2013, he was sentenced to 5 years in prison on charges of 4) criminal arson. On 11 December 2013, he was handed a 15-year prison sentence on charges of 5) arson of a Hyundai car warehouse. Lastly, on 10 June 2014, he received a 13-year prison sentence on another charge of 6) gathering, rioting, possession of Molotov cocktails, and possession and detonation of explosives, bringing his total sentence to 51 years. In 2017, Sayed Hussain was transferred to Jau Prison after reaching the age of 21.

As of today, Sayed Hussain continues to be denied access to treatment for injuries sustained during torture. His family has submitted several complaints to the Ombudsman and the National Institution for Human Rights (NIHR) regarding his arbitrary arrest, torture, enforced disappearance, unfair trial, and medical negligence. However, the family’s efforts did not yield any tangible results.

Sayed Hussain’s arrest without an arrest warrant due to his participation in demonstrations, torture, sexual harassment, forced disappearance, solitary confinement, denial of access to his lawyer during interrogation, unfair trial, and medical negligence constitute violations of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), to which Bahrain is a party. Furthermore, the violations he endured as a minor contravene the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), to which Bahrain is also a party.

As such, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) calls on the Bahraini authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Sayed Hussain. ADHRB also urges the Bahraini government to investigate allegations of arbitrary arrest, torture, sexual harassment, enforced disappearance, solitary confinement, denial of access to legal counsel during the interrogation phase when he was a minor, and medical negligence. ADHRB further advocates for the Bahraini government to provide compensation for the injuries he suffered due to torture and hold the perpetrators accountable. At the very least, ADHRB advocates for a fair retrial for him under the Restorative Justice Law for Children, leading to his release. Additionally, it urges the Jau Prison administration to immediately provide Sayed Hussain with the necessary health care to address the injuries resulting from torture, holding it responsible for any additional deterioration in his health condition.