Profile in Persecution: Ayoob Adel Ahmed

Ayoob Adel Ahmed was a 23-year-old Bahraini citizen when Bahraini authorities arbitrarily arrested him for the final time on 14 May 2015. During his detention, he endured numerous violations, including brutal torture, enforced disappearance, sexual harassment, and other abuses. The most severe violations and burdens, however, stem from medical neglect, which has transformed him from a healthy young man into a prisoner suffering from a permanent disability. He is currently serving two life sentences, along with a total of 98 years imprisonment sentence in Jau Prison on politically motivated charges.

Ayoob was first arrested on 15 June 2013 from his grandmother’s house, when masked plainclothes officers ambushed the home and arrested him without presenting any arrest or search warrant. He was then taken to the Samaheej Police Station. En route to the police station, he was subjected to beatings all over his body, especially on his broken leg, and to sexual harassment by Lieutenant Yusuf Mulla Bakhit. During his interrogation at the Samaheej Police Station, police officers tortured Ayoob, and this torture continued upon his arrival at Jau Prison. Prior to his arrest, he had been pursued by the authorities due to a ruling issued against him in absentia for participating in a pro-democracy march on 26 November 2012 in the Muharraq area. This march was met with repression by the riot police forces, resulting in his left leg being hit by a tear gas canister and immediately broken. 

While serving his six-month prison sentence issued in absentia for the charge of illegal assembly, Ayoob discovered that he had been unfairly convicted in absentia on additional charges, resulting in an additional 12 years in prison. Additionally, the Jau Prison administration refused to provide Ayoob with necessary medical treatment, including crucial X-rays to monitor his fractured leg, despite having undergone leg surgery just over a month prior to his arrest. Despite severe pain and repeated requests for treatment, the prison administration delayed addressing his condition. Following a hunger strike, the prison administration agreed for Ayoob to undergo an operation to remove the iron rods from his leg and place them externally. However, complications persisted, with his leg remaining in an iron shackle for three months due to nerve damage from delayed treatment. Enduring prolonged pain and sleeplessness, Ayoob underwent another operation to remove the external iron and insert an internal plate. After four weeks of intense pain inside the hospital, only alleviated through sedatives that became ineffective, he escaped from the hospital.

On 14 May 2015, at dawn, National Security Agency (NSA) forces stormed a house in the Malikiya area where Ayoob and his friend were sleeping, arbitrarily arresting them both without presenting any warrant. Subsequently, the officers transferred Ayoob to the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) building, where he was interrogated for two weeks without the presence of his lawyer. During interrogation, Ayoob forcibly disappeared, and CID officers subjected him to physical and psychological torture. They beat him on various parts of his body, especially on his broken leg, deprived him of sleep and family contact, and threatened him with rape. As a result of the torture, Ayoob’s health deteriorated significantly, leading to symptoms such as blood in his urine and a risk of kidney failure. Under duress, he confessed to the fabricated charges against him. On 17 May 2015, Ayoob was brought before the Public Prosecution Office (PPO) without the presence of his lawyer. The PPO charged him with 1) making an explosion, and 2) possessing and using explosives and endangering people’s lives and money for a terrorist purpose, ordering his detention pending investigation. On 27 May 2015, Ayoob was transferred to Jau Prison, where officers subjected him to further torture, insults, and threats, including beatings with hoses, kicks, and slaps, deliberately targeting his injured leg. A week after being transferred to Jau Prison, Ayoob’s enforced disappearance ended, as his family learned that he was being held in Jau Prison. 

In July 2015, Ayoob was transported with a group of inmates by bus to the Jau Prison administration building. Inside the bus, a policeman intentionally obstructed the windows and delayed the bus for an extended period, allegedly with the intention to harm them, according to Ayoob’s account. This led to two detainees falling, with one experiencing convulsions and the other fainting. Subsequently, Police Officer Mohamed Suleiman beat Ayoob inside the prison administration building in the presence of First Lieutenant Mohamed AbdulHamid Maaruf.

Ayoob was not brought before a judge within 48 hours after arrest, was not given adequate time and facilities to prepare for his trials, and was denied access to his attorney before and during the court sessions. Furthermore, the court utilized the confessions extracted from him under torture as evidence against him in his trials. Consequently, the court convicted Ayoob between June 2013 and February 2019 of numerous charges, including 1) illegal assembly, 2) planting a fake bomb on Muharraq Bridge, 3) criminal arson, 4) causing an explosion, 5) possessing and using explosives and weapons endangering people’s lives and funds for terrorist purposes, 6) attempted murder, and 7) escaping from prison. He received two life sentences and a total of 98 years in prison. Notably, the first three crimes he was convicted of were alleged to have occurred while he was suffering from a recently broken leg and using crutches to walk, making his convictions questionable.

While serving his sentence in Jau Prison, Ayoob faced repeated verbal abuse and humiliation based on his religious beliefs and was deprived of family contact and visits. Additionally, due to the visitation restrictions that prevent visits without barriers, he has opted to abstain from visits. More significantly, he has been suffering from severe medical neglect, resulting in a significant deterioration in his health. Currently, he experiences severe back pain, damaged vertebrae, a left leg shorter than the right, and blood in his urine, putting him at risk of kidney failure. Furthermore, the iron rods that were supposed to be removed from inside his foot in January 2017 have not yet been extracted, causing difficulty walking, complications, and intense pain. Recently, he contracted a rare disease for which there is no treatment available in Bahrain, and he has not received any medical attention. Despite these health issues, Ayoob is denied medical appointments, X-rays, surgery, and proper medications. Consequently, he has undertaken numerous hunger strikes to demand urgent medical treatment.

Ayoob and his family filed complaints with various governmental and human rights organizations, including the National Institution for Human Rights (NIHR) and the Ombudsman. However, these complaints have received little to no response or action from the authorities, exacerbating Ayoob’s already dire situation.

In 2023, Ayoob suffered severe symptoms, including blood in his urine and abdominal pain, yet he was only transferred to intensive care three days after experiencing these symptoms, and after continuous requests for medical attention. Furthermore, Ayoob’s family remained unaware of his condition while he was in intensive care, as the prison administration refused to give them information on his health condition. Additionally, prison officials denied him the opportunity to file a complaint regarding the delay he faced in receiving treatment and health care.

On 20 February 2024, Ayoob conveyed in an audio recording his ongoing denial of medical treatment. He emphasized that the deliberate withholding of necessary medication by the prison administration, as well as delays in removing the iron rods from his leg and addressing his damaged back, had rendered him disabled and incapable of walking properly, worsening both his leg and back conditions. Ayoob warned that such negligence amounted to a policy of slow death, not only depriving him of mobility but also violating his fundamental right to proper healthcare.

Ayoob’s arbitrary arrest, enforced disappearance, torture, sexual assault, denial of access to legal counsel during interrogations and trials, unfair trials, discriminatory treatment based on his belonging to the Shia sect, deprivation of family contact and visits, and medical negligence represent clear violations of the Convention against Torture and Other Degrading and Inhuman Treatment (CAT), the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), 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.

As such, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) calls upon the Bahraini authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Ayoob. ADHRB also urges the Bahraini government to investigate the allegations of Ayoob’s arbitrary arrest, enforced disappearance, torture, denial of attorney access during interrogations and trial, discriminatory treatment based on his Shia sect affiliation, deprivation of family contact and visits, and medical neglect, while holding the perpetrators accountable. Furthermore, ADHRB sounds the alarm over Ayoob’s deteriorating health condition, urging the Jau Prison administration to promptly provide him with appropriate healthcare, holding it responsible for any further deterioration in his health. Finally, ADHRB calls on the Jau Prison administration to immediately grant Ayoob his right to regularly communicate with his family and receive assistance with his essential needs.