I recently conducted an interview with Bahraini human rights defender, Maryam Al-Khawaja. Aside from discussing the historical context of the Bahraini revolution and the tactics the Bahraini regime has used through the Feb14 revolution to repress protests, I personally learned so much. It was extremely insightful, especially since it’s a country that, like Morocco, has fallen off the radar of mainstream media coverage for quite sometime. Outside of the interview, I had some interesting discussions with Maryam about the ways the Bahraini and Moroccan regimes have sort of taken note of each other and the similar ways that they’ve dealt with dissent both domestically and internationally. Stay tuned for something on that soon!
Below is an excerpt of the interview. You can read it in its entirety over at Jadaliyya.
What are the conditions of the political prisoners currently held in Bahrain?
Maryam Al-Khawaja: Systematic torture still exists (physical, psychological, and sexual). After the release of the BICI report, torture moved from official torture centers to unofficial centers. For example, a few days ago, security forces took a young man to a youth hostel where he was beaten severely, had his money and mobile stolen, and was then dumped on the streets in Jidhafs.
The judicial system in Bahrain is neither independent nor fair. It is used as a tool to go after and punish dissidents. Within the last two years, Bahrain has witnessed thousands of political cases based on trumped-up charges. During the summer, political prisoners were denied air conditioning despite the unbearable heat of Bahrain. At some points, they were not allowed to shower. Sometimes they were not allowed to pray or even use the bathroom. Many of the political prisoners still suffer due to severe torture and are prevented from adequate medical care. We continue to have cases of minors under eighteen who are imprisoned and at times, tried under the internationally condemned terrorism law.