Torture -part 3: “Bahrain’s Security Forces: A History of Sexual Sadism”

 “There is one place in which one’s privacy, intimacy, integrity and inviolability are guaranteed – one’s body, a unique temple and a familiar territory of sensa and personal history. The torturer invades, defiles and desecrates this shrine. He does so publicly, deliberately, repeatedly and, often, sadistically and sexually, with undisguised pleasure. Hence the all-pervasive, long-lasting, and, frequently, irreversible effects and outcomes of torture.” Sam Vaknin, The Psychology of Torture

Unlike witnesses to horrors of war who usually share a collective memory with a community, victims of torture face a unique and special type of trauma. The physical and mental pain associated with torture and sexual abuse has been a subject of study in the past 50 years; intelligence agencies, good-willed psychiatrists, psychologists and philosophers have all showed special interest. No matter how much you read or watch about torture, or even if you work first-hand with torture victims, there’s no way you can truly comprehend the magnitude of their suffering. Eliane Scarry, in her book “The Body in Pain”, says “Pain comes unsharably into our midst, at once that which cannot be denied and that which cannot be confirmed”. Psychologist Shirley Spitz, in a seminar about torture: “Torture is an obscenity in that it joins what is most private with what is most public. Torture entails all the isolation and extreme solitude of privacy with none of the usual security embodied therein”. She then tries to explain pain: “Pain is also unsharable in that it is resistant to language… Pain is not of, or for, anything. Pain is. And it draws us away from the space of interaction, the sharable world, inwards.”

Typically, torture victims suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They can experience insomnia, irritability, restlessness, attention deficits, night terrors, flashbacks, cognitive impairment, reduced capacity to learn, memory disorders, sexual dysfunction, social withdrawal, inability to maintain long-term relationships, or even mere intimacy, phobias, ideas of reference and superstitions, delusions, hallucinations, psychotic microepisodes and emotional flatness. The torture and sexual abuse inflicted on Bahrainis, like that inflicted on Argentineans, Filipinos and others, is not only meant to crush the political prisoner, but to break-down the entire community; spreading fear, anguish, and mistrust. Many torture victims become anti-social and suicidal; and as witnessed in Iraq, Egypt and elsewhere, torture victims and their family members are among the easiest to recruit in terrorist and militant organizations. In 2009, Chairman of the US Senate Armed Services Committee Carl Levin in a conference asserted: “the abuse of detainees in our custody has served as a recruitment tool for terrorists”. Despite 200 years of oppression and more than 40 years of torture, we haven’t seen serious violence or major terrorist acts in Bahrain by dissidents.

Sexual abuse is a tool that has been used in Bahrain for a long time; most torturers aren’t Bahrainis, and therefore, feel no sympathy towards the tortured. The below cases were documented prior to recent events, in the 80s, 90s, & 2000s; they illustrate how sexual abuse and assault are basics in Bahrain’s Security Forces’ manual:

1) In a British documentary about Ian Henderson, “Blind Eye to the Butcher”, a former Bahraini prisoner Hashem Redha who’s currently living in the UK, was interviewed. He was most probably imprisoned in the 80s and early 90s era; he was severely tortured and his nose was disfigured. He described how he was tortured with sticks and hoses, and that they sexually assaulted him by putting a pencil in his anus. He also described how Henderson, himself, was supervising those torture sessions, and in one instance, he personally put his finger in the prisoner’s anus, and asked if the prisoner had confessed yet.

2) Robert Fisk interviewed a prisoner who “claims that in the 1980s he was sexually abused in Henderson’s headquarters by another British officer who forced a bottle into his anus in an attempt to persuade him to reveal the names of Shia opponents of Sheikh Issa’s regime. The man identified the Briton by name”. Fisk said he “have confirmed that a British officer of the same name worked for Henderson at the time”.

3) In 1996, Robert Fisk interviewed Sayed Hisham al-Moussawi, an opposition figure in exile was imprisoned and tortured. He claimed “British officer – not Henderson or ”Brian” – was present during the ill-treatment. He named a Briton who worked with Henderson as responsible for his torture in 1983”. Moussawi: ”[He] wanted me to confess to political activities. They beat my wife up in front of me and then the Briton pushed a bottle up my anus.”

4) Said Al-Eskafi claimed his son Ali, who died under torture, was sexually abused.

5) In an interview, a Bahraini who spent many years in jail describes how he was tortured severely, and that once when he asked for water, a torturer told another to urinate in his mouth. They also threatened him that they would rape his mother and sister. He says many detainees were raped and conditions were way worse than AbuGhraib.

6) Another prisoner, Tawfiq Mahrous, also said one of his torturers urinated in his mouth.  He describes how rape used to happen in front of prisoners. According to Mahrous, officer, Jama’a Nafe’e was specialized in rape and sexual assault, and these acts happened under his supervision.  He also goes on to describe how they used to put their heads in toilets.

7) From a 2010 Human Rights Watch Report titled “Torture Redux, The Revival of Physical Coercion during Interrogations in Bahrain”:

“Isa Abdullah Isa told Human Rights Watch that an officer said to him, “If you don’t confess, I will bring your wife and let all the guards have her, I swear to God.” Isa heard the officer tell someone to “start the car” before saying to Isa that he was going to get Isa’s wife. Isa said he then falsely confessed to giving a gun to another individual.”

“Isa Abdullah Isa reported that while he was blindfolded in a room at Adliya, guards tied a plastic flexible handcuff around his penis and forced him to drink a bottle of water. Every 15 to 30 minutes, the guards forced him to drink more water and Isa began to feel a strong urge to urinate. He cried out, asking to use the toilet, but the guards refused. Isa said he considered urinating where he stood, but the flexicuff prevented him from doing so. Eventually, a guard removed the flexicuff, but Isa still was not permitted to use the bathroom. He urinated on himself.”

“Naji Ali Hassan Fateel reported that while being suspended with his hands above his head officers told him that he had to cooperate. Otherwise, one of the officers told Fateel, security forces would arrest Fateel’s wife and put her with a Pakistani guard who would rape her. The officer said that the Pakistani’s regular “job” was to rape boys.”

“On the day of his arrest, Yassin Ali Ahmad Mushaima was being questioned regarding pipe bombs. When Mushaima said he knew nothing about bombs, guards removed his clothing and threatened to rape him. They also said that they would rape his sister and mother. At CID headquarters in Adliya, an officer taunted Ahmad Jaffer Muhammad by saying that he was going to have sex with Muhammad. Muhammad, who was blindfolded at the time, told Human Rights Watch that the threat terrified him.”

““They ripped my pants and shirt, and tore off all my clothes,” al-Hamadi said. “They made me lie on my side on the floor. I was handcuffed and they held my legs down. An Egyptian was holding an electric device and he put it on my sexual parts. He put it on and off many times.”Al-Hamadi reported that the device was never placed on his body for more than a second or two.”

“When al-Shaikh, who was blindfolded, said that he knew nothing about a gun, the officers removed his clothes and pulled his legs apart. Then, al-Shaikh said, they inserted what he believes was a baton into his anus for a few seconds. One of the officers said, “If you want to pretend to be a real man, we’ll show you how to be a real man.”

8)Maitham AlSheikh, mentioned above, who was tried in 2009 for alleged possession of arms, accused security forces of sexually assaulting him, and said that the doctor report proved it. In an interview, he also described how they hanged him upside down naked and used sticks to sexually assault him repeatedly. His torturers also electrocuted his genitals. His torture sessions would last up to 7 hours.

9) Essa Al Sarh, in an interview to BCHR also said Bassam Al Me’eraj, an officer, threatened him that he’ll bring his wife and undress her in front of him, if he didn’t sign the confession; which he signed after the threat.

10) Hassan Abdulnabi was imprisoned along with his wife. His torturers also threatened him they would rape his wife if he didn’t confess.

11) From a BHCR report about torture and sexual abuse: “the most recent case was in Dec. 2006 when Mossa Abdali, a human rights activist was allegedly abducted and subjected to physical and sexual abuse. As a result of such atrocities, Mr Abdali was granted political asylum in the UK starting August 2007”

12) In 2008, Mohamed Alsingace, the head of the Committee to Combat High Prices and detainee, told his family that was beaten and sexually molested by two security officers, Moftah (Bahraini) and Parvis (Non-Bahraini) in front of Sergeant Adnan Bahar. Two other detainees, Mahmood Hassan Saleh and Mohemmed Makki Ahmed complained about sexual abuse.

13) In 2008 as well, a number of opposition activists were arrested:

Hamed Ebrahim Fardan : “..I was stripped naked in full. They kept playing with my “penis”, tied it with a rope and pulled it until I fainted. Because of that, I lost control of urination (involuntary urination) for more than a week.” “They threatened to bring my wife and assault her before my eyes.”

Hameed Adnan Omran, Jawad Hameed Adnan, Jawad Hameed Adnan, Sadiq Sayed Ibrahim Jumaa  and Kumail Ahmad Ali Mahdi all claimed they were threatened with rape and sexual assault. Abdulla Juma Abdalla was threatened and sexually molested.

14) In 2010, BCHR blamed “Bahraini authorities for torturing Shia clerics and stripping several human rights defenders off their clothes in order to humiliate them. The human rights center also reported that some of the detainees, among them Shia clerics, were tortured, mutilated and sexually harassed and abused inside their cells.”

15) In 2010, 76 children have been detained, many were subjected to torture and sexual abuse. Their ages range from 10 to 17 year old. BCHR received a number of complaints on cases of child abductions by armed militias in civilian clothing. They are taken blindfolded to unknown centers where they are “tortured, severely beaten, and stripped naked” and “photographed” and “sexually harassed”. The incarceration could take from several hours to several days. Among the abducted, Ahmed Ibrahim (15 years), Ali Jaffer Aradi (15 years), Jasim Ahmed Habib (16 years), and Ali Ibrahim (17 years) who were all abducted on the 15th of last August from the village of Arad. “They were tortured and then dumped naked in the dawn of the next day at one of the country’s coasts”.

“The youngest child arrested is Jihad Aqeel AlSari (10 years), who was arrested on the eve of the Universal Children’s Day, November 19, 2010. This came after the family had received a call that Jihad was to go to the Police Ceter, which he refused to do fearing for his life. His family believes that the reason for his arrest is to put pressure on his father, the Shiite cleric Mr. Aqeel AlSari who is a detainee accused of participating in what is known as the “terrorism network”, especially after speaking before the Court on October 28th about how he was tortured in detention.”

16) Also, more on abductions by secret police: in August, 2010 armed militia in civilian clothing kidnapped Hakeem Al-Ashiri and Hussein Ali Dawood from Dair area and took them to an unknown location. “Their clothes were stripped off entirely, and were photographed nude and they were sexually harassed.”

On August 15th, Ali Hasan Al-Sitri, a law student and an activist, was abducted, tortured, and photographed naked. He was later told by an interrogator that this was only a message, and that his family members will be raped if he continued his activism. He was imprisoned for 2 days.

In another incident, Ahmed Ali Hussein Abdullah was abducted, tortured, stripped naked, rubbed with oil, sexually assaulted, and photographed. He was told that his photos will be published on the internet. He was questioned about his relation with the opposition, and he was threatened with raping his family members as well.

“Torture combines complete humiliating exposure with utter devastating isolation. The final products and outcome of torture are a scarred and often shattered victim and an empty display of the fiction of power” Shirley Spitz

About arabunity2011

I'm Arab Unity, have been struggling to get my pieces together for a long time!
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5 Responses to Torture -part 3: “Bahrain’s Security Forces: A History of Sexual Sadism”

  1. Martha A Hisington says:

    This is an important work of journalism and much needed information for anyone to begin to understand the horror of torture in Bahrain. I commend your efforts in this and other posts to brings these facts to light.
    Thank you for your courage.

  2. Great article, although it leaves out the political connection. Adel Fliefel, one of Ian Henderson’s disciples and recipient of an amnesty by King for the crimes he committed in the 80s/90s era has been invited to the farce of a “national dialogue” (A PR exercise to give legitimacy to the status quo).

  3. Pingback: Torture – From Guantanamo to Bahrain - Exposing The Truth

  4. Very well written. Good investigation. Terrible how people treat each other.

  5. Pingback: Torture-part 3: “Bahrain’s Security Forces: A History of Sexual Sadism”

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