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Mother, 50, is 'tortured in a Bahrain prison as punishment'

Posted : 11:09 PM Sep 29,2018 by ICPFJ
Serial Number : icpfj000154399
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Mother, 50, is 'tortured in a Bahrain prison as punishment'

for her relative telling British MP's about the Gulf state's human rights abuses


By ANTHONY HARWOOD

 

  • Hajer Hassan suffered a severe beating after her son-in-law spoke about Bahrain
  • 14 MPs wrote to the Foreign Office minister to complain about her treatment
  • Mrs Hassan, who is locked up in Isa Town prison, was rushed to hospital with bruises to her hands and back
  • Bahraini authorities later claimed Mrs Hassan had beaten herself up

A woman was tortured in a Bahrain prison as punishment for a relative telling British MP's about the Gulf state's human rights abuses, it is claimed.

Hajer Hassan, 50, was subjected to the brutal reprisal in Isa Town prison five days after a parliamentary debate on the mistreatment of political prisoners in the country.

She was singled out for a severe beating because her son-in-law, Sayed Alwadaei, had briefed a group of MPs about what was happening in Bahrain before the debate started.

Mrs Hassan was rushed to hospital with bruises to her hands and back following the attack, and her blood sugar level had also dropped to a dangerous level. 

Mr Alwadaei said the debate on September 11 was attended by two representatives from the Bahrain embassy who heard politicians discuss his testimony.

It led to a group of 14 MPs, from all parties, writing to the Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt this week to complain that Bahrain, an ally of Britain, was trying to stop its critics testifying to the UK parliament.

Tory MP Peter Bottomley said: 'If one of our allies responds to a debate in the House of Commons by mistreating the relatives of someone who has informed it, that is a direct challenge to the strength of the UK-Bahrain relationship. That people providing information to MPs should have their families treated in this way is unacceptable'.

In the letter, which was also sent to the Speaker and Leader of the House, the MP's mocked the 'extraordinary statement' released by the Bahraini authorities which claimed Mrs Hassan had beaten herself up.

hey said the Bahraini account of what happened had continued: 'The inmate had intended to get together with other inmates and tried to hurt herself by hitting her body and lying on the floor'.

To this the MPs said: 'This stretches credulity'.

Detailed in the letter, seen by the MailOnline, the MPs also said: ‘The assault suffered by Mr Alwadaei’s mother-in-law was the culmination of a series of reprisals apparently stemming from Mr Alwadaei’s engagement with MPs.

‘Prior to the incident she had been banned from participating in Ashura rites – a religious holiday commemorated predominately by Shia Muslims – and refused access to religious Ashura books; prevented from making family phone calls; and had scheduled family visits arbitrarily cancelled.’  

A recent report by the UN Secretary-General also detailed the 'ongoing pattern of reprisals and intimidation' faced by human rights defenders in Bahrain, and held up Mr Alwadaei's relatives as an example.

The family were caught up in the wave of crackdowns which erupted when the Arab Spring swept through Bahrain in 2011, following similar uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.

At one point more than 100,000 pro-democracy demonstrators took to the streets, and many, including Mr Alwadaei, were thrown in jail.

When he was freed in December 2011 after being incarcerated for six months Mr Alwadaei fled to the UK, where he was granted asylum by the Home Office.

As well as his mother-in-law, Mr Alwadaei's cousin and brother-in-law are also in jail, all accused on charges of planting a fake bomb, which human rights campaigners say were 'trumped up'.

Mr Alwadaei admitted it was hard knowing that his family could be beaten up because of his campaign, but said that would not stop him speaking out.

He said today: 'It does worry me but at the same time I do believe their misery will not end if we didn't speak out.

'Hajer is afraid what might happen and what they could do to her. The last time she called was two days ago, and my wife was in tears.

'She said that even though she was having a miserable time she wanted me to speak out.

'The last thing she said to my wife which made her cry was: 'Forgive me, in case anything happens'. She was asking for forgiveness for anything bad she did as a mother, in case anything happened to her'.

Last week it emerged that millions of pounds of British taxpayers money is being spent in secret on projects which have included help for Bahraini prison staff and security personnel.

Lord Scriven claimed that Bahrain uses the existence of UK support to give it a 'cloak of respectability to undermine human rights, a cloak of respectability for murder and torture.'

Dan Dolan, head of policy for Reprieve, the human rights charity, said: 'Hajer Hasan's beating, so soon after her case was raised in Parliament, should shame the British Government into action. The UK should not stand by while Bahrain uses violence and intimidation to stop human rights activists speaking to MPs.

'While the UK has been spending millions of pounds on security assistance to Bahrain the country's human rights situation has drastically deteriorated. This funding should be frozen until we can be sure it will not enable abuses such as torture and the death penalty'. 

Rohan menon 

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