In Brief

Bahrain Tortures Award-Winning Photojournalist

by Mostafa Heddaya on September 2, 2014

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An award-winning photograph of Bahraini riot police taken by Ammar Abdul-Rasool, who has been detained since July in Bahrain and reportedly tortured (image via BCHR)

Ammar Abdul-Rasool, a Bahraini photographer arrested in July, has been tortured during his continuing detention, the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) reported. Abdul-Rasool’s unlawful incarceration is part of a broader Bahraini crackdown on dissidents and journalists since Arab Spring–inspired protests erupted in early 2011. His coverage of the kingdom’s ongoing anti-regime demonstrations, which have faced brutal suppression from security forces assisted by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, earned him over 80 international awards. According to BCHR, Abdul-Rasool has been subjected to extensive torture and abuse:

He was taken, handcuffed and blindfolded, to the criminal investigations directorate. He remained in that state and was forced to stand up for three days, and was not allowed to pray. Bahrain Centre for Human Rights has been informed that he was severely beaten, and is still suffering from the pain. He was stripped of his clothes, sexually harassed and threatened with electric shocks. He was also told that his wife and infant daughter would be brought to the criminal investigations building. On top of all this, Abdul-Rasool faced verbal abuse against his family and sect.

According to an Arabic-language report from BCHR, Abdul-Rasool has been arrested before, in February 2013, though he was released later the same day. That report, which dates from the time of his arrest in July, adds that his most recent arrest took place without a warrant in unauthorized raids on his and nine other homes in the Shi’ite village of Akr.

Since 2011, at least 96 people have been reportedly killed at the hands of government forces in connection with protests sparked by the Shi’ite majority’s demands for self-determination in the Sunni-led Gulf state. The ruling Al-Khalifa dynasty is a close ally of the United States, and the country is home to the headquarters of the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet.

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