Mohammad Sahwan: You’ll no Longer Feel the Pain of your Wounds
2017-03-23 - 8:44 p
Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): Martyr Mohammad Sahwan still had less than five years left before he could embrace his little boy, who was only an infant when he was locked up. Yet, now he has left prison as a corpse.
Black-clad, his child stood there wide-eyed at the scene of his father's lifeless body to take a last look and bid his final goodbye. Puzzled, the boy stood still not knowing what to do. Someone told him "go on, plant a kiss on your dad's forehead" and tell him "forgive me dad," and then stroked the orphan's head.
Martyr Mohmmad Sahwan's child bidding farewell
After five years in prison, Mohammad Sahwan finally achieved martyrdom. He will meet his maker with the shotgun bullets still resting in his skull, those bullets that pierced his flesh when he was protesting against the oppressive regime in 2011. He has departed as a martyr and witness as well.
Sahwan was laid to rest in his hometown Al-Sanabes that he cherished dearly. Every person in Sanabes has a story to tell about Mohammad, said one of the people of the village. He is the first to be buried near the grave of Mr. Ahmad Al-Iskafi, who was a very prominent and influential figure in the history of Sanabes.
Martyr Mohammad Sahwan went through many difficult stages as did the rest of his family members. Belonging to the "Sahwan" family name was enough for him to become a target, let alone being a leading man of society in Sanabes.
Sahwan was among the imprisoned during the 1990s Intifada as well as the February 14 uprising, during which he sustained injuries from shotgun shrapnel bullets in his head and body, and then was arrested on the Qatari border where he was heading to receive treatment. A case was fabricated against him and after a session of torture that ended with a false confession, he was sentenced to 10 years behind bars.
Sahwan's February 14 story began early on. He was seen on video clips, extracted by activists from the archives, holding up the Bahraini national flag and shedding his tears at the Pearl (LouLoua) Roundabout with the first protestors that returned victorious to the square on February 19, 2011.
On April 17, 2011, amidst the brutal state of emergency, Sahwan was near his father's house, when regime forces starting firing at him with shotguns and as a result he was injured in his head, leg and other parts of his body. He fell and stayed on the ground for a while and then stood up and ran away, fearing death or arrest. He continued to bleed and sought refuge in one of the houses in the area.
He suffered from very serious injuries from the shrapnel that spread over his body. He was treated at the time by physicians from the Doctors Without Borders (MSF) organization inside a small apartment in secret. The shrapnel were removed from his leng only, but the ones in his head were not extracted.
Sahwan could not get the required x-ray of his head to remove the shrapnel and he was not able to go to the hospital fearing arrest, as all the hospitals were under the control of the military and security forces during the state of emergency. The injured were also receiving inhumane treatment and getting arrested from hospitals.
In October 2011 and after he suffered for months, Sahwan traveled via the King Fahd Causeway to Saudi Arabia seeking medical treatment. He did not feel safe in any hospital due to the security cooperation between the Saudis and Bahrain. Thus, he decided to head to Qatar, but he was arrested with his companions on the Qatari border.
In Qatar, Sahwan and his companions were taken into custody and his journey of torture began. They were held in a monitored room, and even the bathroom was equipped with surveillance cameras. They were interrogated for long periods of time. During the questioning, Sahwan was threatened that he will never see his family again and that no one will ever know his whereabouts. They even threatened him that he will disappear as "Mousa Al-Sadr disappeared in Libya."
After 32 days of imprisonment in Qatar, the officer informed them that they will be taken to the airport to leave for Iran where Sahwan will be treated. They were taken to the airport, but to leave for Bahrain where National Security Apparatus (NSA) officers were awaiting their arrival.
Sahwan and his companions were transferred from the airport to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), where they were subjected to brutal torture under the command of the notorious Jordanian officer Isa Al-Majali.
Sahwan mentioned in his statement that Al-Majali told him: "We examined you in the hospital and found more than 50 shotgun bullet [shrapnel] in your head and they are all located on the right side. I will beat you with each tool on the left side of your head until you can see the shrapnel exit your head from the right side and shed blood, unless you sign this statement."
At first, Sahwan did not give in and refused to sign the statement that included false accusations against him, so he was subjected to severe torture. He; however, stood his ground.
Al-Majali then resorted to threatening to sextually assault Sahwan's wife. "I will bring your wife and assault her in front of your eyes and do whatever we want with her, as you sit tied up watching, not being able to do anything for her, unless you sign this statement," the officer warned him. This prompted Sahwan to sign a previously prepared paper by them, not knowing what was written on it.
Causing a buzz in the media, the authorities claimed that Sahwan and his four friends formed a cell that plotted to launch armed attacks in Bahrain against figures and sites, including the King Fahd Causeway, and that they conspired with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Lebanese Hezbollah group.
All the accused in the same case (Qatar cell case) were subjected to torture. Although lawyer Mohammad Al-Jeshi submitted a 100-page medical report to the court, proving that his client Sheikh Ali Al-Mostarshed who was the main defendant in the case was subjected to torture, the court disregarded all these allegations without investigating them, and then issued its unfair verdicts against the five defendants, including Sahwan, sentencing them to 15 years in prison, based on confessions only without any other substantial evidence.
Months after his imprisonment, Mohammad Sahwan was examined from Dry Dock Prison by a doctor at the Interior Ministry's clinic. An x-ray was taken which showed that he needed surgery to remove the shotgun shrapnel. There were 80 shrapnel in his face, head and neck only and others spread all over his back and some in his legs.
Sahwan was taken to the military hospital run by the Bahrain Defense Force (the military). There the surgeon informed him that he cannot perform the operation because it was too risky and that he has to spend the rest of his life depending on painkillers only to reduce the chronic pain that he suffered from.
Sahwan continued to suffer from pain for several months until his condition worsened. He was admitted to the military hospital again, where he received the same response, "the operation is very dangerous and we cannot perform the operation for you." He insisted on undergoing the surgery because of his chronic pain, but they insisted that it was too risky.
After many calls made by his family, the prison administration finally agreed to transfer him to the Salmaniya Medical Complex, where the doctor told him that he can perform the operation yet apologized for not having any available appointments.
After the sentence was issued against Sahwan, he was transferred to Jaw Central Prison to begin a new chapter of torture. He was prevented from going to the hospital despite having an appointment and he was even banned from receiving treatment at the prison infirmary. He was also deprived from taking the pills that the doctor prescribed for him to reduce his pain.
Sahwan's attorney Rim Khalaf called for treating him or letting him be examined by other doctors on multiple occasions, yet the prison administration and Public Prosecution did not answer any of her demands.
Martyr Sahwan served more than five years of his prison sentence and experienced various kinds of torture. He witnessed the Jaw Prison events that took place in March 2015. He was among those who were accused of inciting the prisoners. He suffered from severe pains, was prevented from treatment and then left us as a martyr on March 16, 2017.
Al-Sanabes wept over him- perhaps it is its year of mourning. At the onset of 2017, it lost three martyrs and a fourth one now. Since the early hours of the morning, Al-Sanabes continued to flood with mourners to bid farewell to Sahwan.
"Prison is a means used by the regime to kill us. We should take advantage of it to allow ourselves to grow from the inside to defeat oppression, the prison walls and warden. Think how you could break their tyranny instead of thinking about what their tyranny did," these were the words of martyr Mohammad Sahwan as recorded by the Jaw Novel author. He indeed broke their tyranny on the day of his martyrdom.
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