Isa Town Detainees: Some Wash Policewomen’s Carpets, Others Remain in their Prison Cells in Protest

2017-11-22 - 7:18 am

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): The Political prisoners held in Isa Town Detention Center experience various forms of humiliation and exploitation by female police officers and the prison chief. Some prisoners backed down and gave up to the officers in return for receiving some simple necessities which are considered their basic human rights. Meanwhile, other detainees refused be treated in a humiliating and degrading way and continued to announce their opposition and demand that their rights be achieved in a humane and legal manner.

Some of political detainees fully comply with the orders and demands of the policewomen. They wash and clean the carpets of the policewomen to gain their consent in having a few more minutes to call their families in emergency cases; a right inmates should have.

These inmates take part in activities which the head of the prison organizes in order to fill her resumé and present it to international human rights institutions that visit prisons, polishing and whitewashing the prison's image. This; however, comes at the expense of the prisoners efforts. One of these activities is the "cooking program". The prison administration; however, does not spend anything on this program, as the inmates pay for everything. The prisoners get everything they need for cooking at their own expenses from the prison's canteen and this usually costs a lot of money in comparison to the sum allowed to be given by the families, especially that the prices of products sold at the canteen are double the prices outside the prison. After finishing their cooking, inmates distribute the food to all the prisoners, while the prison's chief brags about her program and presents it to international groups and human rights organizations to claim that the prison offers this program as a leisure activity for prisoners.

On the other hand, the majority of political prisoners do not give in to the prison's attempts to exploit them and insist on demanding their rights to receive adequate treatment and their simple needs without humiliation. A number of these female inmates are Amira Al-Qashaami, Hajar Mansour, Madina Ali, Zainab Marhoun, Najah Habib, Ebtisam Al-Saegh and Rawan Sanqour (Al-Saegh and Sanqour were later released).

Before September 26, inmates used to meet their families without a glass barrier. Although they sat on the opposite sides of a wide table that prevents physical contact, they were able to reach out and touch their children and family members. They could also hug their children who climbed on the table to reach their mothers. Since last September; however, the prison's administration decided to place glass barriers in the visiting chambers, separating the inmates from their families. Everybody is forced to bend during the visitation time due to a more than 30 cm shelf located on one of the sides of the glass barrier in order to be able to hear each other. Children under 12 years of age are also not allowed to have contact with their mothers. This measure caused psychological trauma and frustration to the mothers and their children as well.

The families of detainees are subjected to humiliating process of body searching before and after visits, although there are surveillance cameras set in the visitation chamber. Every political detainee is accompanied by a policewoman during her family visit and listens to everything they say. Policewomen have intervened in the personal conversations between the inmates and their families on multiple occasions. As for phone calls, inmates cannot talk on the phone without a policewoman being present in the room to monitor the whole conversation; which deprives the inmates of privacy even when talking to their families about private issues.

As a result of all of those measures, political prisoners Amira, Hajar, Madina, Zainab and Najah decided to remain in their prison cells for over a month in protest against this treatment. Ebtisam Al-Saegh and Rawan Sanqour were among these prisoners before they were released. The inmates submitted a petition to the prison's administration explaining that they are protesting against being banned from open visits and the lack of privacy as the degrading body searches.

The five remaining prisoners have recently announced that they will stay in their prison cells, refusing to take part in an activity outside their cells.

These inmates call on the world to take immediate action to help them regain their freedom, or at least help them enjoy privacy while meeting their families.

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Detainee Hajar Mansour

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Detainee Madina Ali

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Amira Al-Qashaami

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Detainee Zainab Marhoun

Arabic Version


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