Accused of Treason and Imprisoned Without Trial: Journalist Kirill Vyshinsky Recounts His Harrowing Time in a Ukrainian Prison

Eva Bartlett sat down with recently released Ukrainian journalist Kirill Vyshinsky. Vyshinsky endured 15 months of appalling conditions in a Ukrainian prison after being falsely accused of treason.

October 28th, 2019

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In November 2018, I became aware of the case of Kirill Vyshinsky, a Ukrainian-Russian journalist and editor imprisoned in Ukraine without trial since May 2018, accused of high treason.

Soon after, I interviewed Vyshinsky via email. He described his arrest and the accusations against him as politically-motivated, “an attempt by the Ukrainian authorities to bolster the declining popularity of [then] President [Petro] Poroshenko in this election year.” 

Vyshinsky noted that his arrest was advancing the incessant anti-Russian hysteria now prevalent among Ukrainian authorities, as he holds dual Ukrainian and Russian citizenship. He noted that the charges against him, which pertain to a number of articles he published in 2014 (none of them authored by Vyshinsky), became of interest to Ukrainian authorities and intelligence services four years after they were published. To Vyshinsky, this supports the notion that neither the articles nor their editor were a security threat to Ukraine, instead, he says, they were a political card to be played.

In early 2019, I traveled to Kiev to interview Vyshinsky’s defense lawyer Andriy Domansky about the logistic obstacles of his client’s case. Domansky viewed the Vyshinsky case as politically motivated and expressed concern that he could himself become a target of Ukraine’s secret service for his role in defending his client, an innocent man.

Domansky told me at the time,

The Vyshinsky case is key in demonstrating the presence of political persecution of journalists in Ukraine. As a legal expert, I believe justice is still possible in Ukraine and I will do everything possible to prove Kirill Vyshinsky’s innocence.”

To the surprise of those following the case against Vyshinsky, in late August 2019 he was released with little fanfare after serving more than 400 days in a Ukrainian prison but still faces all of the charges brought against him by the Ukrainian government and is “obliged to appear in court or give testimony to investigators if they deemed it necessary.”

By early September, Kirill Vyshinsky was on a plane to Moscow. Despite never being tried or officially convicted, he found himself the subject of a prisoner exchange between the Russian and Ukrainian governments.

A banner reading “Freedom to Kirill Vyshinsky” is held at a June 16, 2019 rally in Moscow. Maxim Shemetov | Reuters

I interviewed Vyshinsky in Moscow in late September. He told me about his harrowing ordeal, the Ukrainian detention system, other persecuted journalists, and what lies ahead for him.

He also touched on the inhumane conditions he experienced in Ukrainian prisons. He noted that a pretrial detention center as we know it in Western nations is a very different entity in Ukraine and that Ukrainian prisons were so over-crowded that it was common for inmates to sleep in three shifts in order to allow enough standing room for inmates crammed into a cell.

 

Ukrainian prisons like a “concentration camp”

Aleksey Zhuravko, a Ukrainian deputy of the Verkhovna Rada of V and VI convocations recently published photos taken inside of an Odessa pretrial detention center showing utterly unsanitary and appalling conditions. Zhuravko noted, “I am shocked at what was seen. It is a concentration camp. It is a hotbed of diseases.”

Another Ukrainian journalist, Pavel Volkov, was subjected to the same types of accusations lobbed against Vyshinsky. Volkov spent over a year in the same pretrial detention center as Vyshinsky. He was arrested on September 27, 2017, after Ukrainian authorities carried out searches of his wife and mother’s apartments without the presence of his lawyer and with what he says, was a false witness.

Volkov spent more than a year in a pretrial detention center on charges of “infringing on territorial integrity with a group of people” and “miscellaneous accessory to terrorism.” On March 27, 2019, he was fully acquitted by a Ukrainian court.

Volkov shared his thoughts on the persecution of journalists in Ukraine, saying:

The leaders of the 2014 Euromaidan movement, who subsequently occupied the largest positions in the country’s leadership, repeatedly stated that collaborators from World War II who participated in the mass extermination of Jews, Russians, and Poles are true heroes in Ukraine, and that the Russian and Russian-speaking population of Ukraine are inferior people who need to be either forcibly re-educated or destroyed.

They also believe that anyone who wants peace with the Russian Federation, and who believes that the Russian language (the native language for over sixty percent of Ukraine’s population) should be the second state language, is the enemy of Ukraine.

These notions formed the basis of the new criminal law, designed to persecute politicians, public figures, journalists, and ordinary citizens who disagree with the above.

Since 2014, security services have arrested hundreds of people on charges of state treason; infringing on the territorial integrity of Ukraine; and assisting terrorism for criticizing the current government in the streets or on the Internet.

People have been in prison for years without a conviction. And these are not only the journalists included in the ‘Vyshinsky list’.

Activists from Odessa, Sergey Dolzhenkov and Evgeny Mefedov, have spent more than five years in jail just for laying flowers at a memorial to the liberators of Nikolaev [Ukrainian city] from Nazi invaders.

Sergeyev and Gorban, taxi drivers, have spent two and a half years in a pretrial detention center because they transported pensioners from Donetsk to Ukraine-controlled territory so that they could receive their legal pension.

The entrepreneur Andrey Tatarintsev has spent two years in prison for providing humanitarian assistance to a children’s hospital in the territory of the Lugansk region not controlled by Ukraine.

Farmer Nikolay Butrimenko received eight years of imprisonment for paying tax to the Donetsk People’s Republic for his land located in that territory.

The 85-year-old scientist and engineer Mekhti Logunov was given twelve years because he agreed to build a waste recycling plant with Russian investors. The list is endless.

People often incriminate themselves while being tortured or under the threat of their relatives being punished, and such confessions are accepted by the courts, despite the fact that lawyers initiate criminal proceedings against the security services involved in the torture. These cases are not being investigated.

The only mitigation that has happened in this direction after the change of government was the abolition of the provision of the Criminal Procedure Code stating that no other measure of restraint other than detention can be applied to persons suspected of committing crimes against the state.

This allowed some defendants to leave prison on bail, but not a single politically-motivated case has yet been closed. Moreover, arrests are ongoing.

The only acquittal to date from the so-called journalistic cases on freedom of speech is mine. However, it is still being contested by the prosecutor’s office in the Supreme Court.

Ninety-nine percent of the media continue to call all these people ‘terrorists’, ‘separatists’, and ‘enemies of the people’, even though almost none of them have yet received a verdict in court.”

Volkov’s words lay bare the true nature of the allegations made against Kirill Vyshinsky as well as the countless other journalists and citizens of Ukraine that have fallen victim to the heavy hand of Ukrainian authorities.

Feature photo | Kirill Vyshinsky poses while covering Ukraine’s Maidan protests in 2014. Photo | Zenit-ka.ru

Eva Bartlett is a Canadian independent journalist and activist. She has spent years on the ground covering conflict zones in the Middle East, especially in Syria and occupied Palestine, where she lived for nearly four years. She is a recipient of the 2017 International Journalism Award for International Reporting, granted by the Mexican Journalists’ Press Club (founded in 1951), was the first recipient of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism, and was short-listed in 2017 for the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism. See her extended bio on her blog In Gaza.

The Bahrain Gov’t Is Attacking Female Activists – And Trump’s Policies are Emboldening Them

The Bahrain Gov’t Is Attacking Female Activists – And Trump’s Policies are Emboldening Them

By Lucilla Berwick and Bridget Quitter, Ms. Magazine 

In 2017, Bahraini human rights defender Ebtisam al-Saegh found herself sitting in a dark room before a pair of chain smoking officers from Bahrain’s National Security Agency. “No one is going to hear you in this place,” sneered one of the men, who introduced himself as ‘the torturer.’ “No one can protect you here, not the Human Rights Council or any other organization. You know we have a green light from Trump, right?”

It had been a brutal year in the tiny island of Bahrain, the home of the US Navy Fifth Fleet and a key American ally in the Arab Gulf. The government, led by the AlKhalifa monarchy, had begun a severe and ongoing crackdown, which saw all political opposition groups and independent media forcibly dissolved and thousands incarcerated on political charges, amid accusations of rampant torture and due process violations. Ebtisam had recently returned from the UN in Geneva, where she spoke out about Bahrain’s repression.

With her arrest and torture, the government was sending a message: this would not be tolerated.

Women like Ebtisam have long played a central, albeit overlooked, role in Bahrain’s opposition movement. As the government increasingly targeted women for their opinions or those of their relatives, many began to come forward. Our organizations, the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy and Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain, have worked with nine women to share their stories. The resulting report, Breaking the Silence, traces the path of these women – from their arrests, through their interrogations and trials, to their detention at Isa Town Detention Centre, Bahrain’s only women’s prison. We uncovered horrific patterns of abuse, from sham trials to torture and sexual violence.

We encountered considerable obstacles to our work from the outset. The Bahraini state is highly resistant to scrutiny, making it virtually impossible to visit the country for research. UN Special Rapporteurs have not been permitted entry since 2006, while human rights groups, including Amnesty International, have been denied access since 2015. However, through regular phone calls with the imprisoned women and their families, as well as analysis of court rulings and medical reports and comments from psychologists and legal experts, we pieced together a coherent picture of their experiences.

As we assembled their stories, the systematic nature of government abuses became clear. During brutal interrogations, the women experienced extreme violence, ranging from threats of rape or death to beatings, sexual assault and witnessing the torture of relatives. To end these abuses, many agreed to sign pre-written confessions, later used by Bahrain’s widely condemned judiciary to convict them. When they attempted to raise their ill-treatment in court, they were dismissed by judges.

Once sentenced, the women were singled out for mistreatment at Isa Town prison due to their political status, as is common across the Bahraini prison system. They reported punitive measures, including restrictions on family visits, religious discrimination, physical assault and medical negligence. Two of the women who remain in prison today, Medina Ali and Hajer Mansoor, have only seen their children once over the past year – a visit that was granted only after significant international pressure.

The legacies of the women’s abuse affect them to this day. Ebtisam reported she can no longer sleep in the dark or tolerate the smell of cigarettes, both of which immediately transport her back to the smoky room where she was tortured. Others reported psychological trauma in their young children related to their prolonged separation. The stigma attached to incarceration also makes returning to society difficult: After being released following an international campaign against her unlawful conviction, Najah Yusuf was fired by her employer who questioned her integrity due to her criminal record.

“Sometimes I speak normally about my ordeal,” Yusuf told us, “but the truth is that I am bleeding from within. It’s painful, and I have no idea when all of this is going to end.”

While abuses in Bahrain may seem distant, the US exerts a huge influence on the country, and American policy has actively contributed to the crackdown. Since Trump’s election, Obama-era human rights conditions on arms sales have been removed and the State Department has approved an unprecedented $8.5 billion worth of arms sales, upgrades, services and training to the country. Despite evidence that some of this funding has gone directly to bodies implicated in the abuse of the women we interviewed, the US places no human rights conditions on its substantial investment in Bahrain.

Trump seemingly gave the “green light” to Bahrain’s crackdown during a state visit in May 2017, where he promised an end to the “strain” his predecessor had placed on US-Bahrain relations. Two days later, Bahraini police opened fire on peaceful protests in the village of Diraz, in what the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights described as among the “deadliest” operations since Bahrain’s pro-democracy uprising was crushed in 2011. The conservative shift in American domestic policy has also encouraged Bahrain’s rights abuses: days after the White House announced the resumption of federal executions in July 2019, Bahrain executed two torture victims amid international outcry; when asked for comment ahead of the executions, the Bahraini Embassy in Washington, DC explicitly referenced the US decision.

Trump’s barely-concealed enthusiasm for authoritarianism is bolstering a climate of impunity in the region. In Bahrain, this means abusers are free to operate without fear of consequences. When Trump received Bahrain’s Crown Prince to discuss arms deals last month, he made the message very clear: keep buying arms, and we will stay silent on rights abuses.

For the women we worked with, the knowledge that they could be seized again at any point is among the most terrifying aspects of their entire experience. It is time for Congress to make clear that these violations cannot be tolerated.

These nine women have broken the silence. Now it is up to us to raise our voices and make sure that their efforts are not in vain.

Saudi Prisons and Courts: Is There Anything More Unjust?

Saudi Prisons and Courts: Is There Anything More Unjust?

By Latifa al-Husseini

Beirut – Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is continuing his clampdown on every voice of dissent. It makes no difference whether power lies in his hands or those of his father, King Salman. He changed, deposed and imprisoned whoever he wanted. Things are done according to his will. He kills, buys or sells. He exercises control over whatever he wants. There is no obstacle blocking his way. Bin Salman’s policy of tyranny is evident across all of the kingdom’s internal matters. His behavior does not recognize the rights, opinions and demands of others. And for that reason, he believed there is simply no need for anyone to speak up. Therefore, the best solution is to silence and liquidate them.

Arrests and executions on the rise

When it comes to basic freedoms in the Kingdom, the situation is only getting more complicated. Activists have long complained of harassment and persecution. But the reign of Salman bin Abdul Aziz, which began four years ago, witnessed a sharp rise in the percentage of executions and unfair trials of prisoners of conscience, religious clerics and those taking part in peaceful movements. This is contrary to Bin Salman’s claims of reform that he made after the overthrow of former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef in 2017.

This year alone, there have been 164 executions so far, and arbitrary arrests have exceeded dozens. The scale of these executions suggests that there is no decline in unfair liquidations. In 2016, the Kingdom executed 153 citizens who were denied fair trials. In 2017, more than 100 detainees were executed, and hundreds of clerics, academics and writers were jailed. In 2018, authorities arrested and tortured dozens of female and other human rights activists.

Organized crimes are committed on the orders of the higher-ups. In 2015, these officials opened the doors of employment for those wishing to join its team of executioners. The security services report directly to the crown prince’s office. At the forefront of the security services is the State Security, which has been charged with arrest campaigns against political, social, and human rights activists from different currents in addition to the princes belonging to the ruling family who may pose a potential threat to Bin Salman. Also, in the crosshairs are tribal elders and businessmen who have had their significant wealth confiscated by the authorities.

In the absence of international accountability, Bin Salman’s apparatuses are moving towards more repression and tyranny. Information from within the Kingdom reflects a dark atmosphere. There are no resolutions, but rather a deepening crisis.

A prominent Saudi lawyer, Taha al-Hajji, spoke to Al-Ahed News Website about the very poor human rights situation, which appears to lack even the slightest glimmer of hope. Al-Hajji says that the Saudi judiciary usually does not announce its intention to execute prisoners. Instead it accumulates the number of prisoners it plans to put to death and then carries out mass executions. These often coincide with political developments in the region, especially those concerning Iran.

Indications that new executions are imminent & those most at risk

In light of recent reports that the authorities are preparing to execute a number of detainees, al-Hajji points to heightened activity on the part of the judiciary in the past weeks. It is speeding up trials and rushing hearings. Whereas before they were only held every two months. This indicates that authorities are striving to achieve a goal, especially since the Saudi judiciary has never held back-to-back hearings in this manner.

Al-Hajji’s remarks back reports circulating about sessions held by the specialized criminal court in the past two weeks for a number of preachers, most notably Salman Al-Odah and Safar Al-Hawali. Al-Hajji’s hypothesis is that the Saudi regime is preparing for a new batch of mass executions. He points to a long list of political prisoners and explains that their conditions vary judicially. Some are appearing before the appeals court and others before the Supreme Court. There are some detainees whose cases are still new, and no judgment has been issued. However, the prosecution is requesting the death penalty (it submits its application to the court and the court then decides).

According to al-Hajji’s data, the number of death sentences in Saudi Arabia is much higher than published. He warns that the detainees most at risk of execution are Ali al-Nimr, Abdullah al-Zaher and Daoud al-Marhoun, who face old sentences that came into force but were stopped due to international pressure.

Mock trials and violations of prisoners’ rights

Those who keep up with the human rights situation in the Kingdom would notice that the detainees who appear in court are not granted fair trials, and that the judiciary does not listen to them or their representatives. Due to his experience with the Al-Saud courts for many years, Al-Hajji asserts that it is difficult to figure out who is being sentenced to death. The authorities make these rulings public through state-run media, which announces that death sentences were handed down, but they do not name the defendants.

However, their common denominator is that they were all accused of crimes stemming from participation in the political movement.

Al-Hajji, who left the kingdom after getting fed-up of the Saudi judiciary’s persecution of prisoners, explains that some judgments are issued before the indictment is made, especially when it comes to detainees who participated in demonstrations and what the authorities consider inciting public opinion against the regime.

“The trials of political detainees take place in the specialized criminal court, which is dedicated to terrorism and state security cases. This gives a clear picture of how the regime treats the peaceful demonstrator,” he adds.

According to al-Hajji, the features of the mock trials resemble those of real ones: an accused, a lawyer, a prosecution and a hearing. Up to this point, everything appears normal. But the reality is different. What takes place in the courtroom is nothing but a skit in which the case is over before it even begins. Moreover, sentences are often accompanied by confessions referred to as legal confessions that are extracted under torture.

The file is submitted to the judge only after the detainee has been forced to sign the confessions the authorities want. The judge only has to ask, “Is this your signature?” Then, the case is closed. The presumed “defendant” does not know what he signed and is later returned to solitary confinement and abused.

Al-Hajji points out that he always challenged the confessions on which the court bases its ruling, in an attempt to prove that they were extracted under duress and torture in order to underscore its invalidity. But the court does not take the challenge seriously.

He evokes his bitter experience with the judiciary saying, “I always demanded video footage during the interrogation and medical reports proving that the detainee had been tortured, but the court does not oblige the prosecution on this matter and completely ignores it.”

Violations of the rights of the detainees are never ending. The court does not allow a prisoner to appoint a lawyer until after the case begins in court. Accordingly, he is forbidden to communicate with his family during the investigation period. To make matters worse, it may take more than a year after being arrested to bring the accused to court. Sometimes the case is brought to the court of terrorism and then referred the same day to the criminal court, al-Hajji stresses.

Since the kingdom’s judiciary lacks integrity and credibility, Al-Hajji decided years ago to boycott the Saudi courts, after it became clear that the lawyer is only an ‘extra on set’, serving the authority and whitewashing its performance before the Western media. And the detainee never benefits from him.

The pain of those forgotten in prisons

Al-Hajji describes prison conditions as tragic. According to his previous observations and what is happening today, it is another world in detention, one not even seen in the movies. It is a strange wild world. And yet the authority carries out a huge media campaign to polish its image and the image of its prisons. The latest of which was shown on National Day when a large number of celebrities entered the prisons to praise the services there.

“The buildings are modern and well-equipped, but what about the torture chambers and solitary cells? These are violations in the dozens,” Al-Hajji says. “Mrs. Nassima Al-Sadah has been in solitary confinement for more than a year now. While it has been leaked that Loujain Al-Hathloul has been subjected to horrific forms of torture and harassment. There are some detainees who were imprisoned and were only set free after being murdered.”

Al-Hajji asserts that all those who enter prison are subjected to particularly harsh treatment during the first interrogation period. He points out that Shia political detainees are banned from practicing their religious rites and so are some books.

Al-Hajji draws a clear distinction in the way terrorist prisoners from Al-Qaeda and ISIS are treated. They are subjected to counseling programs, imprisoned for a few months, then released and given in-kind and material gifts in spite of their heinous crimes.

“This program does not include Shia detainees or prisoners of conscience. The authorities tried to say that they do it with them. However, the truth shows that it is carried out only at the end of the term that prisoners of conscience are serving, that is, before the prisoner is finally released. This means that none of the Shia detainees had been released before completing the sentence. They are not subjected to the counseling program at all. And this applies to the Sunni prisoners of conscience,” he adds.

The tragic situation of the detainees under Mohammed bin Salman’s reign worsened despite claims of reform. This grim picture prompts al-Hajji to predict new atrocities on the part of the authorities, especially since activists abroad are being chased and their families inside the Kingdom are being put under great pressure, where no dissident or opposition figure is free.

Down The Path of Justice, Oppression Becomes an Inspiration

By Nour Rida

So little has been written in mainstream media on Sheikh Ibrahim al-Zakzaky, yet many people are learning about his case and cause. Nigerian people have been taking to the streets of the capital, to demand the immediate release of ailing the Muslim cleric.

Sheikh Zakzaky, who is in his mid-sixties, lost his left eyesight in a 2015 raid by security forces that left more than 300 of his followers and three of his sons dead. His wife also sustained serious wounds. The Islamic Human Rights Commission [IHRC], based in London, said earlier this week that the cleric’s health condition has further deteriorated, since he was reportedly poisoned in prison.

On this note, the Sheikh’s daughter, Suhaila al-Zakzaky, told al-Ahed news “The updates we have on my father’s condition is that he is still having difficulty getting things done. He is experiencing a lot of pain physically, and as a result it is difficult for him to sleep. His blood pressure has been fluctuating. Generally we have been very concerned; the doctors have not been able to conduct any proper further investigations into his condition. So, there is no full or conclusive statement on the status of his health.”

According to earlier reports, medical examinations on the Sheikh have found that the levels of lead toxicity in his body are much higher than the critical levels previously reported and 45 times over the normal acceptable limit. They have also found worrying levels of cadmium poisoning in the Sheikh. The news said that such are the levels of toxicity that the doctors have concluded that Sheikh Zakzaky is at risk of death unless he is urgently treated.

The daughter said she had no information on how lead poisoning took place. “I am not exactly sure how lead got there, they might have done it, and a medical team must investigate the case to conclude if he was poisoned or comment on how the lead got into his blood in first place.”

Answering whether she has direct contact with her father today, Suhaila pointed out “Yes, we do have direct contact because they gave him a phone now. Since the court case, they have allowed him to have a phone.”

Nigerians, according to the young activist, are protesting the injustice to which Sheikh Zakzaky is being subjected. “As you know there have been continuous protests almost on a daily basis and when it comes to the people, tremendous numbers have come to condemn what the government is doing,” Suhaila noted, adding “There are also some people who believe whatever the news says and think that the government is doing the right thing. The president’s aide held a press conference and claimed that the government has no power to interfere in the judicial process. However, the Islamic movement is trying as hard as possible to spread awareness and allow people to understand what is truly going on. It is so far very impressive how people are realizing the truth, and even many people in the government today condemn what is taking place.”

In regards on how this experience has affected her life, Suhaila explained “I would say that we have always expected possible adversities to be faced, and the massacre and the events that followed after to me, are more like what I would call the cost of this path (of justice). The only thing I can say is that it affects my outlook on everything. You know we have already sacrificed down this path, therefore it serves as an inspiration or motivation which would hopefully make us more steadfast.”

Furthermore, Suhaila underscored that she strongly believes that the detention of her father does make the Islamic movement stronger. “I believe that many people are finding out more about the Islamic movement not only due to the detention of my father but also due to the massacres that have happened. In terms of Nigeria for example, we have had a great level of supporters that we never knew we had. These people who show support to the Islamic movement did not bother to look into the Islamic movement earlier or even understand what it’s about. But now they show a great deal of support. Even on an international level, I believe that people, especially outside of Nigeria do not know much about the Islamic movement and with the level of media silence still a lot of people have become acquainted with the Islamic movement because of this, and hence yes I think it makes the Islamic movement stronger.”

Suhaila concluded that she, like many other young activists, will remain to participate in protests to sound her objection to the unjust detention of the Sheikh who is not only a father but also a leader in her eyes.

Related News/Posts

Nigeria Crackdown: Sheikh Zakzaky Granted Bail after Mass Protests

By Staff, Agencies

A Nigerian court granted bail to Muslim cleric Sheikh Ibrahim al-Zakzaky so that he can fly to India for medical care, his lawyer says.

“The judge has ordered that Zakzaky be flown to India for proper medical attention,” his lawyer Femi Falana told AFP on Monday.

Sheikh Zakzaky, the founder of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria [IMN], has been in detention since December 2015 after his residence in the city of Zaria was raided by Nigeria’s forces, during which he was beaten and lost vision in his left eye.

During the brutal crackdown, three of his sons were martyred, his wife sustained serious wounds, and some 350 of his followers were killed.

Since then, the government has been violently cracking down on the IMN and its members.

The Islamic Human Rights Commission [IHRC], based in London, said last month that the cleric’s health condition had further deteriorated, since he was reportedly poisoned in prison.

Sheikh Zakzaky was in dire need of medical treatment, as large and dangerous quantities of lead and cadmium have been found in his blood.

Recently, a Nigerian court granted the government permission to label the IMN as a “terrorist” group, a move that many believe would give the officials the opportunity to clamp down harder on it.

IMN members regularly take to the streets of the Nigerian capital to call for the release of Zakzaky.

In recent weeks, dozens of demonstrators were martyred after Nigerian troops used live ammunition and tear gas. The IMN says it has lost at least 20 of its members during the clashes.

A Bahraini Activist climbs the London’s roof of Bahraini embassy to stop execution of Two Activists on False Accusations

Update :

 

A Bahraini Activist climbs the roof of the Bahraini embassy in London to protest against executions and British police storm the building

Bahrain: Execution of Two Activists on False Accusations! UPDATED

Martyr Ali Al-Arab’s Last Words: I Didn’t Kill Him, I Don’t Even Know Where the Incident Happened!

By Bahrain Mirror – Translated by Staff

“I didn’t kill Hisham al-Hamadi, at all, I am satisfied with Allah’s judgement,” those were the last words mouthed by martyr Ali Mohammad al-Arab who was on imminent death row. His family was totally concerned about his fate after a visit that seemed to be the last ever.

Bahrain Mirror cited his mother, who described the last moments of meeting with her son who has been detained for two years, as saying: “Everything was unusual when we arrived at Central Jaw Prison.”

Ali’s family reported that there was tight security measures at the prison, huge numbers of officers and policemen, and double inspection. The first time was when entering the prison’s building, and the second time was before entering the room where they met their son.

“We entered as groups. The duration of the visit was around an hour and a half. Ali said that after having lunch he was moved into a solitary cell like what they did to Ahmad al-Malali. I was handcuffed and remained so until before I entered this room,” Ali narrated.

The mother, who was very confused out of the shock, and asked one of her sons about the year Ali was born, said that Ali was studying Accounting in Saudi Arabia. He turned 25 a few months ago. And he spent more than two years in prison.

“As he told us earlier, the moment he entered Jaw Prison after issuing the verdict was very difficult on him because, according to his jailers, they prepared for him a torture and humiliation party the moment he arrived there,” the mother added.

“He stood in front of us, he was very happy to hug us without a glass barrier after this long period of separation. He looked into my eyes and was very calm as he told me: don’t worry mother, martyrdom is my wish, and here it is coming true.”

The mother recalled that Ali was way stronger than her. He was resilient and very calm until the last moment with him. He didn’t mention writing a will, but perhaps he had told one of his siblings about it: “I don’t know, I just know that he was worried about me and he didn’t want me to cry.”

As a mother, I can bear witness that my son Ali Mohammad al-Arab was subjected to torture, the lady said. During the first visit after his arrest, the mother said she saw him on a wheelchair and that he mentioned the names of those who tortured him.

Ali’s brother also told Bahrain Mirror that during the farewell meeting, his brother stressed total satisfaction with Allah’s judgement, and that he feels he will soon be executed.

“He entered the room wearing the prison’s grey uniform. After we had a short chat, I had a question in my mind about the truth of the accusation filed against him. I asked him: Brother, do you have anything to do with the killing of Hashem al-Hamadi? He replied: Not at all, I have nothing to do with his killing, I even neither know him nor the place where he was killed.”

The policewomen were secretly listening to al-Arabs from the open window in the small visit room. They were listening to every detail, and were surrounded by armed guards. They have clearly seen that Ali didn’t care to any of their behaviors. “Perhaps they wanted to witness the reaction of humans passing through such hard times as we were doing,” the brother added.

Ali’s mother noted that her son didn’t experience imprisonment before: “This is his first time in prison.” His siblings say: “We asked him about his will, but he said the only thing he wanted is Allah’s pleasure.”

Martyr Ali al-Arab’s mother and his siblings couldn’t find words that describe their loved one during that horrible moments. One of his siblings said: “What could I tell more? There wasn’t but a strong calm man. He greeted us and was full with pleasure.”

According to a report issued by Amnesty International in March 2018 on the issue of Ahmad al-Malali and Ali al-Arab and what they were subjected to after arrest: “During detention, the two men were subjected to torture by the security officers, including electrocution and beating. The toenails of Ali al-Arab were also ripped out.”

This Happened in the Small Room, Martyr Ahmad al-Malali’s Father Describes the Farewell Visit

By Bahrain Mirror – Translated by Staff

“I wish I were martyred in a different way, but it finally happened,” these were the words of detainee Ahmad al-Malali who was facing imminent execution by Bahraini regime’s authorities on the issue of killing officer Hisham al-Hamadi, on which there is no evidence but the confessions made under systematic torture; a method that tops all kinds of evidence in Bahraini courts.

Isa, father of martyr Ahmad al-Malali told Bahrain Mirror that his son was pursued by the regime between 2011 and 2017, when he was only 16 years old. Now, as he turned 24, he didn’t enjoy his life, he couldn’t study or work, until he was arrested and accused of assassinating that officer.

Seeking freedom, martyr Ahmad was trying to escape via sea before a military force raided the boat and arrested him. During the urgent and quick visit that came a few hours before the expected execution, Ahmad said:

“I was hiding behind the edge of the boat. Bullets were flying over, so I told myself I wish one of them would hit me so I can be martyred. The bullet, however, settled in my wrist. I wished I could have martyred in another way. But it has finally happened, and this is the most important.”

The Urgent Visit

The urgent visit didn’t go as normal as before. The family received a call in which they were informed that they are allowed a special visit to see their detained son at noon. There number for the members allowed to visit was unlimited. It was a clear that it is a “farewell visit”, the father says. Isa al-Malali narrates that some 35 members of the family came to the gate of Central Jaw Prison to meet with Ahmad.

“The situation was unusual there. Military patrols were roaming the area surrounding the prison. We were divided into groups of five. Each group can enter to meet with Ahmad for 15 minutes and so on…” the father says.

Inspection was tight, the policewomen took off the women’s headscarves, even their headbands. After the inspection, every member was escorted with two police officers. On both sides of the corridor leading to the visit room, there were armed policemen. When the members arrived at the room, other officers were examining the names.

Inside the Room

The visit room has two doors, the one that the family entered through, and the other through which Ahmad entered. “We hugged him, he sat in front of us. He was aware of what was going on. He knew they were his last hours before the execution,” the father describes the situation.

There was a small window inside the room, it was open and the policewomen sitting behind it were listening all what was going on inside. Beside them there were some armed policemen. “You won’t doubt for a single moment that their looks hide killing and death.”

I talked to my son, the father says.

He described his escape attempt and how he was wishing for martyrdom. “We all know that my son is innocent, but unfortunately no one called us to ask about what he was saying over that period. Neither the family of the killed officer, nor the MPs called us. After this visit, only human rights activists called us although they learned that this will happen and that he will be executed after a few hours.

Inside the room, Ahmad asked for forgiveness from all the family members in case he had made something wrong to them during his life. “He wrote his will, he told us, and we will read it after his execution. He refused to give us details. He asked us to read it only after he leaves this world,” the father narrates.

We started performing prayers inside the room, and Ahmad participated with us. We also recited the Ziyara (visit) of Imam Hussein (AS). We were reciting as we heard the policewomen laughing as they were overlooking us from the window, Isa al-Malali explains.

An officer who seemed responsible for the visits entered the room and told me, “bid your son farewell, the visit is almost over,” the father said, adding that martyr Ahmad was the one helping us to stay patient, asking us to trust God and be patient and satisfied with Allah’s judgement and destiny.

“I bid my son who will leave this life at 24 farewell. He is my eldest. I only say that my son is innocent. May Allah avenge from anyone who wronged my son,” the father concludes.

According to a report issued by Amnesty International in March 2018 on the issue of Ahmad al-Malali and Ali al-Arab and what they were subjected to after arrest:

“During detention, the two men were subjected to torture by the security officers, including electrocution and beating. The toenails of Ali al-Arab’s feet were also ripped out.”

 

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Bahrain Wakes Up to Execution of Two Activists on False Accusations!

By Staff

The Manama regime announced on Saturday (July 27, 2019) morning the execution of two political prisoners who were allegedly accused of killing a Bahraini officer in 2017.

In further details, the families of Ahmad Isa al-Malali (24) and Ali Mohammed al-Arab (25) confirmed the news. The two martyrs denied all accusations and stressed that they were forced to made false confessions that were extracted under torture which included unplucking their feet nails and electrocution.

According to the martyrs, the Bahraini court made its judgement based on such confessions extracted under torture and without any single tangible evidence.

This is the second time the ruthless Bahraini regime executes political opposition activists. The first time happened on January, 14, 2017 when martyrs Abbas al-Samea, Sami Mushaima’ and Ali al-Singace were executed in the same way.

The executions came despite calls by Amnesty International that the Bahraini authorities must urgently halt the imminent execution of the two activists “who were convicted after a grossly unfair mass trial after they were tortured to confess.”

Also, the Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society issued a national appeal to stop the implementation of executions a day earlier.

Relatively, three human rights organizations (SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights, Bahrain Forum for Human Rights and Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights) issued a statement in the same respect.

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