Skip to main content

Bahraini human rights activist detained, family claim risk of torture

Hussain Jawad is being held by Bahraini police officers for reasons unknown according to family members
A young Bahraini boy holds a poster portraying Wefaq opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman (AFP)

A prominent Bahraini human rights activist was arrested by plain-clothes police officers early on Monday, according to relatives.

The home of Hussain Jawad was raided by 20 masked police officers at dawn and he is now being detained at the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID), his wife Asma Darwish told MEE. She said a number of riot police vans waiting outside the family home while police searched inside, seizing electronic devices belonging to her husband.

Jawad is the chairperson of the European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights (EBOHR) and has been detained on several occasions by Bahraini authorities. He was released in January after two months custody pending a trial on charges of insulting King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa.

Darwish told MEE charges against him relate to a speech given in the capital Manama in which Jawad “called for democracy, for peaceful struggle and for human rights to be respected.”

“This is what he does, that’s his work,” she said.

Hussain Jawad (Twitter)

She said police flashed a warrant when searching their home on Monday morning but that there was no time to read the document, meaning the family are unaware of the reasons behind Jawad’s latest arrest.

The fourth anniversary of the Bahraini uprising was marked on 14 February with clashes between protesters and police, as the tiny Gulf Island remains deadlocked over calls for political reform.  

Authorities accuse protesters of being Iranian proxies and engaging in violence, citing sporadic attacks that have seen a number of police deaths, while the opposition complain promised reforms are yet to be implemented and allege torture is being systematically used against a bulging political prisoner population.

Both sides reject the other’s allegations.

Jawad has telephoned his wife once since being arrested and she remains concerned he may be ill-treated in custody.

“He called for four seconds and said that he’s okay,” she said. “I asked him if was okay or was being harmed and he answered ‘yes’ and the phone immediately went dead.”

“The CID is popularly known in Bahrain as being a torture centre. I am very concerned my husband will be tortured. I don’t know how to reach out to him.”

Darwish said the family lawyer has been unable to reach Jawad and that authorities have not responded to requests for him to receive legal representation.

Bahrain’s Interior Ministry did not respond to requests for comment at the time of publication but have repeatedly denied torturing prisoners held in their custody.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.