Action Alert: Bahrain/Canada: Canadian imprisoned for 5 years in Bahrain after forced confession

Share/Save/Bookmark
flag_withpigeon_smaller

Naser al-Raas was brutally tortured for 31 days in al-Qala prison, before being sentenced to 5 years imprisonment in October.

Contents

1. Summary

2. Background

3. Action required

4. Sample letter

1. Summary

Naser al-Raas – a Canadian citizen – was jailed on 20 March by the Bahraini regime for charges unknown. He was tortured at al-Qala prison for an entire month before signing a forced confession.

He has now been sentenced to 5 years imprisonment, after being convicted of having gathered and spread 'misinformation' during Bahrain's demonstrations in a court presided over by a member of the Bahraini royal family.

The appeal against his conviction is to be heard on 7 December.

2. Background

Naser al-Raas is a Canadian citizen, who came to Bahrain in March this year to visit his fiancée Zainab al-Ahmed

.

Before boarding a flight from Bahrain International Airport to Kuwait on 20 March, he was set upon by plain clothed police officers; who confiscated his Canadian passport and forced him into a room at the airport. They pointed their guns and shouted abuse at him – never at any pointed stating that he was under arrest, or for what reason he was being held. After being driven to the desert and threatened with execution, he was taken to Bahrain's notorious al-Qala prison.

Between 20 March and 20 April, Naser was detained in an underground wing of al-Qala prison. Whilst there, prison guards and interrogators subjected Naser to an unrelenting period of mental and physical torture.

It has been reported that he was regularly given mock-executions, threatened with rape, and threatened to have his fingernails forcibly ripped out. The particularly sadistic and humiliating manner in which Naser was brutalised is highlighted by their forcing him to swallow the saliva of the Bahraini prison guards.

Naser was on many occasions electrocuted, and beaten with rubber hoses and wooden sticks whilst strapped to a chair and interrogated. He lost consciousness on a number of these occasions. Naser has moreover testified to being subject to random beatings in the night by masked men. Many of his interrogators and torturers he says are of non-Bahraini origin.

Naser suffers from a heart condition and pulmonary hypertension. For this reason he begged his prison interrogators not to beat him in his chest area – an appeal which was met by even more severe beatings.

He has informed human rights groups that during his time at al-Qala, he was denied access to the medicine he requires to treat his heart and lung conditions. To this date, he has not received any of the treatments that he requires.

Naser reports to have personally witnessed the killing of Abdul Karim Fakhrawi – a member of the Bahraini opposition – and has undergone the same mental and physical torture which ultimately led to his death.

Prior to being released from al-Qala on 20 April, he was blindfolded and forced to sign a confession that he was clearly unable to read. He signed it under the duress of prison interrogation.

The regime initially tried Naser al-Raas in a military court in June for the alleged killing of a police officer. He was found not guilty, but was then tried in a civil court for participating in the protests – in lieu of any witnesses. This apparently 'civilian' trial was presided over by Judge Rashid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa – a member of the Bahraini royal family. He was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment on 25 October.

Only Naser's initial trial in a military court was observed by a representative of the Canadian consul. Both Naser and Zainab have been astonished at the lack of interest shown in their case by the Canadian government. Zainab has on many occasions been turned away by Canadian authorities when asking questions about her husband on the grounds that the case of Naser al-Raas is "private". Canadian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Diane Ablonczy has responded to attempts by Amnesty International to invite a more proactive stand by the Canadian government by suggesting that Canada should instead pursue his case "quietly".

Although his appeal was meant to be heard on 22 November, Naser's health was too poor to attend. His hearing was rescheduled for 7 December – after which there will be no further appeals, regardless of how poor his health is. Naser has stated in a radio interview with CBC that based on his experiences during his first imprisonment at al-Qala, he does not expect to survive a 5 year prison sentence.

3. Action Required

IHRC requests its Canadian campaigners and supporters to write letters and emails to the ambassador of your country to Bahrain. Both Canadian and non-Canadian campaigners should contact the Canadian Minister for Foreign Affairs John Baird; and the Canadian ambassador to their country; demanding that they press immediately for the swift release of Naser al-Raas.

4. Sample letter

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A sample letter is given below for your convenience. Please note that model letters can be sent directly or adjusted as necessary to include further details. If you receive a reply to the letter you send, we request you to send a copy of the letter you sent and the reply you received to IHRC. This is very important as it helps IHRC to monitor the situation with regards to our campaigns and to improve upon the current model letters.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

a) Canadian Minister for Foreign Affairs;

The Hon. John Baird PC, MP

House of Commons

Ottawa, Ontario

K1A 0A6

E-Mail: john.baird@parl.gc.ca

[Your name]

[Your address]

The Hon. John Baird PC, MP

House of Commons

Ottawa, Ontario

K1A 0A6

[Date]

Dear Mr John Baird,

Re: Torture and imprisonment of Canadian citizen Naser al-Raas by Bahraini regime

I would like to convey my deep concern over the case of Naser al-Raas – a Canadian citizen who was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment by the Bahraini regime on October 25.

Naser al-Raas was initially arrested at Bahrain International Airport when boarding a flight to Kuwait on 20 March. He was set upon by plain clothed policemen who took him into a room at the airport. They then pointed their guns and shouted abuse at him – never at any pointed stating that he was under arrest, or for what reason he was being held.

Between March 20 and April 20, Naser was detained in an underground wing of Bahrain's notorious al-Qala prison. He was frequently electrocuted and beaten with rubber hoses and wooden sticks whilst strapped to a chair as he was interrogated. He lost consciousness on a number of these occasions.

Naser suffers from a heart condition and pulmonary hypertension. He has informed human rights groups that during his time at al-Qala, he was denied access to the medicine he requires to treat his heart and lung conditions. To this date, he has not received any of the treatments that he requires.

Prior to being released from al-Qala, he was blindfolded and forced to sign a confession that he was clearly unable to read. He signed it under the duress of this prison interrogation.

The regime initially tried Naser al-Raas in a military court for allegedly killing a policeman. He was found not guilty, but was then tried in a civil court for participating in the protests. He was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment on 25 October.

I am frankly shocked and dismayed at the lack of assistance provided by the Canadian authorities to Naser and his fiancée during their time of need.

It is the duty of the Canadian government to take a proactive interest in the welfare of its citizens; and to intervene whenever and wherever their citizens are under threat from injustices abroad. Why have the Canadian authorities acted so impotently in this case?

I demand that you do your utmost to ensure that Naser al-Raas is released immediately, and that the Canadian government aid Zainab al-Ahmed in her efforts to free her fiancé. I also call upon you to personally ensure the safety of Zainab from the Bahraini regime. It is not too late for your government to act.

I look forward to you reply.

Yours sincerely,

[Your signature]

[Your name]

b) Canadian ambassador to Bahrain, residing in Saudi Arabia;

David Chatterson,

Embassy of Canada,

P.O. Box 94321

Riyadh

11693

Saudi Arabia

Telephone: +966 1 488 2288

Fax: +966 1 488 1997

Email: ryadh@international.gc.ca

[Your name]

[Your address]

David Chatterson

Embassy of Canada

P.O. Box 94321

Riyadh

11693

Saudi Arabia

[Date]

Dear Mr Chatterson,

Re: Torture and imprisonment of Canadian citizen Naser al-Raas by Bahraini regime

I would like to convey my deep concern over the case of Naser al-Raas – a Canadian citizen who was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment by the Bahraini regime on October 25.

Naser al-Raas was initially arrested at Bahrain International Airport when boarding a flight to Kuwait on 20 March. He was set upon by plain clothed policemen who took him into a room at the airport. They then pointed their guns and shouted abuse at him – never at any pointed stating that he was under arrest, or for what reason he was being held.

Between March 20 and April 20, Naser was detained in an underground wing of Bahrain's notorious al-Qala prison. He was frequently electrocuted and beaten with rubber hoses and wooden sticks whilst strapped to a chair as he was interrogated. He lost consciousness on a number of these occasions.

Naser suffers from a heart condition and pulmonary hypertension. He has informed human rights groups that during his time at al-Qala, he was denied access to the medicine he requires to treat his heart and lung conditions. To this date, he has not received any of the treatments that he requires.

Prior to being released from al-Qala, he was blindfolded and forced to sign a confession that he was clearly unable to read. He signed it under the duress of this prison interrogation.

The regime initially tried Naser al-Raas in a military court for allegedly killing a policeman. He was found not guilty, but was then tried in a civil court for participating in the protests. He was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment on 25 October.

I am frankly shocked and dismayed at the lack of assistance provided by the Canadian authorities to Naser and his fiancée during their time of need.

It is the duty of the Canadian government to take a proactive interest in the welfare of its citizens; and to intervene whenever and wherever their citizens are under threat from injustices abroad. Why have the Canadian authorities acted so impotently in this case?

I demand that you do your utmost to ensure that Naser al-Raas is released immediately, and that the Canadian government aid Zainab al-Ahmed in her efforts to free her fiancé. I also call upon you to personally ensure the safety of Zainab from the Bahraini regime. It is not too late for your government to act.

I look forward to you reply.

Yours sincerely,

[Your signature]

[Your name]

c) Canadian Ambassador in your country.

You can find the address and contact details of your local Canadian embassy here.

http://www.voyage.gc.ca/contact/offices-list_liste-bureaux-eng.asp

[Your name]

[Your address]

[Address of Canadian embassy]

[Date]

To the Canadian ambassador to [Name of country],

Re: Torture and imprisonment of Canadian citizen Naser al-Raas by Bahraini regime

I would like to convey my deep concern over the case of Naser al-Raas – a Canadian citizen who was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment by the Bahraini regime on October 25.

Naser al-Raas was initially arrested at Bahrain International Airport when boarding a flight to Kuwait on 20 March. He was set upon by plain clothed policemen who took him into a room at the airport. They then pointed their guns and shouted abuse at him – never at any pointed stating that he was under arrest, or for what reason he was being held.

Between March 20 and April 20, Naser was detained in an underground wing of Bahrain's notorious al-Qala prison. He was frequently electrocuted and beaten with rubber hoses and wooden sticks whilst strapped to a chair as he was interrogated. He lost consciousness on a number of these occasions.

Naser suffers from a heart condition and pulmonary hypertension. He has informed human rights groups that during his time at al-Qala, he was denied access to the medicine he requires to treat his heart and lung conditions. To this date, he has not received any of the treatments that he requires.

Prior to being released from al-Qala, he was blindfolded and forced to sign a confession that he was clearly unable to read. He signed it under the duress of this prison interrogation.

The regime initially tried Naser al-Raas in a military court for allegedly killing a policeman. He was found not guilty, but was then tried in a civil court for participating in the protests. He was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment on 25 October.

I am frankly shocked and dismayed at the lack of assistance provided by the Canadian authorities to Naser and his fiancée during their time of need.

It is the duty of the Canadian government to take a proactive interest in the welfare of its citizens; and to intervene whenever and wherever their citizens are under threat from injustices abroad. Why have the Canadian authorities acted so impotently in this case?

I demand that you do your utmost to ensure that Naser al-Raas is released immediately, and that the Canadian government aid Zainab al-Ahmed in her efforts to free her fiancé. I also call upon you to personally ensure the safety of Zainab from the Bahraini regime. It is not too late for your government to act.

I look forward to you reply.

Yours sincerely,

[Your signature]

[Your name]

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Please help IHRC by visiting http://www.ihrc.org.uk/catalog and making a donation or buying an item from our on-line store.

If you want to subscribe to the IHRC list please send an email to subscribe@ihrc.org

If you want to unsubscribe from the IHRC list please send an email from your subscribed email address to unsubscribe@ihrc.org

If you are reusing this alert, please cite the source.

For more information, please contact the office on the numbers or email below.

"And what reason have you that you should not fight in the way of Allah and of the weak among the men and the women and the children, (of) those who say: Our Lord! Cause us to go forth from this town, whose people are oppressors, and give us from Thee a guardian and give us from Thee a helper."

Holy Qur'an: Chapter 4, Verse 75

Join the Struggle for Justice. Join IHRC.

Islamic Human Rights Commission

PO Box 598

Wembley

HA9 7XH

United Kingdom

Telephone (+44) 20 8904 4222

Fax (+44) 20 8904 5183

Email: info@ihrc.org

Web: www.ihrc.org

Twitter @ihrc