Bahraini human rights activists say that torture in the country is getting worse despite the international spotlight on the nation.
In a meeting at the House of Lords in London yesterday several alleged torture victims gave harrowing testimonies of their ordeals and those of their loved ones and complained that the Bahraini regime is not being held to account.
Former opposition MP Jalal Fairooz said: “They use electric shocks and sleep deprivation and shocks to the brain using microwave technology. They put you in stress positions and solitary confinement and sometimes they even bring your family in front of you and threaten to rape them, including teenage daughters. This is all done in an attempt to silence political dissent.”
Lawyer Mohammed al-Tajir added: “They use extreme temperatures to try and break you like hot and cold. They will throw you in freezing water or off the second floor of a building to break your bones. The West is not putting enough pressure on Bahrain so they are in effect giving them a green light to continue these abuses.”
Two and a half years after a huge popular uprising broke out in the Gulf nation human rights defenders say that policeman who murdered and tortured protestors have not been held to account. Meanwhile, western nations, including the UK, continue to supply the regime with weapons and provide it with political support.
Manama says that the uprising was instigated by foreign powers – a reference to Iran – and that it has thoroughly investigated alleged abuses. It says it is currently conducting a national dialogue with the opposition to bring about national reconciliation and reform.
The uprising was crushed in 2011 with the military assistance of Saudi Arabia at the cost of dozens of lives. The majority Shia community complain of systematic discrimination and are agitating for reform or regime change. Many of their main political leaders are in jail.
Meanwhile, the minority Sunni rulers say they are simply trying to restore stability and prosperity to a country that is under attack from rioters and criminals.
The struggle has turned increasingly sectarian over the past few years with communities very polarised. Many Bahraini activists are exiled in the UK after having been forced to leave their country because of their political opposition to the regime.