A Victim of Chambers of Death
The torture and investigations inside the National Security Agency in Bahrain
I am Ebrahim Jawad Abdullah Sarhan, a Bahraini national; my passport number is 2534342 and identity number 810705176. My date of birth is 28/7/1981 and I am 36 years, and am a legal adviser.
- Summon Background:
On May 23, 2017, at about 9 am, I received a call from Al-Mayadeen News channel. I was invited to participate in a live broadcast of what was going on in the town of Al Duraz, where a security operation was carried on to end a peaceful sit-in for Bahraini citizens in support to Sheikh Isa Qassim, a Shia religious cleric. I accepted to speak on the channel to cover the legal aspect only.
After about an hour of this phone call, I was on air to present the legal opinion in the process of dismantling sit-ins, about the violations that took place at the time, and about the killing of five Bahraini citizens participating in the sit-in, where I also called upon the international human rights community to monitor the human rights violations taking place.
- A Summon from the National Security Agency:
The next day, on May 24, 2017, I received a call from the National Security Agency at 9:00 AM. The caller asked me to come immediately to the building of the National Security Agency in Muharraq in an urgent and immediate manner. He said if I did not go he will raid my residence location (my house). I immediately called the lawyer and took him with me and arrived at about 11:05 AM.
Upon my arrival with the lawyer and presenting the lawyer’s official paper to the receptionist, he took all what was in our pockets from telephones, wallets, to papers and watches. We were inspected before we were asked about our names. Then a civilian officer came and asked who Ebrahim Sarhan was. I answered him immediately: I am. He asked me who this is? I told him: This is my lawyer and he has a power of attorney. The officer ordered the employee to hand over all his belongings and he must leave the building immediately. The lawyer was taken out.
As soon as the lawyer came out at about 11:10 ِ’, I was thoroughly searched while violently pulling me from my hand, shouting, cursing and insulting my religious sector and national and religious symbols. Then I was entered into a room dedicated to torture. The walls were dark black and the lights were blurred and the floor was stained with blood. It had cameras, two computers and a round table with five officers wearing “Thoub” and “Ghetra” the Khaleeji dress code, except for one officer who was wearing jeans and dark gray T-shirt. All of the officers were wearing dark sunglasses.
I greeted them but no one answered, and immediately one of the officers (who was called the big torturer) stood up and the torture began after two of his assistants stopped me with my hands from behind. The torture continued by beating me all over my body in a random way, yet it focused on punching and slapping on the face and eyes. Then he ordered the assistants to open my legs in a V shape to make it easier for the executioner to kick my genitals while screaming at me: “You will not have children anymore”. Torture continued as “first meal” as he called it for a quarter of an hour.
Then I was stood straight and he asked me to turn my head off the ground so that I could not see their faces continuously until the moment I left the building at 6:30 PM. An officer stood in front of me smoking at my face and began asking:
Officer: What is your name?
Me: Ebrahim Jawad
Punch on my ear from the officer,
Officer: Say my name is Ebrahim Sarhan, because this is the famous name,
Me: Ok, my name is Ebrahim Sarhan.
Officer: What did you do yesterday?
Me: I did nothing that is legally wrong.
Punching on my face from the officer,
Officer: Do you remember or shall we remind you of your statements?
Me: Ahaa, did you mean my participation on Al-Mayadeen channel?!
Officer: Yes, all your interventions are recorded and written word by word with us, and what did you say in your interview??
Anna: My participation was limited to presenting the legal opinion.
Officer: We know that, but you asked for international intervention, do you mean calling Iran “the Majoosi” (a previous religion in Iran before Islam) to come and save you all?
Me: Sorry, but I have identified the international human rights community and requested to monitor what happened yesterday, I did not identify a state or country and I did not name a specific party.
Kicks on my stomach and genitals, and the kicks were violent to a degree where I fell on the ground many times and the assistants kept holding me up while cursing and insulting using the ugliest words.
Officer: Why do you participate in TV channels from abroad?
Me: I received a call from the channel and they invited me to participate, and I accepted under the condition that my intervention be in the legal frame only.
The officer laughs mockingly: Hahaha, you have to forget the law and human rights, the US president has changed and the situation has changed, and what the US president wants to have has arrived to him, and from now on we will do with you what we want (here he used obscene words).
Me: I do engage in politics and all my work is in the legal field.
Officer: O son of the whore (ugly and dirty cursing), you seem to deserve a bottle to be inserted in your anus. Dogs! (referring to his assistants) take off his clothes.
Me: What did I do? what do you want?
Officer: Either you cooperate with us or experience the bottle’s comfort inside your anus.
Me: But I am collaborating. I am answering all the questions.
Officer: To cooperate is to give us information about activists, whether they are human rights activists or politicians.
Me: I have little to do with human rights activists and politicians except in the field of law when they ask me for advice, which is rare.
Again, the officer asks his assistants to take off my clothes by force and keep me in my underwear. The officer said to me, “If you do not show your willingness to cooperate now, one of our men will rape you.” I told him that “I am collaborating and had nothing to hide from you”.
After that they brought one of the security personnel, a muscular man with a brown skin to sexually harass me. I refused and I hysterically raised my voice: I swear that this does not do any of us good and I did not do anything contrary to the law and I am not lying to you, and God I am telling the truth.
I was repeating this, when suddenly a strong blow from the back hit me on my right hand and my body fell unconscious. I realized it was an electric shock, coming conscious once again after few minutes. My body was sweating a lot even though the place was cold. The officer assistants lifted me up and made me stand once again.
Officer: you will not get out of our grip, would you better tell us who issues Al Wefaq statements?
I denied their charges and the officer ordered to move me to another office which is a narrow 2X3m room and I was asked to face the wall at the corner and to bend down my and not to try to see any movement in the room and my hands be in the back. Then two other officers entered and sat at an iron table. One of them asked and the other wrote everything I answered.
The officers began to mock and insult my dignity with all bad and ugly words.
Officer: How much is your monthly income?
Me: about two thousand dinars (5000 Euros).
Officer: Waao, and then you oppose the government?
Me: I’m not an oppositionist as you imagine.
Officer: So why did they bring you here?
Me: I do not know.
Officer: You are a member of Al Wefaq, then you are an oppositionist.
Me: I work according to the law and not against it.
Officer: This session seems to be fun, because you will teach us the law.
Me: Not at all, you are guarding the country and implementing the law and you do not need anyone to teach you.
After that, many personal questions were asked for more than two hours. The questions were about personal information, about the family, the nature of my work and my monthly income.
Then the officers got out, and an officer came (wearing jeans and t-shirt). When he entered, he came from behind me and grabbed me from my hair and began to hit my head against the wall. He said, “I am here alone and I shall do whatever I wish to you. I will make an example out of you for anyone who thinks to appear on the media and raise his voice against to the government”.
Officer: Who organizes protests in your neighborhood?
Me: I do not participate in protests; I do not know the people or the organizers.
Officer: Cooperate with me and I’ll give you a last chance, if you do not give me names you will get the real torture and so far you have not got anything.
Me: How can I give you names that I do not know?
The officer yelled loudly: “bring me in the bottle with a condom”, and a few seconds later, a man came to him carrying what he asked. The officer approached me and put the bottle and condom in front of my eyes. The bottle was of glass and 7up brand.
Officer: Do you wish to sit on this bottle? Or do you want the beautiful young man to f*** you? You have two options not more.
I remained silent.
Officer: Speak, O …… insult and curse.
I remained silent.
The officer comes from the back and kick me so my head hits the wall.
Officer: Call the beautiful young man.
Moments later a long person enters and has a large beard without a mustache and light skin. The officer grabs my head and raises it towards this person and says: Do you like him?
I remained silent.
The officer approached me and started beating and called two people to assist him and kicked me all over my body and put me to the ground, crushing my body and stepping on it.
Here the beating stopped and the officer started asking questions again.
Officer: Did you get a housing benefit?
Officer: Did you get an educational scholarship?
Officer: How much is your salary in Al Wefaq?
Me: I do not work with a salary.
Officer: What do you think if we give you a working position at the National Institute for Human Rights? You are a lawyer and we can provide you with a job in there.
Me: I do not want to, my work is enough and with good incomes.
Officer: But we’ll close the office you’re working in.
Me: If that will happen because of me, I’ll leave the office and there’s no reason to harass others because of me.
Officer: How will you live without work?
Me: God shall take care of my living.
Officer: I’m going now, and a car from the Criminal Investigation Directorate CID will come and you are accused of inciting hatred against the regime and your punishment is three years in prison. Do you want to save yourself from this charge and punishment before I go away?
I remained silent.
Officer: Speak you animal …….
Me: I have no comment, because I am shocked, how can I be accused of a charge I did not commit and you did not investigate with me on such charges.
Officer: You do not know who we are?
Me: Yes, the National Security Agency.
Officer: True, but do you know the former name?
Me: State Security.
Officer: You’re clever, but malicious.
Here the officer came out and one of his assistants came and gave me my shirt, suit, belt, and my phone (which was searched) and my identity and asked me to dress quickly, and when I put on my clothes, he took me to the toilets.
Once I got in the toilet I knew it was about sunset from the small window, where I also thought it was night time. When I got out of the toilet he gave me a small bottle of water and told me to drink, I took a small sip, and he took me back to the room and said to me now you can sit down towards the corner.
Five minutes later, two officers came and asked me to stand up and said, “Now you go to your mother and we will call you to come back. We will not take you to the CID because it is crowded with animals like you right now. One of them escorted us to the elevator door and asked me to get out of the building without lifting my head until I reached the street.
- The Second Summon:
On Wednesday, May 31, 2017, the National Security Agency called me again from the phone number 17188888, and I was asleep. I did not answer the phone calls. At 10:15 AM I received the call from a national security officer asking me to come immediately.
I arrived at the building of the National Security Agency at 11:00 AM. Immediately, five officers entered the interrogation room. They sat me in a chair opposite the officers’ table. Three of them were wearing Thoub and red Ghetra “the Khaleeji dress code”, and two officers were wearing jeans. One of them with blue jeans and black t-shirt and the other with light blue jeans and red t-shirt.
I was able to see their faces. Four of them had the same voices that investigated with me last time and one seemed to be in highest position and quietly talked to me. This person was the one investigating with me this time and the rest just listened.
Officer: Hi Mr. Ebrahim Sarhan, I am Abu Mohammed and I heard that you were interrogated with last Wednesday. unfortunately, you got some things that you should not get, and I hope you cooperate with me so that you do not get it again.
Me: I am cooperating with you and you are a security body and every citizen should cooperate with the security for the public interest which serves the country.
Officer: I knew you were a legal adviser and you have a position in the community and I want you to have a positive role in our work.
Officer: You have to give us your information that threatens the security of the country.
Me: Sorry, I do not get such information, and I have no information that could be threatening the country, and the country, thankfully, is not threatened by terrorism or terrorist groups.
Officer: But there is the opposition?
Me: The opposition operates according to the law and in public, there are no secret organizations and so like, and all information is available on the social networks.
Officer: Are you from the opposition?
Me: I do not classify myself as an oppositionist, and all my work is in the field of law and this area serves the country and I consider myself a servant of the country.
Officer: But you are affiliated with Al Wefaq, a terrorist organization.
Me: I am sorry, officer. The society worked according to the law and was licensed by the Ministry of Justice, and then I was a member of it, but after its closure, my membership was no longer valid.
Officer: But you have contact with their leaders.
Me: A social contact with no criminal suspicion.
Officer: Why don’t you move to work with the National Institute for Human Rights after the closure of Al Wefaq?
Me: The board of directors of the institute is appointed by the king and its employees are public, and this does not accept mixing the profession of law and public office. My income from the profession is better, the profession of law is free and I do not want to leave the free work.
Officer: Why did not you publish what happened to you in the previous summon?
Me: I do not see a need in that.
Officer: Are you hateful and want revenge from what happened to you?
Me: hatred is not a good attribute of man, and retribution is the language of the weak and the ignorant, and I do not hate you and it is not in my mind an atom of the idea of revenge. We humans make mistakes and we forgive.
Officer: Do you consider what happened to you wrong from us?
Me: I hope it will not be repeated because it is contrary to the directives of the political leadership, headed by the king of the country.
Officer: Where did you learn the law?
Me: in Egypt.
Officer: Where did you learn philosophy?
Me: I did not learn philosophy.
Officer: But you use philosophy in your answers, as evidenced by the previous question (Do you consider what happened to you wrong)?
Me: I think this is logic and not philosophy.
Officer: It does not matter now, what is your relationship with Ebtisam AlSaegh?
Me: I have nothing to do with her.
Officer: But she says she has a relationship with you in the field of human rights.
Me: I do not consider contacts I have received from dozens of people require legal advice or legal inquiry a relationship.
Officer: Ahaaa, and what is your relationship with Mr. Radhi Al Qatari?
Me: I have nothing to do with him.
Officer: But he says he gave you a sum of money and has a joint work with you?
Me: This is not true, and I do not need money or joint work with anyone. My income is enough and does not make me need for such money or work.
Officer: You’re handsome, your personality is strong, and you enjoy ingenuity, and I want you to work with the NSA.
Me: sorry, how?
Officer: to stay in contact with me via telephone and WhatsApp and give me legal advice, information and general news and to be friends.
Me: The National Security Agency has enough security personnel to keep the security and it does not need people like me to be involved in its work. I do not enjoy social relations and I do not follow news and events because I spend my whole time in writing legal pleadings and consultations.
Officer: Do you have a desire to be a member of the Parliament?
Me: No, the responsibility of the legislator is heavy and I do not consider myself qualified to carry such responsibility.
Officer: Are the persons in the parliament better than you?
Me: I do not follow that, and I cannot assess members of the parliament.
Officer: But you are critical of their work.
Me: sorry, I criticize some laws that according to my theory need to be modified to be more advanced, and not criticize the work of deputies.
Officer: and do you criticize the judges?
Me: Appealing is the work of the lawyer and is the basis of his profession and the challenge is not criticism, because the judge and the lawyer seek justice and they complete the role of each other.
An officer shouted and said, “You are an eloquent and lying person”. Suddenly, the officer who interrogated me interrupted him to be silenced. The investigation continued. Three hours later, the officer asked me to leave the building and that he would contact me later.