The International Criminal Court (ICC) will decide this week as to whether it plans to accept a case of war crimes against Bahrain’s government. A group of Bahrainis living in Britain, with a team of international lawyers, travelled to The Hague last week to present their report to the prosecutor.
The 500 page report features testimonies of widespread torture, human rights violations and extra judicial executions, all carried out by state authorities. The crimes include the recent repression by government thugs against the mass uprising that took place in February. It killed at least 31 people.
The West has remained largely silent over the plight of Bahrainis fighting against the regime. But the hope is that this case will bring attention to the brutal repression carried out by the ruling Al Khalifa family. ICC representatives had promised to look at the case immediately due to the continuing crackdown.
Those travelling from Britain are no strangers to the crimes committed by the Bahraini regime. Jaffar Al Hasadi lives in London but was arrested last summer at Bahrain International Airport, on his way into Bahrain.
He said, “They used many types of torture on me. It was like the Middle Ages. They hung us in a ‘chicken’ position, putting my head between my legs and raising my legs up. The pain was so intense and they beat us all over our bodies. All the time we were blindfolded.”
Another who wishes to protect his identity described the humiliation he experienced after organising a protest in support of unemployed workers. “I was kidnapped from my home and taken to a quiet dark place where I was beaten and then raped. I was told if I ever try to do this again I will face the same treatment.”
The Bahrainis who have joined this delegation have done so in the knowledge that they will never be allowed to return home and that their families will probably face reprisals. Yasser, who lives in Manchester, said his nephew in Bahrain has been missing for three months. Yasser says this is revenge for his activism in Britain.
“We know the risks but we can’t be silent anymore,” he said. “Bahrain needs us.”