Leading Bahraini human rights activist Said Yousif Almuhafda was yesterday beaten by Bahraini police, infront of his two young daughters, before being detained for 3 hours. It is the latest in a wave of attacks against human rights and opposition activists, with Nabeel Rajab and Zeinab Alkhawaja still behind bars until now.
Said Yousif gave us a full account of his harrowing ordeal from the moment he was stopped by police. He said, “I was driving in the street close to Zayed City when I was stopped by traffic police, in the middle of the highway. I was told that I was wanted after being identified at the checkpoint in A’ali. A police car then arrived (numbered 6054) and 4 officers punched and slapped me infront of my daughters.”
He then describes what happened when another police car (numbered 5415) arrived. “A traffic policeman forcibly took my phone from me, whilst another was inspecting my car. They found a banner with a picture of Nabeel Rajab and asked me who it was. I told them it was Nabeel and they told me to say ‘no this is our whore’. When I refused to speak such language, especially infront of my children, I was punched twice in the head.”
“The worst thing and what hurts me the most was that this took place in front of my daughters”
After this shocking level of abuse a policeman drove his car to a checkpoint “at very high speed”. He said, “I called my wife to pick up my daughters and was then accompanied by force to the central police station. There they took my testimony and confiscated two banners than had been in my car. I was held for 3 hours in total without any access to a lawyer or any warrant being presented for my arrest. Before I was released I was forced to sign a pledge that I would return to the police station when summoned, again without a lawyer.”
“The worst thing and what hurts me the most was that this took place in front of my daughters (5 and 2 years old). They were crying throughout the ordeal and were very scared about what would happen. Children should never be forced to witness such brutality.”
The violent attack and detention of Said Yousif is another worrying reminder of the treatment faced by human rights activists in a country that claims to respect the values of human rights. It raises serious questions over the impunity that police officers act with and the clear lack of concern they have of being brought to justice for consistent harassment. The personal identifying of Said Yousif suggests a high level of official collusion in the attack and is further evidence of the systematic nature of the violence of the Bahraini authorities. The authorities have not issued any statement on the incident