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Amnesty International Urges Investigation into Alleged Torture of Detained Bahrain Student
WASHINGTON - January 6 - Fresh reports of the torture of an 18-year old student in detention are yet another blow to Bahrain’s promises of reform, Amnesty International said today.
Police allegedly subjected Hassan ‘Oun to torture, including beatings and threats of rape after his arrest in Manama on January 3.
"As such horrendous cases of human rights abuse keep piling up, the Bahraini authorities’ promises of change ring ever more hollow," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.
Hassan’s family has told Amnesty International that he was interrogated about his contact with the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. The student had told the Center about being tortured by police during a previous 2011 arrest, following his involvement in anti-government protests.
"We are concerned that Hassan ‘Oun may have been targeted again for arrest because he dared to report police abuses," said Sahraoui.
According to family members, Hassan told his lawyer that the police had forced him to stand for about 11 hours, and that he had been beaten on his feet with a hose and threatened with rape. Hassan’s lawyer and other witnesses have reportedly seen signs of torture on his body, and that one of his legs is swollen from injury.
"These allegations of torture must be investigated immediately," said Sahraoui. "If Hassan is being held solely for his peaceful activities, he should be released immediately."
After being held in a police station for a day, Hassan was questioned at the Public Prosecutor’s Office (PPO) on January 4 in the presence of a lawyer. The PPO extended his detention for 45 days pending investigation, under illegal public gathering charges. Hassan was then transferred to the Dry Dock Prison in Manama.
His family have not been allowed to see him, although yesterday they received permission to visit him next week.
Nearly a year on from the crackdown on anti-government demonstrations at Manama’s Pearl Roundabout in 2011, scores of health workers, opposition and human rights activists, teachers and others are still facing trials or serving prison sentences.
The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) report released in November 2011, and welcomed by the King of Bahrain, was deeply critical of the authorities’ handling of the demonstrations, and of abuses against peaceful demonstrators in the following months.
"Every new case of abuse of protesters makes a mockery of the BICI findings," said Sahraoui. "The Bahraini authorities need to show that they are going to take human rights seriously and must reign in their security forces."