Alwaght- Over the past year, Bahraini activists, politicians and clerics faced torture, threats and extortion, inside the regime's death chambers.
Opponents of the Al Khalifa dictatorship have experienced a brutal period during 2017 including torture, extortion, travel bans and attacks on homes and properties, as well as pressures and threats aimed at turning activists and rights defenders- some of whom who were detained-into informants.
US President backs Bahrain crackdown
On May 21, US President Donald Trump met with the King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain in Riyadh and assured him of the improved relationship with the United States. A couple of days later, the Bahraini authorities launched a violent security raid on a peaceful sit-in in the village of Diraz, leaving five protesters killed and arresting nearly 400 others. In the following days, the authorities launched a massive campaign against activists and rights human rights defenders.
The vehicles of three activists were mysteriously set on fire: Sayed Salman Al-Mahfoudh, former head of the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions (GFBTU), Khalil Al-Marzouq, political assistant to the secretary-general of the largest opposition party in Bahrain, Al-Wefaq, which was dissolved by a very controversial court verdict, and rights activist Ebtisam Al-Sayegh following a media campaign launched against her.
According to The Bahrain Mirror, targeting the families of political and human rights activists was another form of pressure practiced against them. The mother-in-law and brother-in-law of London-based human rights activist, Ahmed Al-Wadaie, were arrested over their alleged involvement in activities that go under the Terrorism Act. The fathers of activist Yousuf Al-Houri, who resides in Germany, and Isa al-Ali, who lives in the UK, were also summoned after the activists planned to hold a sit-in protesting the King's attendance at a horse race in the British city of Windsor.
The National Security Agency (NSA), specifically the third floor of the Muharraq police station, was the champion of torture incidents throughout 2017. About 40 human rights defenders and political activists were summoned for interrogation there. They were tortured and threatened to be killed unless they quit their rights activities and were bluntly offered to work for the agency.
Some activists remained silent in order to avoid being exposed to more harassment, others chose to back down quietly, while others decided to reveal the torture and intimidation they had been subjected to.
On July 10, Nabeel Rajab, Bahrain's leading human rights activist and head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), was sentenced to two years in prison after having been tried in a case over television interviews conducted in 2015 and 2016 that the authorities claimed "undermined the prestige of the state."
Rajab's latest arrest was made on June 13, 2016, during which he was treated in a degrading manner and subjected to deliberate harassment and humiliation.
Three human rights organizations (The Persian Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, Bahrain Forum for Human Rights, SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights) issued an extensive report on the violations of the Bahraini National Security Agency in August, entitled, "Death Chambers": A report documenting the violations of the National Security Agency (NSA) in Bahrain.
Last month four Bahraini human rights organizations also issued a report under the title of "Death or Confession", on violations due to secret military courts that tried civilians whose confessions were extracted under torture.
Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the country in mid-February 2011.
They are demanding that the US-backed Al Khalifah dynasty relinquishes power and pave way for a just democratic system in the country.
The Manama regime has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist Bahrain in its crackdown.