Bahrain commission report: Expats subjected to ‘physical, psychological torture’

Published: November 26, 2011
Riot police move in to disperse emboldened protesters after a rights inquiry found evidence of systematic abuse during the crushing of pro-democracy protests this year. PHOTO: REUTERS

Riot police move in to disperse emboldened protesters after a rights inquiry found evidence of systematic abuse during the crushing of pro-democracy protests this year. PHOTO: REUTERS


Around 8,110 complaints and statements of various human rights abuses were received, and a “systematic practice of physical and psychological mistreatment” was uncovered when the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) began an investigation in July into protests that took place in the Gulf Kingdom earlier this year.

A report released by the BICI on Wednesday provides an extensive overview into the gruesome riots.

The 489-page account also mentions the methods employed by security personnel, including Pakistanis, in Bahrain, and the violence targeted toward expatriate workers. The extensive report notes that a large number of security personnel in Bahrain are from Iraq, Jordan, Pakistan and Yemen.

The role of Pakistani-origin security forces in the violent crackdown against protesters in Bahrain was initially reported by The Express Tribune in March, as it was revealed that the Fauji Foundation’s Overseas Employment Services was recruiting Pakistani ex-servicemen to serve in Bahrain’s security forces. A former military officer is also reportedly involved in headhunting for the same purpose.

The Foreign Office spokesperson said at the time that “these Pakistanis are not being sent by the government of Pakistan. They are employed in Bahrain in their individual capacity”.

Security forces subject protesters to torture

The BICI report investigates the deaths of protesters while they were in Bahraini custody. In the case of Zakariya Rashid Hassan al Asheri, investigators found that he had died as a result of torture. The interior ministry claimed he had “sickle cell anemia”, which Asheri’s family said he did not have.

A fellow detainee told the commission that Asheri was beaten up by security forces.

“The witness stated that all the detainees in the same cell were blindfolded and handcuffed, and forced to lie on their stomachs. On one of the mornings, the deceased began to experience hallucinations or confusion, whereby he began banging on the door shouting his name. The prison guards shouted at him to be quiet and when he did not comply, they entered his cell. The witness heard the deceased being beaten and he heard him scream after each beating. The witness then heard a shuffling noise after which the deceased’s shouts became muffled. The witness then heard a Pakistani say in Urdu, ‘He is dead’.”

Another detainee, who was arrested in April, said that he was routinely beaten and insulted by the prison guards of Pakistani origin. One, who was beaten up and sexually molested in custody, was transferred to a jail run by Pakistani officers where he was “forced to stand for prolonged periods, had limited access to a toilet and was subjected to routine beatings up to three times per day”.

Targeting Pakistanis

The report also highlights that expatriate workers were attacked because many protesters believed they were part of the security forces. On March 3, violence was reported in the vicinity of the Pakistani embassy in Manama. But it was on March 13, termed an “important turning point in the sequence of events in Bahrain”, that there was an increase in attacks against Pakistanis and other expatriate workers.

Quoting investigations by the interior ministry and reports by Pakistan’s foreign ministry, the commission’s report states that one Pakistani man was beaten to death, another later succumbed to his injuries and a third was “violently assaulted” while residences where Pakistanis lived also came under attack.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 26th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (12)

  • arshad
    Nov 26, 2011 - 2:47PM

    COMPARING Bahrain and Syria, in bahrain ruled by sunni only 15 protesters killed and they too while attacking pakistanis and foreigners while in syria which is ruled by shia alwaits daily 30 to 40 are killed since march and more than 4000 were killed total and number of missing since 1970 since syria is ruled so about 200000 laks are killed and equally missing and exiled and thousands wounded.Writer should pick article about innocent sunnis in syria who have no spokesman.Bahrain has a good spokesman in the form of hypocrite iran who cry in whole world for bahrain. thanks. also love for giving us a chance to express our hearts wholeheartedly as expressing views make one free from depression and heart diseases


  • j. von hettlingen
    Nov 26, 2011 - 4:21PM

    Although the uprisings in both Bahrain and Syria are politically motivated, in which protesters reject suppression and disenfranchisement, the sectarian conflicts are the driving forces as well. The Sunni powerholders in Bahrain are well advised to reform their political system. In Syria the resentments and hatred toward the Alawite regime have reached a point of no return, that Assad has no choice but steps down.


  • Nov 26, 2011 - 5:54PM

    There is a Pakistani officer – his name is Najim – jailed in Bahrain because he refused to shoot at the Bahraini protesters.

    The Pakistan government should try to get him back to Pakistan!


  • Munir Akram
    Nov 26, 2011 - 6:05PM

    Why the shia citizens of Bahrain deprived of all those jobs, which allow them to carry guns etc; and why these jobs are given to non Bahrainis (Pakistanis being prominent). Is that the reasons Pakistani expatriates were attacked and NOT the Indians? Have we learnt from the old mistakes of Afghanistan where we only supported Talibans against the northern alliance?


  • Nov 26, 2011 - 7:33PM

    Arshad, why is your bias or sectarian resentment overlooking the problems for Pakistani expats in Bahrain? It is simply news that is relevant. Unfortunately it seems overseas news has stoked local prejudices in Pakistanis, as some commentators and recent news can attest to.

    While no doubt Iran’s hypocrisy got exposed, to now which they are late in backtracking, it does not downplay the plight of the Bahrainis or expats, the same way the atrocities in Syria or Libya necessarily downplay the plights in Egypt or Palestine or their news reporting, though indeed Syria is more immediate and urgent as Libya once was.

    Regardless, the Arab League, who too are hypocritical considering the members who cracked down on dissent in their own countries, such as Saudi Arabia, which even went as so far as sending troops into Bahrain, are at least applying pressure on the Syrian regime.


  • Truth speaker
    Nov 27, 2011 - 12:50AM

    @bigsaf. Dear arshad is right 100%. You wrong. Who says United states is against iran. According to think tanks, it is west who removed anti-iran governments from afghanistan(sunni taliban) and saddam hussain in Iraq. This is game to make iran strong from both sides. If israel or usa were against iran then they will have supported anti-iran government of afghanistan and iraq to attack iran but instead they removed anti iran governments and install pure shia tajik And uzbek government in afghanistan and pure shia government in iraq. Similarly it is said that usa have told iran that i will publicly say words against you and you continue nuclear weapons. Usa has told iran if i do not use words against you then saudi arabia and gulf nations will start nuclear weapons. Similarly iran will make atom bomb one day then usa says they will then say now best relations is our compulsion with iran. Actually west want to strengthen shia block for their vested interest and this is reason syria will never be attacked in spite of worst human right violations of the century. It is sunni every where who were killed around the world from pakistan to taliban to arab israel wars and never shia has fought us nor any shia killed in direct fights with us army. If iran really islamic leader then send freedom fighters to afghanistan. Why not sending.Recommend

  • Ahmad
    Nov 27, 2011 - 1:41AM

    In Bahrain no one is allowed to keep guns, irrespective he/she is a bahraini, non-bahraini, sunni or shia. This news item is biased. Bahraini security forces have people from different countries. If i compare the handling of protests with that of how it is done in Pakistan, Bahrain is very lenient. I think we have more political prisoners in Pakistan than in Bahrain.


  • SYED
    Nov 27, 2011 - 9:55AM

    Arshad , I am devastated by the way you referred to the fact that “ONLY” 15 protesters died in Bahrain when you know how fake cases are registered against innocent protesters in authoritarian regimes. Unlike you , I respect every human beings sacred “right of life” irrespective of the sect . Human lives need to be protected by uprooting despots both in Syria and Bahrain and not by highlighting which regime kills more innocent civilians. A reminder of your own words “Writer should pick article about innocent sunnis in syria who have no spokesman.” This way you are only instigating sectarian hatred with heinous repercussions. Journalists should rather exercise their power of ink to create more national and international pressure against these despots (who have no faith in religion but use it as a weapon of mass control . Which sunni or shia would go on justifying the killing of innocent civilians?). Journalists should also engage the government to participate in the debate , whether we do have to export our man power , (while knowing how inhumanely they are required to be) at the cost of a bad name for Pakistan. Since we cannot afford this shame, especially at this time when we are being bombarded by international regimes from all directions. Think again .


  • sunny
    Nov 27, 2011 - 4:57PM

    @Truth speaker: You have painted an unsubstantiated lie – the US through their regional agent Saudi have used money, force and God to harm muslims in general and shia muslims in particular bringing shame to Islam. It is the Saudi school of thought who term killing of shia as acceptable in Islam. As a result masscacre in Pakistan and Afghanistan was started. The discrimination and societal violence and genocide of shiites in Pakistan has only become a norm. Education is a key for knowing the truth leave alone speaking of it.


  • Munchey
    Nov 27, 2011 - 9:30PM

    There is no excuse for human rights abuses no matter where they are, Syria or Bahrain and regardless of who the abusers are. Therefore it is an extremely biased approach to create a hierarchy, which is baseless. A journalist therefore, by uncovering such truths is doing exactly what their role requires, and must be encouraged!


  • First drink, don't think
    Nov 28, 2011 - 12:26AM

    Iran has always tried to project their Shia agenda. Inside Pakistan, they too are funding huge amounts in form of infrastructure and education. I have seen their Madrassa’s in Quetta and thoroughly gone through the Shia dominant areas like Mariabad, Quetta. Relationship between Iran and Pakistan is very confusing one. They are devil in disguise, perhaps. It wasn’t very late in history when Iran and India were enjoying very warn ties but it was until sanctions were placed on Iran and India moved out as if they don’t know Iranians at all. Iran doesn’t like Pakistan much, but they can’t show their hatred in open, for Pakistan is one of the major supports for Iran. Iran is surrounded by NATO, ISAF and US from three sides and if they make Pakistan angry, Pakistan won’t hesitate becoming the 4th and final side. But Iran do keeps on taking Pakistan and Pakistanis indirectly, just like what happened in Bahrain.


  • You Said It
    Nov 28, 2011 - 1:00PM

    Are you sure you really want to make this a Sunni-Shia tally? If you go by this method, then we should perhaps look at Pakistan, where far more Shias are killed than Sunnis — recent attacks against Hazaras are but a case in point. By this measure, the author should forget about Bahrain and write about Pakistan.
    Let’s not trivialize the issue by making this about who has committed the greater wrong. There is no doubt that both Bahrain and Syria have both committed grave violations and attacks against their own citizens — the greatest sin a government can commit. This is the time to call both into account for their actions. Arab League’s sanctions against Syria have no moral grounds so long as they continue to ignore Bahrain’s repression.


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