Hajer Mansoor and Medina Ali are both currently being held in the Isa Town Female Detention Centre. These are their stories, in their own words. Click here to read more here about the abuse of women prisoners in Bahrain.
I have been imprisoned at Bahrain’s Isa Town Female Detention Centre since March 2017. I committed no crime, but the government wanted to punish my son in law for his activism in the UK. I was convicted, along with my son and nephew, without any evidence—but instead with confessions extracted from us under torture.
My own ordeal is painful, but seeing my family undergo the same brutality is a different, more agonizing form of suffering.
I have been at Isa Town since May 2017.
I vividly remember the day I was taken: I was driving to work and was pulled out of my car by masked, armed men, who threatened to kill me and rape members of my family.
During my detention, I was harshly beaten and told I would be raped if I didn’t confess. The injuries I sustained on my head have left their mark; a painful reminder of my powerlessness at the time.
When we protested for the discrimination against us for our status as political prisoners, we were confined to our cells for up to 23 hours a day and constantly humiliated by prison authorities. They confiscate our religious texts, isolate us from other inmates, monitor our phone calls and refuse us urgent medical care. Last September, when our cases were raised internationally, we were assaulted, and our mistreatment has intensified since then.
However, none of this indignity compares to the pain of being separated from our young children and elderly parents. The prison authorities have installed a glass barrier during visits, preventing any physical contact. To be forced to speak to your child through a pane of glass, unable to hold or comfort them, is too painful to bear, and prevents us from seeing our families. In the last year, we have had just one solitary visit without the barrier, granted only after significant international pressure.
Yet, when we report our mistreatment to the so-called oversight bodies Western governments have trained to investigate allegations of torture and ill-treatment, they dismiss our claims or justify our abuse. After the release of a report last month on the abuse of female political prisoners in Bahrain, the Vice-President of the so-called National Institute for Human Rights warned us to stop speaking to foreign activists.
They asked: “Haven’t you spent enough time in prison?”
While the west continues to turn a blind eye to the depravations of the Bahraini regime, thousands of political prisoners like us are suffocating in this place. As long as the U.S. and U.K. have a place to sell their guns and moor their warships, they are content for a repressive state to do what they like to their citizens. We urge you to raise our plight with your representatives and let them know that you won’t tolerate their silence.