Bahrain: updates on Sayed Hashem Alawi, a 22-year-old Bahraini student detained

Sayed Hashem Alawi is a college student at the University of Bahrain. He is currently detained in Jau Prison and during his imprisonment he suffered cases of torture and ill-treatment by authorities. Sayed was the first defendant in the “February 14 Coalition” cases, a web political movement which has become a symbol of resistance and fortitude since 2012 and has been classified by officials as a terrorist organization.

The first trial took place on 17 May 2017, when Sayed Hashem was summoned to appear in court on charges of illegal assembly and manufacturing explosives. He failed to appear, and an arrest warrant was immediately released by authorities. On 26 February 2018, riot police officers caught and arrested him at a relative’s house, along with two other friends. Police officers took Sayed Hashem to the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID), where they interrogated him for two weeks, refusing to share any news on his situation. He was also subjected to torture, ill-treatment and coercion. No external communication with his lawyer was allowed by authorities, neither the possibility to attend the interrogation sessions of his client. Officers blindfolded, handcuffed, and shackled Sayed Hashem during the entire interrogation and repeatedly beat him. Moreover, they forced him to sign a false confession while blindfolded in order to use it against him at the trial. As a result of the torture he was subjected to, Sayed Hashem still suffers from back pain and detaining authorities deny Sayed’s requests to see a doctor.

Mr. Alawi was charged with joining the “February 14 Coalition,” harbouring a fugitive, espionage, filming a burning car, establishing and financing a terrorist group. On 27 July 2018, he was sentenced to five years in prison for filming the burning car; on 30 September 2018 to three years for harbouring a fugitive; and on 27 December 2018 to life in prison and the revocation of his citizenship for the “February 14 Coalition” charge. The sentences for the first and second charges were upheld on appeal, and the appeal for the third charge is scheduled for 21 April 2019.

The European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) condemns the inhuman treatment and the coercive measures systematically adopted by governmental officials. The case of Sayed Hashem Alawi, likewise those of multiple detained human rights defender, torments our daily advocacy activity. In the hope of better news on the case, we stand close to those who are constantly under threat and governmental brutality.

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