Bahraini Telecom's Ad Depicts Torture Chambers
2015-09-28 - 11:44 p
Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): A video ad by VIVA shown in movie theatres in Bahrain depicted an aspect of the torture practiced by regime forces who according to reports continue to practice acts of torture in Bahraini prisons to date.
As the video ad aims at informing the viewers in a humorous way about VIVA's new online service for purchasing movie theatre tickets, this torture scene (unintentionally) revealed a deep awareness of the widespread practice of torture by security bodies, showing as if torture is something familiar to the Bahraini culture and national consciousness.
This ad is being run in the advertising segment which comes prior to every movie showtime in Bahrain. VIVA has seven movie theatres in the island kingdom which are located in Seef, City Center, Saar and Muharraq malls and two others in the Bahraini capital Manama.
The video ad was launched as well on the company's YouTube channel on September 4th 2015.
The scene shows three Bahrainis; one playing the role of the accused and two others representing a bodyguard and a detective. The scene begins with the suspect's heavy breathing while the detective enters a gloomy torture room with a cigarette in his hand.
It wasn't clear what the objects in the room were but some odd tools and devices were shown (including car parts and devices and a lathe). Observers said that it's either a distraction or a cautious attempt to camouflage the types of tools and devices used for torture.
While the accused was tied up on a chair in an awful condition as bruises were shown on his face and he seemed to be frightened and in panic, the detective began interrogating him very harshly, trying to find any contradictions or lies in his answers. The detective asks: "Where were you at 10 o'clock? The suspect replies: "I told you at the cinema," implying that the detective asked him the same question repeatedly as during an interrogation.
The detective yells in his face calling him a liar, and then the bodyguard cracks his knuckles, signaling that he is ready to follow orders to torture him. Thus, the accused cries in a sarcastic way and tries to back his answer by confirming that he is always alone.
The detective approaches the accused, stands behind him and puts his hands on his shoulders to make the suspect panic even more, and then he pushes his head forward asking him more details.
The last question is the main idea and purpose of the whole video ad. The detective asks: "My sources state that you didn't stand in line to buy your ticket. How did you get in?," in an attempt to accuse him of lying, but the suspect answers by saying: "online".
The scene doesn't end by highlighting the detective's stupidity and the oppression the suspect experienced, but it rather shows the detective eating popcorn and ordering the accused to book two tickets online and even pay for them, in order to highlight how great this new service is.
VIVA exclusively offers this service. It is a branch of the Saudi telecom company STC and the third mobile network operator in Bahrain and has gained a huge share in the market with its massive offers.
A private production company produces VIVA's advertising pieces and it seems that neither companies intended to excite any political aspects by the video ad, which was widely received as it gained over 41,000 views on YouTube and most of the comments on the video was positive and expressing admiration at the clip's humor.
However, it is unknown how moviegoers, who represent different factions of the Bahraini population, reacted to the clip, especially foreigners, who were acknowledged by the video since there were english subtitles.
Nonetheless, there are many interpretations of the motives behind this kind of material. However, in a place like Bahrain, it would be difficult to avoid the frightening reality that the country is experiencing, as the authorities are torturing thousands of Shiite dissenters in prison since 2011.
The scene in the clip seemed even more realistic since it is taking place in Bahrain, the actors are Bahrainis and they are using a local Bahraini accent.
An independent investigation by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), ordered by Bahrain's King, has proven many detainees were subjected to torture and other forms of physical and psychological abuse by government agencies while in custody, which in some cases was aimed at extracting confessions and statements under duress, while in other cases was intended for the purpose of retribution and punishment of thousands of political prisoners, since the brutal crackdown was launched against the predominantly Shiite-led opposition in March 2011.
The BICI report stated that the most common techniques for mistreatment used on detainees included the following: blindfolding; handcuffing; enforced standing for prolonged periods; beating; punching; hitting the detainee with rubber hoses (including on the soles of feet), cables, whips, metal, wooden planks or other objects; electrocution; sleep-deprivation; exposure to extreme temperatures; verbal abuse; threats of rape; and insulting the detainee‘s religious sect (Shia).
The BICI also said that the extent of this physical and psychological mistreatment is evidence of a deliberate practice against "certain categories of detainees," which are the Shiite political prisoners.
Despite all the promises announced by the king to deal with all the atrocities mentioned in the report and punish those responsible of these crimes, international organizations confirm that torture is still being practiced in Bahraini police stations, and prisons, no one has been held accountable for these crimes yet and all the sentences issued by Bahraini courts were based on confessions extracted under duress.
Instead of releasing the detainees, especially activists whose stories of torture became well-known, the Bahraini courts are sentencing the majority to prison and has imprisoned some of them who have been released, including a doctor, whom the authorities forced to eat his own feces!
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