On Sidelines of Isolation Prisoners’ Strike: This is What Prominent HR Activist Nabeel Rajab Said about his Experience in Isolation Prison

2019-08-28 - 11:17 p

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): In an interview with Bahrain Mirror following his release in 2014, prominent human rights activist Nabeel Rajab spoke about his two-year prison experience and explained that the most difficult thing he faced during this time was the isolation prison. At that time (the first arrest in 2012), it wasn't possible to torture the internationally-known human rights activist, especially that he was arrested about one year following the 2011 events and after the issuance of the BICI report. Thus, the authorities resorted to another way in an attempt to break his will. They isolated Nabeel from the prisoners and from the outside world. Avoiding holding him in solitary confinement, fearing scrutiny by human rights groups, they resorted to another form of punishment. They imprisoned him with foreign prisoners, leaving him unable to have any intellectual communication with them or hold any dialogue meaningful to Nabeel.

Nabeel didn't want to talk at that time about his fellow inmates or refer to the nature of their charges, since he sees this is a violation of their humanity, no matter how different they may be intellectually, socially and behaviorally, especially since he has formed good human relations with everyone. However, he continued to feel oppressed throughout his imprisonment and that he is being deliberately subjected to mentally abuse.

"Other political prisoners who were placed in the same cells feel harmony with each other. They have the same topics, concerns, problems and issues and they exchange news," Rajab said. "The newly imprisoned in the same cell tell the rest about the latest developments and news outside prison. Families call their sons, visit them and tell them what is happening. Everyone shares the news and remain updated. They play football and sports with each other and have discussions. This wasn't available to me. I was alone at first with Chinese prisoners and then Bengali prisoners. They always put foreign prisoners with me who don't even speak English, and put a Bahraini or two with me for cover up. The prisoners brought to my cell are chosen in a way that there would be no chance for making a connection with them and the outside world based on their charges and background."

"I knew that the target was my mind. They wanted to cause me mental illness. They were aiming to make me lose my ability to think, hold dialogues and discussions and even talk," he said, adding that "the intellectual isolation is a slow form of killing. Indeed, in the last two days, right after I got out of prison, I felt unable to speak, I couldn't choose the right words, neither in Arabic nor in English during interviews and meetings. I am now gradually regaining my aptitude of expression."

"At first I was afraid to die of anger and oppression, but after I realized the goal was to strike my mind, I decided to muster all my energy to thwart this goal. I decided to keep my senses and my mind alert, to use my mind to strengthen myself to face this isolation. Indeed, I was able to control myself and didn't surrender to isolation. I turned the equation, to the extent that I even became able to manage without blood pressure medication in prison, and it seems that I'm going to retake them now that I'm out," he said laughing.

The question is: Do the prisoners who are being isolated have the same endurance that Nabeel Rajab had to confront the attempts to break him at the time? How is Rajab's prison condition now? Is he still being subjected to isolation?

Arabic Version