Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): During the first week of May 2011 and before the first hearing of the military trial, families of the detained Bahraini leaders received phone calls from the Bahraini security authorities, asking them to quickly send clean and ironed clothes for the prisoners.
They demanded a thawb, agal, kufiya (Arabs traditional clothes) and slippers from some, while demanding suits for others. No one knew why? Some families were late, so they called them again asking them to hurry up! The clothes were delivered at the main door of the Al-Qalaa building, the headquarters of the Ministry of Interior (the headquarters of the National Security Service-Intelligence-).
The inmates were taken into custody at the dawn of March 2011, while they were in their sleepwear that remained bloodstained for 10 days. Water did not touch their bodies except when masked members from the Military Al-Qarin Prison poured cold water on them inside their prison cells. That day of May was one of the few days when prisoners saw the way to the restroom and shave their beards! It was even one of the prisoners first day to be allowed to take a shower.
The authorities gave each prisoner his clean piece of clothing to wear and then transferred them, separately, and on different times, to unknown destinations. They told the prisoners that they will meet the King's delegate, Sheikh Saqr Al Khalifa. After the first trial hearing, they were transferred to meet the royal delegate for the last time.
That day is embedded in their memories. All the prisoners shared the same beginning; however, their ends differed somehow.
In a luxurious office and on a round table, Sheikh Saqr met the seven prisoners. Behind him was a "TV" video camera, it was revealed that it belongs to the Saudi-funded Al-Arabiya channel.
"Their situation was exactly like that of the country; their bodies covered with torture marks and over which they wore clean suits," says one of the prisoner's daughters.
However, the Al-Arabiya camera did not record the incidents that took place in the room next to Sheikh Saqr's office.
Mushaima' before Filming: They Pulled me from my Beard
Hassan Mushaima (68 years old), one of the most prominent figures of the February 14 uprising as well as the 1990s uprising and a former vice president of Al-Wefaq society and leader of Haq Movement for Liberty and Democracy that embraced liberals and Sunni dissenters, was taken to meeting fully dressed, blindfolded and handcuffed. "I was taken to a place that I didn't know. I was told there that someone named "Sheikh Saqr" from the ruling family came from the royal court to listen to my opinion and report it to the king."
"On the way back and forth, I was insulted. They insulted me, my sect and scholars. One kept on telling me in a sarcastic way: Your daughter is beautiful...Can I have a Mut'ah (temporary) marriage with her?"
On the round table, Mushaima' talked to Sheikh Saqr and told him about the incidents, while the camera was behind Saqr. At the end of the conversation, Sheikh Saqr suggested that Mushaima' apologizes publicly while being filmed. However, Mushaima' refused. Thus, Sheikh Saqr insisted by saying: "We will summon you again!"
Indeed, after the trial hearing, Mushaima' was summoned again at about 3 a.m. He was taken handcuffed and blindfolded and when he met Sheikh Saqr, the later once more suggested that Mushaima' apologizes, but he refused. Mushaima' said: "A group of masked members started to harass me, pull my beard and threaten me." They told me "We will make you suffer tonight from the cancer you healed from."
And here, the Al-Arabiya camera started rolling.
Sheikh Mohammed Habib Al-Miqdad: The Sheikh Came!
"One night, a group of masked members came to my prison cell and as usual they handcuffed and blindfolded me. They took me out of the prison and transferred me via a car. They beat and threatened me while in the vehicle and violently handled me," says the Shiite cleric and preacher Sheikh Mohammed Habib Al-Miqdad (54 years old), who was previously arrested in 2010 and subjected to torture to confess that he heads a military cell that aims at toppling the regime.
Al-Miqdad was later released under the pressure of February 14 protests. He then played a key role in organizing and leading the uprising.
"They took me to a building, which I think is linked to the National Security Service and told me the "Sheikh" will come now. "If you don't cooperate with him, we will abuse you sexually and torture you until death," they said. "When the Sheikh came, they stopped beating and torturing me while saying: the Sheikh came, the Sheikh came," he added.
The "Sheikh" ordered them to untie the blindfold on Al-Miqdad. The "Sheikh" and Al-Miqdad sat on the same round table and started to talk about the roundabout, while the "Sheikh" was writing notes. He told me "I am delegate from the king's side. I have the honor to represent him. My name is Sheikh Saqr Al Khalifa. The king told me to ask you about the incidents that took place at the roundabout; he wants to hear the truth of the incidents from you in person not from the investigation case files."
The "Sheikh" asked and Al-Miqdad answered. The conversation lasted for several hours. During the session, Sheikh Saqr asked Al-Miqdad the same demand which is to "apologize to the king" and he thus "he will pardon you". Like Mushaima', Al-Miqdad refused to apologize. Sheikh Saqr was infuriated and "then masked members came to take revenge from me for not meeting the demands of Sheikh Saqr and then took me back to the prison after torturing me."
About two days later, Al-Miqdad was taken to that building "at that night, they severely pressured me; they tortured, hit and threatened me with sexually abuse before the meeting, in order to extract an apology for the king."
Abduljalil Al-Moqdad before Filming: They Stepped on my Head and Neck & Pulled my Pants Down
Abduljalil Al-Moqdad (57 years old), a prominent Shiite cleric and religious leader of Al-Wafa Islamic Party, describes what happened to him during his meeting with Sheikh Saqr.
Al-Moqdad was taken to Sheikh Saqr's office and, like others, didn't know why and when. He; however, thought that the meeting took place inside the building of the National Security Service (Intelligence). "As soon as I stepped in the car, they insulted, humiliated and abused me. When we reached the building, they made me sit on a bed and one of them told me that they will not beat me, but they will insult and hurt me until I hate myself. And so they did."
"At least five of them gathered around me and insulted me. They insulted my mother, wife, daughters, sect and scholars."
"One of them put his leg on my thigh and another one stood on my head and neck while moving his genitalia. A third one put his right hand on my shoulder leaning on me. A fourth one was trying to pull my pants down, while I was trying to prevent him with my eyes blindfolded. Some of them played a voice recording for Saddam Hussein claiming that Saddam is still alive and will eradicate Shiites..."
Abduljalil was exactly in the room next to Sheikh Saqr's office and Al-Arabiya camera!
"Then they let me meet that figure. I was told he is named Sheikh Saqr. He ordered them to take my blindfold off. He was sitting and ordered me to sit. A round table separated us."
Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja: I Knocked my Head against the Ground until I Fainted to Avoid the Camera
The familiar Bahraini human rights defender, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, talks about what happened to him in Sheikh Saqr's office or, more precisely, the room next to Saqr's office away from the Al-Arabiya camera, describing it as an "exceptional torture incident."
"At late night, I was taken by four members in a small vehicle to a building that is 15-20 minutes away. I sat there at a table. They uncuffed my hands and when they took off my blindfold, I found myself sitting at a luxurious table and in front of a youth wearing civilian clothing. He introduced himself as "Sheikh Saqr", the personal representative of Bahrain's king and said that he wants to hear directly from me about the incidents and charges brought forth against me."
"The interrogation lasted for about an hour and a half. At the end, he asked me whether I would like to be filmed by a television camera that was already set to apologize to the king. I told him that I did nothing to apologize for."
"Then they once again blindfolded me and took me to a near room. One of them told me that I am sitting on a bed and that they will not beat me, yet they will practice everything on me if I don't agree to record an apology."
"They really started doing so; one of them put his hand on my genitals and another moved his genitalia back and forth on my back and put his hand in my bottom. Then, they started to strip me of my clothes. I only had one choice; to escape them by knocking my head against the ground. I only regained my consciousness when I was in the car that was driving fast to the prison. I was returned to my prison cell while carried and with a swollen forehead. The left part of my face, the place of the splinted fractures, was also swollen."
Upon his arrest, Al-Khawaja underwent complicated surgery to get his jaw readjusted. He couldn't move his jaw after he sustained 4 fractures in his face. Surgeons had to use 40 screws to mend the fractures and wounds. Even after these surgeries, they continued to torture Al-Khawaja whose face has never returned to its previous state.
"They put bandages on me and gave me painkillers for three days. On the second day, the doctor who performed my operation visited me and saw my miserable situation. Thus, he asked them to transfer me in order to have an x-ray. They responded to the doctor after several days by bringing the x-ray machine to the hospital..."
Abduljalil Al-Singace: If I don't Meet the Sheikh's Demands!
Abduljalil Al-Singace (54 years old), the university professor and former member of the Al-Wefaq's board of directors and spokesperson of Haq Movement, was also taken to meet the "king's delegate".
"I was investigated in a private villa outside Al-Qarin prison (15-20 min away) in the car. I was blindfolded and my head was sacked at late night. Before going, I had my hair cut and left the prison in the appearance I looked before I was imprisoned."
Four masked members received me at Al-Qarin's Prison gate with insults: "The journey of beatings on my head, face and legs began, in addition to the sexual harassment, and the insults made against my daughter and wife and the demeaning remarks against my sect."
"The investigation took place in two separate sessions. A youth in civilian clothes (thawb and kufiya) investigated me. He introduced himself as the king's personal representative. I knew from my other friends who were interrogated that he is called Sheikh Saqr Al Khalifa."
Similar to what he did to the others; Sheikh Saqr tried to force Al-Singace to apologize and ordered him to recite a prepared confession written on a screen. He totally refused: "I was threatened in the second session while I was on the ground, to be beaten and tortured if I don't respond to the "Sheikh".
Al-Singace stresses that his second session with Sheikh Saqr ended without presenting any apology. He added that he did not give any statement whatsoever.
Abdulwahab Hussein: Videotaped Address to the King on Dialogue Angered "Sheikh Saqr"
Abdulwahab Hussein (62 years old) was the first to take to the streets during the February 14, 2011 uprising and the main figure that mobilized and called for the downfall of the regime. He was the first defendant in the case of the revolution leaders. He was also the prominent figures of the 1990s uprising, one of the founders of Al-Wefaq Society, largest political opposition party, and then became the leader of Al-Wafa Islamic Party.
During his arrest on March 17, 2011, masked men took him at the door and began to slap, punch and kick him and then beat his head against the wall until blood poured out of his forehead. One of them continued to say: "If it wasn't for the orders, he wouldn't have come out of his house alive." That's how he spent his days in Al-Qarin Military Prison; either under the feet of torturers or forced to bow down and kiss their feet and hands, or kiss photos of the Bahraini and Saudi kings.
What revenge did the king take on him! The National Security Services officer (Bader Al-Ghayth) used to slap him and say with each slap: "This is on behalf of the king. This is on behalf of the Prime Minister. This is on behalf of the Defense Minister and this is on behalf of the Interior Minister..."
After more than 40 days, drenched in his own blood, the king's delegate was sent to Abdulwahab.
"A person named Sheikh Saqer bin Khalifa Al Khalifa met me there. He said he was the king's delegate who came to meet me and asked me to make an apology to be sent to the king ‘for my own good'. But I refused." I said: "I have done nothing wrong. The military prosecution had interrogated me and I am being tried before the military court," I told him. "However, I agreed with him to sent a videotaped message to the king about the dialogue."
At the first night following the second military trial hearing, Abdulwahab was taken to the same place and met with the same person, so as agreed, he began recording his message about the dialogue for the king.
"The aforementioned person asked me to repeat what I said while being videotaped again in order to send the statement to the military prosecution, yet I completely refused to do so and said that the military prosecution had already interrogated me and concluded the investigation, and I have stood before the military court. I reject any other investigation. Thus, he was infuriated and began to mistreat me," he added.
"On my way back to prison, the prison guards addressed me with curse words and insults to my mother, wife and daughters that I had never heard in my entire life. They repeated saying that they wanted to have pleasure with them since Muta'h (temporary marriage) is Halal according to Shia and said that most of the Shiites as sons of Muta'h. They further stated derogatory and insulting remarks against my faith, sect and religious figures (Marja's and Ahlulbayt Imams)"
Ebrahim Sharif: I was Told about the Meeting but It Never Happened
The Secretary-General of the National Democratic Action Society (Wa'ad), the only Sunni (secular) figure among detained opposition leaders, Ebrahim Sharif (59 years old), during that period was told by one of the masked men that a high-rank official wants to meet with him that night.
According to Sharif, the meeting did not take place, yet he found out that a number of prisoners including Al-Singace was taken to meet "the official," who claimed to be the king's delegate called "Saqr Khalifa".
For various reasons, the authorities refrained from airing any of those recordings. One of the most significant reasons is the investigator Sharif Bassiouni, head of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), himself, according to some sources, as the 14 figures refused to cooperate with Bassiouni unless he promised to prevent the authorities from airing these videos, and it seems that he succeeded in doing so, at least until last Saturday.
As part of a show entitled "February Box", the Saudi Al-Arabiya channel aired what seems to be exclusive recordings provided to it by the Bahraini intelligence. It; however, didn't show everything that was inside the box.
This is what happened on that day, when the Bahraini intelligence videotaped, in collaboration with Al-Arabiya channel and with the directions of the Royal Court, "confessions" and "apologies" made by a group of Bahraini opposition leaders. This is what took place on that day and that's what happened before and after filming. This is the real box and this is what is supposed to be a documentary.
After five years...The Saudi-owned TV channel only showed only one image, that of the tortured and helpless prisoners, and kept the image of Saqr Al Khalifa unveiled!
Who is Sheikh Saqr? Is he a high-rank intelligence official or military one? Is he actually a Royal Court representative, or a Saudi Royal Court delegate, or was he just a Arabiya channel reporter?
Saqr today is, as all of these figures, inside February Box.