Booths of Humiliation: About the Visits of Prisoners Families

2018-01-17 - 7:58 p

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): Humiliation is not only practiced against political prisoners in Bahrain, it is also the treatment that families of prisoners receive during visits.

When women enter the security searching room at Dry Dock Prison, the policewomen spray air fresheners and burn incense, hinting that the women entering the room have bad body odors. A policewoman asks the mother of one of the detainees while searching her with gloves on, are you carrying anything? And then answers herself while opening the woman's gown (Abaya): You will not find anything but sweaty clothes.

What makes the situation reach this point?

At Dry Dock Prison, families wait under the scorching sun to get an appointment for the next visit. One or two policewomen sit inside an air-conditioned booth that has two windows sealed with steel rods except for a small opening, through which the families hand in their IDs to schedule the next appointment for visiting their detained family members. The families stand in a queue in the extreme heat. Sweat is all what you can see dripping on their faces and their features that cannot hide their feelings of humiliation and anger.

Sometimes, you may arrive and find no one in the booth, and because you have no other choice but to wait to take an appointment for the next visit, you'll stand in your place under the heat of the sun. You will wait in a queue that will get longer and longer, until someone decides to show up to the booth. When the time of your visit comes before anyone arrives to the booth, you will have to go and return and have to wait in an even longer queue to schedule the next visit.

After you schedule an appointment, you will go to another booth to put deposits of cash, clothes, books or other items. A while ago, the families of prisoners were allowed to enter the air-conditioned booths to hand over the deposits. As soon as the families entered the place after a long wait, they released sighs of relief, pleased that they could now protect themselves from the sun. However, it seems that this upset the prison administration that strives to humiliate the families of prisoners rather than make it easier for them.

A new booth was set up with a side window facing the sun. Families are allowed to enter the booth only for handing in clothes and other items because they have to pass through a screening machine and then they are required to leave, head to the outside window to put the cash deposits and then wait in an another line. Families have to stand in silence because they know that any sign of protest would be at the expense of the visit, or perhaps lead to even more consequences.

After you finish, you will enter a waiting cabin. As soon as the prison's gate opens, the families stand in another queue under the sun to have their IDs checked and then head to the searching checkpoint. At this point, the families will be exhausted and in a very bad condition. This is the state the prisoners see their families and children in.

In the waiting cabin, one of the mothers complains about the new window outside the booth. A prisoner's mother tells a policewoman: "You find that it is too much for us to stand and wait in an air-conditioned room so you make us stand under the sun!" She further stresses: "They think they will break or humiliate us. They want to insult us. No matter what they do, they will not be able to break us. They will only make us stronger and more determined."

The mother of another detainee replies: "Lady Zainab taught us patience and pride. We accept and see anything under God's sight as beautiful. This is our way and this is what we were taught. We shall never fail Lady Zainab."

Arabic Version

: Bahrain Mirror