By Vienna Maglio and Sidahmed Tfeil

The recent death of a Bahraini detainee who suffered from sickle cell anemia has put a spotlight on the treatment of the Gulf country’s prisoners, an issue which Bahraini human rights monitors have long voiced concern. Twenty-three-year-old Mohammed Jaffar Aldurazi and his brother were arrested on December 30, 2013, in an operation that authorities claim broke up a plot to transport weapons and explosives at sea. The man’s family contends Jaffar was tortured in prison, and that his death in late February was a caused by a serious delay in medical attention. They have been joined by other Bahraini activists in using YouTube and social media to bring awareness to his death, which has resulted in local protests and international coverage. The video above shows Jaffar’s mother joined by supporters at her just days after his death.

Disregard for Prisoner Rights  

While authorities attribute the death to Jaffar’s illness, during a family visit he had reported being subjected to torture, including “severe beatings with bare hands as well as with plastic hoses, kicking, electric shocks, forced to stand for long hours, stripped naked, threatened with sexual assault, and put in the “freezer” …after having cold water poured on him.” In the following video, Ali Al Kassab, who states he was in detention with Jaffar before being released, explains why Jaffar did not receive medical attention sooner.

Al Kassab states that beatings by prison guards left Jaffar with visible scars, bruises and marks all over his body. Guards avoided taking him to a hospital until the signs of torture became too small to see.

According to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), four prisoners died in custody in the past three months. While the government publicly denounces the use of torture during arrests and in detention, the BCHR reports that torture of detainees is systematic and widespread, and that the government has done little to investigate allegations of abuse behind bars. For more videos about the death of Mohammed Jaffar Aldurazi, see this playlist on the Human Rights Channel.

Image from video uploaded by YouTube user RevolutionBahrainMC.

Vienna holds a M.A. in International Relations from The New School for Public Engagement. You can connect with her on Twitter @MaglioVienna. 

Sidahmed Tfeil is a journalist specializing in Western Sahara and North Africa. You can follow him on Twitter @SidahmedTfeil. 

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