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Bahrain Released political activist Najah Yusuf calls for Bahrain ‘to end its systematic abuse against its own citizens’

RECENTLY released Bahraini activist Najah Yusuf has demanded her government end the “systematic abuse against its own citizens” as the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) called for her to be compensated for the violation of her human rights.

Ms Yusuf had criticised government and objected to the Bahrain Grand Prix in a series of social media posts, which were deemed as “promoting and encouraging people to overthrow the political and social systems.”

She was then arrested in April 2017, which WGAD declared Yusuf’s summoning to the Muharraq Security Complex by the National Security Agency as arbitrary today and were keen to stress in their findings that “no trial of Ms Yusuf should have taken place.”

Along with the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) and Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), the WGAD have called on Bahrain to compensate Ms Yusuf for her time spent incarcerated.

On her release, Ms Yusuf made it clear that while she is “glad” to see the UN recognise what she went through, there are still others in the same predicament she was in.

“I am glad to see that the UN has acknowledged my suffering and recognised the injustice of my imprisonment,” said Yusuf. “However, there are still many political prisoners in Bahrain who have endured similar mistreatment, including my former cellmates Hajer and Medina. 

“What happened to me is unfortunately just one case among many, and these other cases cannot not be forgotten. The international community must call on the government of Bahrain to end its systematic abuse against its own citizens.”

Ms Yusuf was tortured and raped during her interrogation in 2017 and then forced to sign a confession.

She then found herself in front of an uncaring judge who sentenced her to three years in prison.

However, she was was pardoned and released with 104 other individuals, as part of a royal practice to mark Eid AlAdha on August 10 2019.

WGAD’s statement summarised that: “The source submits, and the government has not contested, that Ms Yusuf endured daily interrogation and torture — including beatings, rape, sexual assault, and threats of her son being killed — by agents of the National Security Agency, without legal representation and in spite of her protests, for five days between April 23 and 27 2017. 

“Given its finding that Ms Yusuf’s deprivation of liberty is arbitrary under category II, the Working Group wishes to emphasise that no trial of Ms Yusuf should have taken place.

“The Working Group cannot fail to express its gravest concern at the allegations of torture and ill-treatment described above, for the purpose of extracting her confession…

“The Working Group considers that … the appropriate remedy would be to … accord her an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations, in accordance with international law.”

Director of Advocacy at BIRD Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei added: “For too long, Formula One have relied on Bahrain’s false assurances to distance themselves from Najah’s ordeal. 

“With today’s decision from the UN, Formula One can no longer shirk responsibility and must now ensure that Najah receives the compensation she deserves. 

“Their race in Bahrain continues to legitimise a regime which persecutes all dissenting voices and they should provide assurances that what happened to Najah will never be repeated. 

“If they are unable to guarantee the safety of peaceful protesters, they must consider cancelling the race; a failure to do so means further complicity in Bahrain’s repression.”

“Najah’s case is exemplary of the way that Bahrain treats anyone who dares to speak out about injustice or rights violations in Bahrain,” said Husain Abdulla, Executive Director of ADHRB. 

“There are thousands of other prisoners in Bahrain who are languishing in cells for no reason other than having the audacity to call for reform. This is something that the international community needs to remember — particularly as Bahrain currently enjoys a seat on the Human Rights Council.”

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