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Sunday
Apr082012

Bahrain 1st-Hand: "She's Filth" --- Zainab Alkhawaja on Her Detention When She Called Out for Her Father


Zainab Alkhawaja, the daughter of detained hunger striker Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, has been writing about her detention last night --- her second in 48 hours --- as she stood outside the military hospital where her father is being held:

Last night we got a call from my father, he could barely talk and had a hard time breathing. When I heard my fathers condition is this bad, and know he was being harassed by staff & guards I went to try to see him again....I had little hope they would let me into the military hospital to see my father, but I had to try at least.

As I walked towards the hospital, police recognized me & shouted, "It's Alkhawaja's daughter, grab her!" I ran inside the hospital but did not know where my father was, I started calling him. I was thinking, even if they didn't let me see him I hope he at least hears me, & knows I'm here for him.

Three men grabbed me and pushed me to the ground, but I kept shouting for my father. People gathered & one of the men told me, "If you keep quiet we'll take you to see your father now." I said OK.

The minute I took a step outside the hospital they pushed me to the ground, & tied my hands together. They put me in a wheelchair & tied my legs to the wheelchair as well. I said, "You're not a man of your word." That's when they taped my mouth, & took me to a security room.

In the security room, a tall older man wearing traditional thoub came to "speak" to me. First he declared, "I am like your father & you are like my daughter, & we are ruled by a king of mercy." He then said, "In fact you can call me mercy. Tell me what you want. You want to see your father? I'll take you to him myself."

I asked him, "Is this how you usually talk to ur daughters, with them tied onto a wheelchair?"

He said, "You're a girl, that's why you have a small brain. Listen to me & learn & obey. If you don't, I'll pull you out of here like a sheep." He said, smiling, "Imagine your father's face when I tell him his daughter came today, & I dragged her on the ground like an animal."

He started shouting & banging his fist on the wheelchair I was in, told me I had to go for interrogations now. He called some security police & told them to go check if anyone filmed them dragging me. He said, "You know why we did this to you. We don't know who you are. How should we know you are his daughter? You could be an enemy, trying to harm Alkhawaja and we must protect him. That's why we attacked you."

I replied, "Your men yelled that it's Alkhawaja's daughter before they attacked me."

He continued, "In fact I still don't know who the hell you are. You could be anyone, how do I know you're Zainab?"

I said, "Why don't you Google my name if you are really this unsure?"

He replied, "I dont know this word, only word I know is...erm..Sketch."

Obviously this is one of the most absurd "conversations" I've ever had in my life. It ended when I said I won't leave without seeing my father, & he grabbed me from my clothes & pulled me to a car.

In the drive to the military headquarters, the same man brought with him a big rifle, which he pointed in my direction. In the military headquarters, they brought men with cameras to film me, one of them looked hestitant & very sad. He walked away. The same guy in the thoub called him & said, "Are you ashamed to take her pictures? She's filth, take as many as you want."

I was interrogated at the military prosector's. I refused to answer any questions without a lawyer. I also told the interrogator that "I refuse to leave with the man who brought me here".

When they realized the probably had to beat me to get me in the same car with him, they put me in a prisoner vehicle instead. It's like a cage, with padding, and pitch dark. So dark that even when they spoke to me, they couldn't see me. I realized this was probably the same kind of vehicle they transported my father in for his miltary trials.

A very kind policewoman brought me water & told me to sleep, and I did for a little while. Then I was taken to Riffa police station, where I was interrogated with but this time in the presence of my lawyer.

A question they asked me in the military prosecutor's is what made me realize what they were charging me with. "Did you REALLY tell a security personnel that he is NOT a man??!!" and they looked shocked at my crime too.

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