DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Mohammed Hassan Jawad was missing his car — he'd left it at Pearl Roundabout in Manama, Bahrain, during anti-government protests in mid-March — so he did the logical thing: He visited the Bahrain police to inquire where they'd taken it when crews demolished the intersection.
That was the last his family heard of him for 45 days, until his name and photo flashed across government television. He was about to go on trial for taking part in a conspiracy to topple the Bahraini monarchy.
The arrest of Jawad, a human rights activist who's campaigned on his own for the rights of detainees and prisoners but isn't affiliated with any major political group, illustrates the arbitrariness of the judicial process that the Sunni Muslim minority regime has introduced under martial law.
Along with Ebrahim Sharif and Hassan Mushaima, Jawad, who's 64, was charged May 16 with "conspiring to topple the regime forcibly and collaborating with a terrorist organization working for a foreign country," according to the government-run Bahrain News Agency.
Jawad had been arrested once before, last December, when he took part in a demonstration demanding the release of political prisoners — and promptly got thrown in jail. Under the pressure of human rights organizations, he was released in January, according to a member of his family. He, along with tens of thousands of others, took part in the anti-government demonstrations that began Feb. 14. That seems to be the basis of the charges.
Family members were able to talk with him at his first court appearance, and they think he suffered abuse bordering on torture while in solitary confinement. They learned that he'd been hung by his hands for three weeks and subjected to electric shocks. He had pains in his pelvis and was missing teeth. His legs were swollen, he was covered in scrapes and he looked terrible, they said.
A family member pleaded with McClatchy to publicize his case, writing in an email: "In this cruel situation we are going through, you are the only hope for us, to deliver our sounds and screams, our pains and suffering, to the world."
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