Religion Harms

Detained poet ‘beaten across the face with electric cable’

Ayat gave herself up to police after they threatened to kill her brothers. She was taken away in a car with two security officials – a man and a woman – both of whom were masked and dressed in civilian clothes. They immediately started to beat her and threaten her, saying she would be raped and sexually assaulted with degrading photographs of her put on the internet.

“When she reached the interrogation centre in Manama she was put in the very small cell and kept there for nine days,” her mother said. “The beatings with electric cable made her lips swell up.” At times, Ayat thought the air conditioning in the cell was emitting some form of gas, which made her feel she was suffocating. Throughout this period the police made no real attempt to interrogate her.

Her family say the days after Ayat was taken away was a period of intense psychological torture. “We knew nothing about what had happened to her though we heard rumours that she had been raped or killed,” her brother Yousif Mohammed said.

Her mother went from police station to police station asking for news of Ayat, but learned nothing. Sa’ada was finally told by the police that she should file a missing persons report, though she complained that this was absurd since it was the police who had detained her daughter.

And in a sinister development, pictures of Ayat began to turn up on dating and pornographic websites. This may relate to the threats made by police when she was first arrested that shameful photographs of her would be posted online.

After nine days, Ayat was moved to Isa prison and, 15 days after she was first taken away, she was allowed to make a phone call to her parents telling them that she was alive. The physical torture stopped, but she was kept under psychological pressure.

“At some point,” her mother says, “she was forced to sign a document but she was blindfolded and did not know what it said.”

She was told to clean up other cells and the corridor of the bloc she was in but was allowed no contact with other prisoners. On several occasions she was taken back to the interrogation centre where she had first been held and a video was taken of her giving her name and saying that she was a Shia and she hated Sunnis.

I wish I had the vocabulary to truly express how horrific and insane religion is.

All I can do is keep compiling these stories and let them speak for themselves.

I truly hope that this woman will be alright in the end, but the odds are not good.

All of the “Religion Harms” posts in one place.

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