Since tearing down the national symbol of Pearl (Lulu) Monument a couple of weeks ago (see my previous post), the Bahraini government has been busy cracking down on the Shia community there, using its newly announced "emergency law" powers to arrest people and hold them without charges. The Bahraini government, a key U.S. ally, has locked up as many as 700 people.
Among those arrested, for no good reason, was a good friend of our family: Shubbar (prounounced SHOE-bar) Hameed Ebrahim (right), aged 35. Shubbar is a beloved husband to his wife and father to two adorable young boys (left). He has a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Kuwait University and an MBA from Bowling Green State University (2008) in Ohio, USA. Until Sunday night, he was working as a quality control engineer in Bahrain.
But at 11:30 pm on Sunday, April 3, masked security forces burst into his house. His wife, who also studied at Bowling Green, described the scene to me in an email:
I was in the sleeping room with my 4 year old son, S Ali, trying to put him to sleep as he has school next day, when I suddenly heard doors cracking and opened fiercely. I suddenly saw a man with a masked face, a pistol and a police stick asking me go out and take the baby out. Suddenly the house was full of these people. Most were huge and they messed up the whole house. They threw us all in the kitchen: my mum, my two sister, and two kids and me, and they took Shubbar. They were looking for my father [a leading opposition figure]. My mother went through a difficult collapse and we could not bring the ambulance since they are all accompanied with troops. One of the masked men told her you deserve to die, the world will be better without you. They broke our doors, stole 1000BD [$2,650 in cash] from one of our drawers, and some perfumes of Shubbar. They broke his glasses and they tore the tyres of our cars with knives: the total cost is also around 600-700BD [$1590-$1855]. They also stole more than 7 cell-phones.One man pulled me from my hair down the stairs and another began threatening, but we don't know where my father was. They just could not believe us. They began beating Shubbar in front of me, but I could not help because I don't know. After that, they handcuffed him, masked his face and dragged him to an unknown place after around [two hours of] of insults and violence. One of them told me, "I will fire your beloved from his work; you should die from hunger."
After seeing Shubbar taken away to that unknown destination around 1:30 am Monday morning, the family hasn't heard from him or the government.
His wife writes,
I called a lawyer today, but we are still looking for him. We are very scared because missing people are found dead somewhere and since there is no law or order in the country, the troops do anything and at anytime. My kids are going through a hard time, they feel scared all night and keep asking about their father. They are scared from any knock at the door at night because they lived a real nightmare.
Their father had committed no crime and hasn't been charged with anything. He is being punished or used as leverage to find his father-in-law, a leading Shia opposition figure in Bahrain.
During his and his wife's graduate school years in Ohio, our two families got together several times for meals and outings. We discovered that Shubbar is a gentle, quiet, caring man with a great love for his family. He is no political radical. He's an engineer, for heaven's sake!
Please help me spread the word to the media and to the US and Bahraini governments:
- This kind of arbitrary arrest is unacceptable and must be reversed. Shubbar and the many other unjustly detained prisoners like him should be freed immediately.
- This kind of arbitrary arrest violates Bahrain's pledges to uphold political rights. Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Bahrain has signed, says that
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law. (2) Anyone who is arrested shall be informed, at the time of arrest, of the reasons for his arrest and shall be promptly informed of any charges against him.
Although the Bahraini government will claim that its emergency law allows them to suspend this basic human right (under Article 4 of the ICCPR), the U.S. government should not accept the specious justification of a "public emergency."
- U.S. officials have called for a political dialogue between opposition forces and the government. The Secretary of State should immediately appoint a mediator to facilitate this dialogue.
Thanks for spreading the word and challenging this injustice!