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Bahrain's abuse of dissenters: four detailed cases

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Interviews and email exchanges with relatives of four of the jailed politicians yielded startlingly similar stories of dramatic and humiliating middle-of-the-night raids by 30 to 40 masked gunmen, followed by weeks of beatings and abuse in custody. None of the men has been charged with a crime.

The police often directed anti-Shiite slurs at the distraught families. There were neither warrants nor judicial procedures, and the arrested politicians were held in solitary confinement without access to family or lawyers.

Jawad Fairooz had a simple request for his captors as he descended the stairs to meet them from the upper floor of his well-appointed home. "Can I change my clothes?" he asked. It was out of the question.

His wife lost her composure. "Stop screaming or we'll take your kid," they responded, referring to her 17-year-old son, Amin.

"Where are you taking him?" she asked, referring to her husband. "We're going on a 'picnic,' " was the cynical reply. For how long? She asked. "It depends on how fast he cooperates."

Exactly what happened after his arrest is known only to his captors and to Fairooz, who hasn't been able to communicate with his family. All they know is that he wound up in Bahrain's military hospital at 10 the next morning.

"People who saw him said that he was in bad shape," said a close relative, who couldn't be further identified for his own safety.

On May 18, a military prosecutor questioned Fairooz, according to his attorney, Abdullah al Shamdawi, but Shamdawi was prevented from attending the session and had no contact with Fairooz.

Detainees tortured and killed

Mattar Ebrahim Mattar, who also resigned in protest from parliament in February, was seized within minutes of Fairooz.

Mattar's family calls it a kidnapping, and that would be an apt description – if it weren't for the government's involvement.

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