An interview with Nasser Al Raas: My heart was broken by the screams of the martyr Fakhrawi, won by the Pearl Roundabout and crushed by electric shocks
2015-03-15 - 5:01 ص
Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive):
My heart has rebelled against me
I am a lover with bad luck
A narcissus is for me and another is against me
I pass by the love coast and quickly greet it
And write on the pigeons' wings
Letters from me to myself
Doctors at Ottawa Heart Institute-Canada told the youth Nasser Al Raas a week ago that he has a weak heart and he has to use a wheelchair and a nasal cannula and that he should be ready to undergo a heart transplantation surgery once a heart is available.
His heart has rebelled against him, it has become weaker than helping Nasser to move more than 100 meters. However, his heart is in its full force when he talks about his love for Bahrain. Doctors in Canada were confused while trying to recognize Al Raas's heart deterioration until they finally figured out that it was caused by torturing through electric shocks.
The 32-year-old Nasser Al Raas is a Kuwaiti with a Canadian passport. He lives now in Ottawa with his Bahraini wife and son. His crime is that he sympathized with the Bahrainis, thus he entered it on 7th March 2011 as an advocate and left it on 26th February 2012 being afraid, wanted, sick and tortured. Nasser did not forget to take from Bahrain what would stay with him; a Bahraini lady whom he married. This Bahraini lady left with Nasser and gave birth to his beautiful son, Hassan.
Nasser says to Bahrain Mirror: I was in Kuwait when 14th of February uprising erupted in Bahrain. I strongly interacted with the uprising that demanded freedom for all of us in this region. I enteredBahrain on 7th March, and directly headed towards the Lulu Roundabout where I stayed until the last day. Those days were and will always be the greatest days I have ever witnessed. They are not erased neither from my heart nor my memory. My soul has resided there and it is still there. I witnessed fierce battles fought by this great people. I mourned his martyrs one after another and I still mourn them.
Nasser went to the media persons tent in the Roundabout where he played a key role for his IT experience. He engaged in the case until the day the King of Bahrain declared the state of emergency and everything changed since then.
Nasser says that they were black days. They were the worst that any people could witness; a violation that, I believe, no people have ever experienced. We saw the bulldozers demolishing mosques and martyrs falling one after another.
How were you arrested? Nasser answers smiling, "I knew I had become wanted to the airport's national security agency in Bahrain. I was trying to leave Bahrain and the surprise was that I was arrested from the airport. It was not so long that I knew I was charged in participating in kidnapping a policeman, a case which is known as "Hozman".
"I was arrested and taken to an underground room under the national security agency building where death was in the rooms of investigation and torturing. I am not kidding. My heart was torn while listening to the martyr Abdul Kareem Fakhrawi being tortured in the prison cell next to mine. His cries...Oh Allah..Oh Allah.. still echo in my ears. Suddenly, the voice stopped. After a few minutes I felt an unusual movement and a great confusion. It
wasn't long until I discovered that Fakhrawi was killed in an unprecedented hatred," Nasser continues.
He remains silent for few minutes and cries silently. He sheds tears and wipes them with his hand adding, "What do I say about the national security agency and its underground tunnels."
We ask him then to talk about his sufferings in the underground rooms. Nasser starts recalling, "I will never forget my story with the solitary confinement for its cruelty and effects that I still suffer from. I was imprisoned in the castle's prison affiliated to the national security agency. You can't imagine the solitary confinement unless you've been through this bad experience. I was all the time in pure confinement and could not distinguish between day and night. I could not know the time or see the prisoners. I was forced to wear a blindfold during most of the investigation and torturing periods."
"Besides physical torture including hitting by plastic hose, electric shocks and various types of torture, the bitterness of this experience mixes with a psychological aspect. I felt that my end is inevitable rather than close. There was a focused lightning in my prison cell all the time with a thin plastic cover on the ground to remove the torture signs. The place was well equipped for torturing with a monstrous professionality. The sound of the door being strongly slammed made us startle," Nasser adds.
He proceeds, "I, along with others, was forced to hear the voices of those being subjected to indescribable torture. I recalled all the people I have known in my life. I started matching the victims voices to the people I know. Sometimes I resorted to crying and du'aa perhaps they make this nightmare ends. However, this procedure was repeated with others when I was subjected to torture, thus, the pain is repeated all over again until the victim reaches a state of imbalance and despair of life. Due to this psychological torture, I thought sometimes of ending my life if only I was able to do so."
He stops talking for a while and then tells, "Besides the psychological torture, we were tortured in special rooms. Sometimes we were wildly tortured in the same solitary confinement room. We did not know who opened the cell's door and attacked us in a brutal way. We were in dark."
Nasser smiles, "Do you know that at some moments of savage torturing against me, I secretly laughed." How? Nasser answers, "When the headsman was torturing me in a savage way and in hatred, I reached a phase were I laughed inside because I felt satisfied, for I was with this people and experiencing his pains. I felt satisfied being supportive for the great mother; the martyr Ali Mushaima's mother who completely influenced me. I thought about her while I was in my prison cell. This great mother whom I talked to in the Lulu Roundabout and who gave me some strawberries. When she knew I was a foreigner, she invited me to sleep in her son's, the martyr Ali Mushaima, bed and said, "Come sleep in my son's, the martyr, bed." I will never forget this woman."
31 days later, in April, Nasser Al Raas was released to wait for his trial in the military courts. Nasser who acquired his Canadian nationality in 2000, four years after arriving to Canada discloses, "I am already sick, I have an enlarged heart. I suffered from pulmonary embolisms. I did not take my medicines since I was arrested. After I was released I had no ID, for the national security agency had confiscated my passport and all my identity papers. Thus, I become like a refugee in Bahrain. I was not able to enter any hospital for I had no identity papers; besides, my movement was limited due to terrible security situation. A group from Doctors without Borders organization had provided me with medicine for a limited time before the regime could find their location and exile them."
Al Raas was called for summons to attend as an accused before the military court formed by the military governor at that time, Marshal Khalifa bin Ahmed and his military board that constitutes from Al Bandar Cell leader, the minister Ahmed Atitallah..
Nasser recounts that phase, "I used to appear before the military court and state to the activists what the figures told me about their conditions and the hitting they were subjected to. I remembered that they brought once the ex-MP Jawad Fairouz, who was arrested at the time, to the military court. Jawad was waiting for the judge to allow him to enter and the weather was too hot. The officers forced him to sit on hot iron heated by the sun. Once more, Mustafa Al Moqdad was forced to sit under the burning heat of the sunwhile his father AbdulJalil Al Moqdad looked at him from behind dark glass in the opposite room."
What happened next? Al Raas answers, "The military court acquitted me from Hozman kidnapping charge, but the national security agency did not leave me alone. I was surprised that I was charged with another case which was fabricated before the criminal courts. The judge who was trying us put a poster for PM Khalifa bin Salman on the door of his room. What justice were we waiting for?"
What was the charge? "Assembling and disseminating false news through the media center in the Roundabout being an IT expert. I was sentenced to five years in prison, however, I did not turn myself in and I disappeared for five months. The case was transferred later on to the court of appeals where the judge Ibrahim Al Zayed presided the sessions. I attended the sessions and the Canadian consulate did too.
The lawyer Mr. Mohsin Al Alawi pleaded and demanded setting me free. The judge then asked me to talk if I had anything to say, so I told him that I am a Canadian and I want my passport adding that it is not your right to take it. The judge suddenly adjourned the session. Few minutes later, the policemen entered the court room, arrested me, handcuffed me, and transferred me to prison number one in Jau central prison where an officer told me that I was sentenced to 25 years in prison. I told him that I was sentenced to five years and the officer replied: "No, you are sentenced to 25 years." They put me in the long-term verdicts cell where I saw the head of the Bahrain Teachers Association, Mahdi Abudeeb, whose verdict had not yet been reduced. I shared the same prison cell with Abudeeb; I slept on the upper bed and he slept in the lower bed. I remembered he used to groan at night due to the torture he was subjected to. I tried to massage his feet perhaps it eases his pain. I saw Shaikh Mohammed Ali Al Mahfoodh there. He was in a nearby cell. I also knew that two of those placed in the solitary confinement were sentenced to death; one of them was the arrested Ali Al Taweel.
Nasser expresses, "I did not spend much time in Jau prison, for I was released on 2nd June 2012. I was set free. I gave my testimony to Bassiouni committee regarding the death of the martyr Fakhrawi as a result of torture. I started trying to leave Bahrain. I should have left Bahrain earlier and I was worried about my health deterioration."
"I was late in leaving Bahrain even after Canada had provided me with a new passport. There were pressures from Amnesty International organization, Canada branch. The Canadian government committed to a quiet diplomacy with that of Bahrain, perhaps that was one of the reasons that delayed my departure. The Bahraini government did not give me my passport, thus Canada issued me a new one through which I left Bahrain on 26th February 2012," he further states.
What do you do now in Canada? Nasser answers quietly, "Despite of my health condition, I am pursuing my studies in Carlton University to acquire two bachelor's degrees in Human Rights and law at a time. My wife is also studying in the university. She is my life partner. Despite everything, I am still strong and I did not get weak."
Nasser continues, "I can't guarantee my life, yet I am not afraid. All what I wish if I die is to leave a trace." He sighs, "I wish to end this oppression I witnessed in Bahrain."
"The doctor told me that he had only decided to transplant me a heart after my life had become in danger. My heart has become in danger and so has my life. I can't walk for more than 100 meters because my heart is weak. Thus, doctors asked me not to exert any effort, to use a wheel chair and permanent nasal cannula," he proclaims.
Nasser smiles saying, "My son Hassan completed his first year three years ago. I am thinking about my small family situation and I am still thinking about Bahrain."
Do you still think about Bahrain despite all what happened? Nasser answers, "I daily follow Bahrain's situation. I lived in Bahrain and loved its people. Sometimes I wake up and open twitter to see what is happening there. I basically follow Bahrain Mirror, Nabeel Rajab account and the countries' accounts, in particular, Al Diraz where I lived in and saw its people steadfastness and saw their goodness."
Nasser Al Raas ends his interview with Bahrain Mirror saying that, "I will not be weak. Those who tortured and oppressed me will never see my weakness. I am strong with the presence of the people around me. Thanks to you, I am strong. Bahrain will prevail and get out of its calamity".
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