Thursday, 14 July 2011

Bahraini woman poet tells of torture while in custody

Published today in The Telegraph, by Richard Spencer

A young Bahraini woman who was arrested after reciting an anti-government poem to demonstrators in the Gulf kingdom said she was beaten, electrocuted and threatened with sexual assault while in custody.

Ayat al-Qurmezi, 20, became one of the symbols of the protests that hit the centre of the Bahraini capital, Manama in February and March. After she was arrested, reports circulated that she had been whipped and even at one point raped and killed, leading to an improvement in her conditions and her release on Wednesday evening.
Greeted by a crowd of hundreds of people at her home, she told her family she had not been sexually assault but threatened as well as being electrocuted with clips attached to her face.
She also denied that she had committed treason by attacking the king, saying she wanted reform not revolution. "The demand isn't to overthrow the regime, but we want a real constitutional monarchy," she said to reporters.
Miss al-Qurmezi, a member of the Shia majority who was at teacher training college when the protests began in February, was filmed reciting poems to a huge crowd at Pearl Roundabout, the epicentre of the demonstrations.
One featured a conversation between Satan and King Hamad in which they outlined the complaints of the opposition, mostly Shia calling for the Sunni royal family and elite to share power.

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