Mr Younis Ashoori was not one of the 20 medics on trial. He is a hospital administrator that was sentenced to 3 years and was tortured and imprisoned for over 1 year. Doctors In Chains received this testimony from one of his colleagues:
“Mr. Younis Ashoori is a 60-year-old man. He works as an admistrator at Muharaq Maternity Hospital and Geriatric Services. He is a father to a 17 year old boy. He has only one son. His son is delightful and loveable and has faith in God that his father will be released soon.
Mr. Ashoori went to work on the 20th of March, although he had a severe tension headache and kidney stone pain that kept him awake all the night before. At 11:00AM he called his wife and informed her that he is coming home due to his severe pain. Once he reached home his boss called him and told him he must return to work immediately due to emergency need. As usual, he ran to work because he is so loyal to his job. The minute he stepped into the hospital he was blind folded, hand cuffed and arrested by the soldiers. There were 15 police cars. He was taken to an unknown place.
Although he was taken to Al-Hid police station, by an order from the Criminal Investigation Department, he was denied of being there once asked for by his family. The family were requested by the police at the Al-Hid station to report him missing. Mr. Ashoori was only allowed to call his family for the first time after 18 days. He had no idea where he was. His wife informed him that she will inform the human right societies about his situation. Mr. Ashoori begged her not to do so because he was promised that if he signed on some papers while being blind folded they would release him.
For those who do not know his wife, she is a very quite person, loves her husband and would not do anything without her husband’s approval. She asked him about his headache and whether he is taking any medicine while being arrested. He stated he is now, but it was forbidden for him to take his medicine whilst being under interrogation.
On the 18th of May he was presented to the military prosecution where he was insulted, psychologically and physically abused, and accused of deficiency at his work. Mr. Ashoori was shocked at the military court where he was accused of things he had not done and that he is a criminal in the eye of the law.
The story does not end there, one night, around 12:30AM while Mr. Ashoori’s son was out of the house, and his wife was sleeping alone at the house, suddenly she woke up to see 20 masked men in her room. She tried to cover her hair and body and asked them whothey were. No one answered and she repeatedly asked the same question on and on. Suddenly, one of them said ‘wear your hijab’ (hair cover) whilst they were looking at her with their masks on, her not knowing who they were and in fear of being raped at any time. They showed her Mr. Ashooris’ brothers’ picture thinking that this was his house. They searched the house and then they realized that they were in the wrong house. They removed their masks and asked Mrs. Ashoori to call her son to come into the house.
The only son of Mr. Ashoori did not answer the phone, but they tracked him and went and arrested him using their guns on this son just 17-years old. Then they detained him until they found Mr. Ashoori’s brother. During all this, in fear for her life and her son’s’life, Mrs. Ashoori asked them about her husband and they denied knowing him.
After two and a half months, a phone call was received from the police requesting clothes for Mr. Ashoori to attend the court in two days. A lawyer was contacted immediately to attend the court day without him having even seen the accused. That is where Mr. Ashoori saw his family for the first time since his arrest.
Mrs. Ashoori reported Mr. Ashoori’s case and his lost car to the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry without any result. After seven months the family received the lost car that was broken and paid fees to repair the car as well as late registration fees. This was hard as his family has now no source of inclome. Mr. Ashoori has not been paid since his arrest on 22nd of March 2011.
On the 29th of September, Mr. Younis Ashoori was transferred to ‘Jaw Jail’ where the family have to call and request a visit. They are allowed to see him twice a month. They were not allowed to see Mr. Younis Ashoori for Eid.
Is this fair? Had he done anything wrong? This is the way the medics are treated in Bahrain!”
Doctors In Chains also received this reply to the charges against him from Mr Younis Ashoori himself:
‘Reply to the Charges against Me:Younis Ghuloom Ali(Ashoori)
“The first charge against me is the acquisition of oxygen cylinders and delivering them to the Bahrain Financial Harbor in person.
14 March 2011 was the day of the two incidents of the Bahrain Financial Harbor and the University of Bahrain, when the administration at Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC) imposed the hospital disaster plan, or disaster preparedness, and my manager, Mrs. Wafa Essa, was there at the command center, where we were preoccupied throughout the entire day trying to meet the daily demands of the maternity hospital in Muharraq, which included supplying food, fabrics, pharmaceuticals, blood, bandages and other things that the hospital required. However, that was put out of action as the roads were blocked, and according to the disaster plan, all facilities within the Ministry of Health must be liable to orders and should meet the disaster plan’s needs without hesitance or delay as well as the requirements of senior officials at the ministry or SMC knowing that it is a ruling system.
In the meantime, the hospital’s security supervisor, Mr. Abdulmajeed al-Ekri, phoned me from outside the hospital telling me that there is an ambulance being sent from SMC requesting oxygen cylinders urgently for cases of suffocation. Accordingly, I immediately called my manager and she consented to it on condition that the ambulance coming from SMC is in accordance with the disaster plan. She added that this would not have a negative impact on our patients, as happened with her earlier this day when she was arranging for a spare hospital bed for the same purpose, i.e. suffocation cases. Then, I informed the acting nursing supervisor, Ms. Zahra, to coordinate with the rest of the wards to prepare for that, and to make certain of this, I witnessed the ambulance myself, wherein about 112 small-sized oxygen cylinders were placed in the ambulance without their accessories, like regulators, masks and a key needed to open these cylinders, meaning that these cylinders could not have been opened and used in places other than hospitals and health centers. I should also mention that I, myself, watched the ambulance as it was departing the hospital’s gate from my office’s window.
During my investigation, I was told that the ambulance made its way to the financial harbor in order to rescue those who were wounded and injured by tear gas, even though the only people responsible for the movement of ambulances include those in the command center, Mr. Mohamed Abdulrahim, the ambulance supervisor and all the stations and call centers, of which there are records of, but my duty lies within the borders of the Muharraq Maternity Hospital only.
Due to the sudden security measures taken with beginning of martial law and the pressures of work in that particular day, Mrs. Essa was not able to recall that specific phone call, given that this procedure and cooperation with the command center at SMC is one of my authorities as a manager since I worked as an active member at Muharraq Maternity Hospital’s disaster plan committee for 20 years, and certainly, the security staff at the hospital have the details and data regarding the ambulance and its driver. In addition, the same details are in the possession of the Directorate of Emergency Services, commonly known as 999, where no ambulance is allowed to move until the details are noted by the medics or the supervisor at the office of ambulance distribution.
The second charge against me is the replacement of images of our political leadership with those of religious symbols.
On 19 March 2011, at around 8 PM, the security supervisor on duty, Kamel al-Nawafdha, called me and notified me that there are troops from either the Ministry of Interior or the Ministry of Defense, who have entered some of the hospital’s wards and offices as well as the lounge room and took pictures. I then told him “this is their job and we don’t interfere in their work.” Moreover, I informed my manager of this, and on the next day, she told Dr. Amin al-Saati about it, as she had mentioned to me.
20 March 2011 was the day of my arrest in front of the hospital’s entrance by a huge group of masked and armed security officers. I was escorted from my car and was taken to an unknown place, all while I was blindfolded and handcuffed. All this occurred at around 11 AM. Afterwards, I was taken to the General Command of the Bahrain Defense Force and remained there for over two months under investigation, in which my accusation included the lack of pictures of our leadership in the wards, offices and other places in the hospital.
My response to these charges was that I was assigned to this job from 1 August 2010 and was preoccupied with new projects in addition to being appointed to end the feasibility study for the establishment of a maternity hospital for the people of Muharraq, in keeping with the letter from the Council of Ministers, which designated me to complete this urgent assignment.
After arresting me for over a month in the Bahrain Defense Force General Command, I signed a statement pointing out that I was falling short of my job and became unaware of the absence of pictures of our leadership. Additionally, I was promised by Colonel Abu Jabr with release once I signed the document, but he did not fulfill his promise, and after signing the statement, I was transferred to the Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID), where they changed the accusation to the presence of images of our leadership, but I replaced them with pictures of Shiite religious symbols. Furthermore, he did not allow me to read the new statement as I was blindfolded and he canceled the former statement and used the latter one instead.
After this, I was transferred to the Dry Dock Temporary Detainment Center, where I was taken to CID once more to deny the new accusation. Consequently, I signed the latest statement at the Military Prosecution under similar conditions, i.e. being blindfolded, and was surprised at these odd charges regarding my loyalty and years of work in the government sector, where I worked with all honesty, sincerity and dedication, and no official at the Ministry of Health can deny that.
All employees at the Muharraq Maternity Hospital very well acknowledge that there were no portraits for our leadership at the administration, lounge room and other places to start with, making it impossible for me to remove them and replace them with pictures of religious symbols. I would also like to mention that there are no traces of nails, in which the above-mentioned pictures were hanged. Thus, you can obtain witnesses to deny such accusations, like employees who have worked at the hospital for several years. As I mentioned in the investigation, I entered the lounge room at 1:20 PM, before leaving the hospital, and did not spot any picture. This is something that the hospital employees know too. Therefore, it is probable that the pictures were placed at the evening shift. This possibility is very likely to have occurred.
In regard to the other accusation, which is inciting hatred against the regime, then this also can be denied because I did not go to the demonstrations, the roundabout, the assemblies and seminars. To this charge, I respond “Incited who, in front of whom, how and when?” I have always managed to distant myself from politics as I work from morning until eight o’clock in the evening.
The lawyer can check with Mrs. Essa and remind her of the phone call, for she has been manager for a long time, and she is very competent in her work. She knows that no pictures of the leadership were present in the administration in addition to the place having no traces of these pictures. Also, Mrs. Essa is aware of the disaster plan at the hospital and how the command center has the permission to do this at private hospitals as well. Additionally, contact security supervisor Abdulmajeed al-Ekri, Ms. Amal al-Saffar, Ms. Masooma, Ms. Raihana Abdulrasool, Mr. Ali al-Shawai and Ms. Khulood Ebrahim, for they very well know about the absence of pictures of the leadership.
Still, if they meant the hospital’s main entrance, then you should know that this hall is never free of the hospital’s employees, visitors and companions of patients with birth cases, thus it is impossible to remove such images and replace them with other ones in front of these people. If they are willing to testify in court, then there are many witnesses who can deny these accusations and charges.”
Doctors In Chains received this information from a family member that Younis reportedly testified to during one of his appeal court hearings, regarding his treatment in prison:
“Younis said that when he was first arrested, in the same room where some detainees were killed as a result of torture, he too was threatened to be killed. A gun was pointed at his head and he was told he would become a famous martyr. He was threatened to have his wife and only son raped in front of his eyes and was also humiliated and questioned regarding his manhood for only having one son. He was made to stand up on his feet for many hours. He said that he had invited the security officers to go and check his medical chart in the ‘occupied’ Salmaniya(SMC) hospital to verify his ill health, but they refused.
Younis said that he was given one cup, to drink water from and urinate in. He was kept 2 months in his clothes without being allowed to wash. Confessions were extracted under torture, threat and denial to medication. He was forced to sign confessions whilst blindfolded, without seeing a word of the accusations.
Younis also said that as a result of torture, once he started urinating blood, he was taken to the BDF (Bahrain Defense Force) military hospital. The Doctor there asked him: “Where does it hurt you the most?” Younis replied: “My kidney”. Then the Doctor punched him on the kidney. Everybody in the courtroom was disturbed when they heard this.
Now Younis urgently needs to see a specialist, but instead a general doctor sees him and only gives him pain killers. He is likely in need of prostate surgery before his condition turns into something more serious. He also has a slipped cervical disk in his neck.
At the end of Younis’s hearing, he mentioned to the Judge that what he said was only 20% of what he went through and that there are things he cannot talk about.”
UPDATE: On 6th August 2012 Younis Ashoori had his sentenced reduced to 1 year following a lengthy appeal and is to be released since he has already served over 1 year in prison. Thank-you to everyone who supported the campaign for his release.
Read about the other medics currently in prison here.