They were each shot four times through the heart. Twelve bullets in total. Death by firing squad.
That is how Bahraini prisoners and torture victims Sami Mushaima, 42, Ali Al-Singace, 21, and Abbas Al-Samea, 27, met their demise on January 15, 2017. They were charged with using improvised explosive devices that killed three police officers in March 2014. Their trials were marred by confessions obtained under torture, a lack of evidence, and the absence of due process. Al-Samea, a school teacher, was sentenced to death despite presenting the court with an alibi letter from his employer proving he was at school that fateful day.
The last time a death sentence was carried out against a Bahraini citizen was in 1996 — twenty-one-years ago. As exiled activist Maryam al-Khawaja pointed out upon learning of the three men’s imminent deaths, the execution of Isa Qambar in 1996 was one of the main causes of an uprising that lasted until 1999 and led to over forty deaths and thousands of arrests.
This time, too, the executions were met with widespread anger within Bahrain, as well as serious condemnation by local, regional, and international human rights organizations and institutions. Over the last week alone, according to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, a total of 200 marches took place across forty-one Bahraini villages. Of those, fifty-seven were violently attacked by riot police.
Unfortunately, while the tiny nation still reels from the shock of these latest killings, two more men are now also at imminent and renewed risk of execution. They too have been charged with killing a police officer. They too have allegedly been tortured and suffered ill-treatment in prison. They too have undergone grossly unfair trials. They too unequivocally do not deserve death.
Their names are Mohamed Ramadhan and Hussain Ali Moosa. Their death sentences were upheld in November 2015 and their fates are now in the hands of King Hamad, who is faced with the decision to pardon them, commute their sentence, or order their execution.
Given how hurriedly Mushaima, Al-Singace, and Al-Samea were executed – the king ratified their death sentences merely a week after they were upheld by the Court of Cassation – there is justified fear about Ramadhan and Moosa’s lives.
“Bahrain should not under any circumstances execute two more young men, especially where there is credible evidence of confessions obtained through torture and unsound convictions,” Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said in a detailed statement on their cases.
Mere condemnation by Bahrain’s allies is no longer enough to sway an increasingly brazen regime. Local civil society groups are earnestly calling on the United States and the United Kingdom to institute a complete arms ban against the Bahraini government until a moratorium on the death penalty is introduced, torture allegations are seriously investigated, and perpetrators of torture are prosecuted.