Exclusive testimony of ‘Abu Haytham‘ from the CagePrisoners Saudi Torture Project.
My name is Abu Haytham. I went to Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah in 2005 and was detained arbitrarily…I was imprisoned for 5 years without knowing why. During my imprisonment, I was tortured and humiliated.
I was arrested by the Saudi police and forty people came to arrest me armed with guns without showing me their I.D and no one told me why I was arrested. I remember that most of the officials who came to arrest me, I saw them again during my interrogation.
At the beginning when they were interrogating me, they were very polite and most of the interrogators were lieutenants. Among those interrogators were:
1. Lieutenant Bandar Khaled al-Hazamy
2. Captain Ali al-Badrani
3. Captain Fahad al-Ahmady
4. Captain Yusuf al-Barakaty
The others, I can’t remember their names. But the way they treated me in prison was very bad, and they tried to tell me that it was part of the interrogation. Captain Said al-Shehri, Captain Naqeeb al-Shehri, Captain Nahar al-Sharif, Ali al-Shamarany, Khaled al-Qarashi and Captain Fahad would torture me always but the person who was in charge of the prison, Sulayman al-Muhammady treated me with respect. I stayed three months without clothes except one time when I was permitted to wear them.
They didn’t give me a mattress to sleep but they gave me a blanket to cover myself. I was interrogated for three months with respect but later changed their tactics and they started to beat me, torture me in so many different ways and degrade me.
From what I can remember:
- They would beat me all over my body using equipment for torture
- They used electricity which looked like a stick and at the end of it there were wires which were used to electrocute me
- Severely beaten with sticks and iron bars
- I was whipped with wires similar to electrical cables
They used to keep me awake and I was not allowed to sleep for several days and left me feeling fatigued in the following ways:
- Standing all day in the interrogation room for days without breaks
- Standing under the very hot sun sometimes more than twenty hours
- Standing in freezing cold water only wearing my underwear for long hours
I was forbidden from my following rights:
- I was forbidden from clothes and a mattress continuously for many years
- Forbidden from going to the toilet on specific days
- Forbidden from the air conditioning during summer when the temperature would reach 50 Celsius and I was locked in my cell which was only 2m
- I was not allowed to write or have any newspaper
- I was not allowed to call my family during this period because this was an order from the Ministry of Interior who had stopped me from calling my family officially until after a year. Although my family knew my situation was really bad and how I was living, it was psychologically bad in prison because of my worries.
- They used to chain my legs for long periods and continuously for a period of three months.
- The noise of the fan in my cell would cause me to have a nervous breakdown
- They would force me to eat expired food
- They forced me to sign papers without knowing what was on there
- Directly threatened me in front of a relative even though we are not close, and they threatened to torture me despite what they had already put me through
- They would curse me, insult me, humiliate me and they did things I can’t even say
And from those who tortured and hit me severely was the Sergeant Bakr al-‘Awfi, Captain Yusuf al-Barakaty who interrogated me a number of times in a number of degrading ways and I assure the picture is the same person, Yusuf al-Barakaty, who took part in my continuous torture. They accused me for something I haven’t done and I was forced to write a false confession.
After a year passed of my stay in Madinah….they transferred me to another prison and I was kept in the cell for six months. For your information, I have spent six months in an individual cell in Madinah [in solitary confinement] and during those six months, the air conditioning was switched off and the soldier used to tell me: “This has been instructed by the department of interrogation”.
Nothing was allowed, no books, no newspaper, no writing. I was not allowed to call or even to see the sun during that period and because of this in the cell, my eyesight became weak and I couldn’t buy glasses until after two years and a half which made the vein of my eyes lazy. Also, I had other medical complications with my prostate, I suffered from piles, the veins of my right knee, with my rib cage all because of the beatings and tortured I endured. You can see all the reports in the central prison.
Complicity of Judicial Authority
After three years and a half, they transferred me to Riyadh for the court hearing. When I reached Riyadh, they took me the following day to the court and when I reached there I had no idea that I was going to the court until I went in and saw the judge. I asked if I could have a lawyer and they said it was not allowed even though what was said on National TV was different (i.e. that he was being represented). The judge convicted me according to the details on the testimonies and he sentenced me to [undisclosed] years.
The judge counted the years I’ve been in prison and told me: “I know you are innocent and your story has been fabricated but I want you to learn a lesson in life”. I was deported from Saudi after five years….since my arrest and that was in 2011. Nothing I owned before being arrested was given to me and I was not compensated for the torture I was subjected to or the fact that I was arrested with no charge. I was not allowed to enter Saudi Arabia from any part of the world.
I can’t stop writing. Whenever I want to stop I remember something and say “Allah is sufficient for us and we put our trust in Him”. I want whoever is reading this testimony to know the Kingdom and to help those who have been oppressed and help spread the truth.