Exclusive testimony of ‘Abu Muhummad‘ from the CagePrisoners Saudi Torture Project.
In the name of Allah the Most Beneficent the Most Merciful
My name is Abu Muhammad. I was born in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the city of Madinah where I lived. I was arrested by the secret service (Mabahith) of Madinah in 2010. The group that arrested me comprised of officers, and foot soldiers in plain clothing. I was not arrested in a legal fashion, I was neither informed I was to be arrested nor did anyone present their ID or a legal document ordering the arrest. This was similar to a kidnapping. I do not know the names of those who arrested me however I am able to recognise some of them if I see their images.
During the time I was held I was subjected to verbal, physical and severe psychological abuse. This was done so they may extract false confessions off me that have no basis in reality. After two years of arrest I was deported from Saudi Arabia where I was born and where my family reside. They did so without charging me with any offence or standing before a court nor was I allowed to appoint a lawyer to represent me and attend my hearings as their law states.
I have seen the provided image, I know who it is, his name is Yusuf al-Barakaty. I learnt his name from some of the prisoners that were with me in prison. This Yusuf al-Barakaty is an officer and an interrogator in the Saudi secret service (Mabahith). He is ranked as a first lieutenant. However a brother heard him speaking on his phone saying “I am Captain Yusuf”, so perhaps he was elevated to the rank of Captain. This interrogator was responsible for my case and for forcibly extracting confessions from me. I came across him in the interrogation rooms, where he tortured me both physically and psychologically. I have documented here some of what I can remember of his conduct towards me:
1) He deprived me of sleep for approximately 3 consecutive days and nights. He would order the guards in his absence to not allow me to sleep, and if I am overwhelmed by sleep to be awaken violently.
2) He would compel me to remain standing for long periods of time reaching to over 10 consecutive hours. This was while my hands and feet were bound by chains and my eyes were blindfolded.
3) He would slap me on my face to humiliate me. He used to slap me so hard that the markings would remain on my face for many hours.
4) He made heinous threats at me about beating me excessively and prolonging my stay in prison.
5) During one interrogation, approximately 5 individuals gathered around me. One of them dragged me by my feet – I was seated upon a chair – dropping me onto the ground. Thereafter some of them took hold of my hands and others my feet, the rest (approximately 3) began to strike me on my back and legs using thick electric cables, I was screaming from the severity of the pain. My screaming did not prompt them to stop, instead they continued till my blood was shed and my clothes were stained by it. I can still remember the complexion of some of them. None of them were dressed in military clothing. In fact some of them had sport clothes on while others wore plain clothing. Some were masked, I wish it had been out of shame from their abhorrent actions, rather it was out of fear of reprisals on their cowardly selves. Thereafter Yusuf Al-Barakaty entered – he being my interrogator – knowing what had occurred to me as no soldier is allowed to touch any person except with the permission of the interrogator, therefore it was he who ordered it. When he entered and saw me stained with my blood, he said nothing instead he continued interrogating me.
6) I wanted to pray so I requested of the soldier to ask the interrogator, who was not in the room, if the shackles on my feet could be removed and to be allowed to wash the blood off my clothing so that I could pray. The interrogator, Yusuf al-Barakaty, refused even for just washing the blood from my clothes. I remained in this state for a number of days unable to wash it off.
7) The interrogator would compel me to remain standing, if he was absent he appointed a soldier to not allow me to sit. I would remain standing for periods reaching up to 10 hours without anything to lean on, to the extent that my feet would no longer carry me. I remember once I was fasting and I was made to stand while both my hands and feet were bound. I became exhausted so I asked that I be brought some water so that I may nullify my fast due to the exhaustion that overwhelmed me. They refused which was obviously an order of the interrogator as the soldiers are unable to do anything except by his permission. The interrogator, Yusuf [al-Barakaty], came to me and threatened me with prolonging my imprisonment. He seated me on a chair and placed his knee on my thigh, then held onto my head and slapped me on my face repeatedly and powerfully. He then went to the neighbouring room where another person was. I heard him crying and screaming from the severity of the torture. I did not know what was being done to him however I heard him screaming out “I do not know”. His voice was freighting and it tore my heart. It seemed his situation was worse than mine and his torture was harsher than mine. I would like to note that this was a form of psychological torture. Any person who hears an oppressed person crying and screaming due to torture will feel his spirit is being destroyed, especially when this person is near to you and you’re unable to assist him.
The harshest days of torture were during the beginning of my imprisonment. I was put in solitary confinement for five months where I saw nobody during the day. They would take me for interrogation daily, the timing of which was unspecified. At times it would be in the morning and other times during the evening or night. The interrogation would last from a few hours up until to 10 hours and sometimes even longer.
At times they would take me for interrogation and compel me to remain standing with my hands raised, while I was shackled and blindfolded. I would be left in this state for many hours only to be returned to my cell without being interrogated.
Another person had interrogated me, his name was Major Ghazi al-Sa’idi, I learnt his name from some of the soldiers. He and Yusuf Al-Barakaty took part in my interrogation and torture.
While I was in the interrogation room one day, Ghazi al-Sa’idi came and had a thick electricity cable with him. He began to strike the person beside me then he entered upon me and began to beat me. He concentrated on the exposed parts of the feet and hands. He would demand that I confess to things I do not know about. Then he moved to the next person, we were approximately 3 persons or more. I did not see them however I heard their screams and shouts. Ghazi al-Sa’idi then came back to beat me again. During this severe torture Yusuf [al-Barakaty] came along accompanied with an officer, I do not know his name but I am able to recognise him from an image of his. The three of these men ordered me to remain standing with my hands raised while they moved over to the person beside me. The torture in that room was severe, as were the screams. My heart tore apart due to the screams of that brother, I was invoking Allah for him and that Allah does not return them to me. The barbaric torture continued with no mercy for approximately half an hour or more. Hearing his screams was more difficult upon me than killing me.
These were the most difficult days of my life. After it, the interrogations continued for a year. They would ask me concerning matters I am ignorant of in hope of extracting confessions of things I did not do. They placed me in solitary confinement for 5 months. I did not see anybody during that time nor was I allowed to contact my family. The living conditions were very harsh, all due to the orders of the interrogator.
During the period of my imprisonment which lasted for 2 years and a month, I was not put on trial nor did I face a court or even charged. I was deported to (X) in 2012. Although I am free now, my heart is in agony due to what I saw in Saudi Arabia. My conscience feels pain when I hear of human rights organisations who claim they wish to lift oppression from humanity but we saw nothing from them when we were most in need of them.
I hope in Allah and then in everyone who is able to assist me in retrieving my rights and compensation due to what I suffered from physical torture, humiliation, depravation of my freedom and psychological pressures. Also to punish those who transgressed against us and committed heinous crimes against humanity.
The name of the survivor has been changed to protect his identity