Dr. Fatima Haji
Name: Dr Fatima Haji (Fatima Salman Hassan Haji)
Profession: Doctor of medicine (Chief Resident), Rheumatology specialist.
Charges: Enticing sectarian hatred; Disseminating of false news; Participation in unauthorised rallies and meetings; Inciting the overthrow of the regime; and Stealing medical equipment and blood.
Date of first interrogation: 5th April, 2011
Date of beginning of job suspension: 7th April 2011
Date of arrest: 17th April, 2011
Date of release: 8th May, 2011
Date of first hearing at National Safety Special Court: 6th June, 2011
Dr Fatima Haji used to work at Salmaniya Medical Center in the medical department covering the inpatients and accident emergency and was available in the hospital on the following days and managed some of the casualties:
- 17th February, 2011 the day of the first evacuation of the Pearl Roundabout
- 18th February, the day when the military used live ammunition on the protesters
- 13th to 16th March, the attack on Bahrain University, Sitra and other Shiite villages.
Dr Fatima Haji witnessed the following deaths:
- Issa AbdulHussain
- AbdulRidha Hameed
- Ahmad Farhan
- Juma Mayoof
Dr Fatima Haji was heavily involved as she was in-charge of assigning the doctors on duty from medical department to cover accident and emergency. Dr Fatima Haji was arranging things under the direct supervision and taking the orders from:
- Dr Jameela Al Salman chairperson of the medical department
- Dr Suzzan Abbas Depute of Salmaniya COM (chief of Medical Staff)
- Dr Mohammad Ameen Al Awadi COM
The distribution of the doctors on the accident and emergency, the day case ward, the outpatient clinics during the crisis (receiving hundreds of casualties) was assigned to Dr Fatima Haji by them. Daily lists of the doctors who will be on call and backup list especially in those days were known to have demonstrations were sent by Dr Fatima Haji to the disaster team represented by Dr Jameela Al Salman. At the time of the crisis some of the doctors from the Sunii section knew about the crisis before it happened and disappeared (if they were on duty they would simply leave the hospital without official notification to the in-charge or replacement). Some of the doctors were taken to work in King Hamad hospital, like Dr Ahmed A.Latif, Dr Subhi Issa, Dr Islam Shoosha, leaving behind them sick patients in the wards. The hospital in the week of the crisis was mainly covered by volunteers who worked 72 hour shifts or more.
Dr Fatima Haji witnessed lots of injuries from live ammunition, splitter bullets (schawzan as it is called locally), with injuries mainly in the head, eyes, chest and bullet wounds mainly on the back.Dr Fatima Haji also took care of the teargas inhalation injuries. They were in doubt about the type of gas used on 17th and 18th February. It did not appear to be tear gas due to the following medical facts: The patients were not showing the well-known common signs and symptoms of the teargas which is used regularly by the police. The protestors who are exposed to this gas showed only minimal symptoms and after 30 minutes they developed seizures which were not aborted by Valium 10 mg IV. Those who are exposed to this gas developed severe irritability, confusion, hallucinations and psychosis. The symptoms in some of the patients lasted more than 24 hours, which raised the suspicion that a gas other than tear gas was used. Most of the patients experienced severe strider, which is not caused by teargas and responded only to Atropine. They were also experiencing excessive salivation and sweating.
Dr Fatima Haji was in the hospital on 16th March when she heard about the second attack on the Pearl Roundabout and got ready to receive the injured. But at around 8:20 a.m. riot police and military personnel had surrounded the hospital. Tanks obstructed the main doors, preventing anyone from entering or leaving. Riot police damaged cars and masked military personnel had weapons in their cars and were videoing proceedings. Riot police also brought down the medical tent which was opposite the emergency door for receiving the injured and to supply medical equipment. This equipment was broken and taken by the riot police. The masked military men were pointing their guns towards the doctors who were observing them from the windows of the third floor. They gestured to them to move from window or they would start shooting.
On 17th of March while trying to go out of the hospital Dr Fatima Haji witnessed some men lying on the floor with their hands handcuffed behind their backs being kicked by the police. She saw cars smashed and broken in the Salmaniya car park and on the roads surrounding the hospital and in the Arabian Gulf University car park.
Interrogation in the hospital on 5th April:
Dr Fatima Haji was called to the hospital administration area and interrogated there in the presence of four men: 1. Dr Yehya Ayoob the legal counselor in MOH 2. Dr Bahauldain Fatiha from BDF 3. Mr Al Qattan from the engineering department. 4. Another man whom she can recognize. He was the minutes taker. They didn’t introduce themselves to Dr Fatima Haji, but just started interrogating her. The interrogation lasted for one hour and it was basically questions regarding participating in protests, mainly the one in the hospital against the former minister Mr Faisal Al Hammar. They asked Dr Fatima Haji why she was always in the hospital, even after working hours and why she was helping the protestors and was sympathetic to them. They asked her about going to the medical tent at the Pearl Roundabout and helping the protestors who did not deserve medical care as they were trying to overthrow the monarchy. They also asked Dr Fatima Haji if she had signed the petition against the former minister, Mr. Faisal AlHamar, on discovering that he was behind preventing ambulances from leaving the hospital. They asked her if she had said anything against the royal family in the protests.
Arrest and torture:
- Kidnapped from home without a warrant or charge.
- Tortured to confess about alleged accusations
- Denial of right to a lawyer
- Required to signed papers without being able to read what was written on them.
- Detained and her right to see her family denied.
On 17th April – almost 10.30 p.m. - Dr Fatima Haji was alone in her apartment watching TV in the living room, and her two and a half year-old boy was sleeping in his room with his nanny. Her husband was on duty at the hospital. Between 10:40 and 11:40 while dozing, she heard thrusts on the main door, as if someone was kicking the door, trying to break it and the door bell was ringing constantly. She got up in great fear and her heart sank. She ran to the door and asked who it was. Loud, deep voices answered, “Dr Fatima Haji, open the door”. She saw that the main door was moving in and out from kicking, so she asked them to wait for a second while she covered herself, but they kept trying to break down the door. She opened it. Almost 25 men or more entered Dr Fatima Haji'a apartment. They were wearing civilian clothes; but carrying guns and had covered their faces with black ski masks. They were accompanied by a short woman (156-158 cm), with short black hair. She was chubby, but muscular and wore jeans. Her voice was very harsh and had a Sunni accent. She had a very sharp look (her face was not covered), and walked and talked like a male. Dr Fatima Haji felt she looked familiar, and later on found out that it was Noora Al Kalifa, a senior officer at the drug section at CID (Criminal Interrogation Directorate).
Dr Fatima Haji asked them, “ Who are you?” They didn’t answer and, distributing themselves in groups, went about searching every nook and cranny in her small apartment. Noora Al Kalifa then asked Dr Fatima Haji if she had a laptop. She said she did and went to the living room were it was kept. Noora Al Kalifa took it and gave it to one of the masked men. She then asked Dr Fatima Haji whether she had others. Dr Fatima Haji mentioned her husband's laptop, whereupon she insist on taking that too. Dr Fatima Haji had some of the case records that students of RCSI had submitted to her, as she was a lecturer in RCSI. Noora Al Kalifa read those papers. Dr Fatima Haji told her they belonged to her students, so she asked: “What cases are those?” Dr Fatima Haji answered that they were just regular case papers of patients. Noora Al Kalifa said: “So you have records of the other patients who are injured in the protests?” Dr Fatima Haji said she didn't have any such documents with her. Then Dr Fatima Haji was asked to go to her bedroom with Noora Al Kalifa. While there, some men attempted to enter her son's bedroom. She begged them not to enter as her son would be scared and cry. They said they would not go in. Noora Al Kalifa then pushed her into her bedroom and closed the door. Dr Fatima Haji saw one of the men trying to break into her safety box. She told him there was nothing inside except jewelery; but he shouted at her to give him the key. She couldn't find it and they soon left.
In the bedroom, while she searched her room, Noora Al Kalifa asked Dr Fatima Haji to dress in something, as they would soon leave.
During the search, two laptops, a digital camera, a Blackberry and a Nokia phone, car keys, flash memory sticks, papers, letters from work, and Dr Fatima Haji's ID card that she used for hospital entry were taken.
Dr Fatima Haji was dragged down the stairs while more masked men watched. Outside the building she was shocked to see three or four Jeeps filled with riot police and four or five civilian cars around the building. She was pushed into a white Jeep Prado. She later learned from her Indonesian nanny that the masked men had entered her son's bedroom and lifted his head from the pillow to search it and the bed. The nanny was so frightened, she refused to work in Dr Fatima Haji's apartment any more.
Outside the building Dr Fatima Haji saw her father- and mother-in-law looking pale with worry and feeling helpless as the masked men kidnapped her.
Dr Fatima Haji got into the Prado, driven by Noora Al Kalifa while an unmasked man called Sadiq, sitting next to her, helped her navigate. It seems it was he who had shown the men where Dr Fatima Haji lived. Noora Al Kalifa drove at a frightening180km/hr to Adliya CID (Criminal Interrogation Directorate). On arrival Dr Fatima Haji was blindfolded and directed into the building.
Dr Fatima Haji was kept in a corridor, which she knew to be a corridor because of the slap of doors on both sides. She was made to stand facing a wall, fearing the unknown. She heard the footsteps and sounds of men passing by. Then some footsteps came towards me and a very loud voice screamed: “Who are you? What's your name?” Dr Fatima Haji responded, “Fatima.” “What’s your father's name?” the voice demanded. “Salman,” Dr Fatima Haji replied. “What’s your full name?” the voice blurted. She replied, “Fatima Salman Hassan Haji.” Whereupon the shouting got worse. “So you are Fatima Haji? You are the one we are looking for so long. Finally we've got you. All that we have heard about you and what you did comes from a tiny young person like you? You won't endure what is waiting for you!!! You should be ashamed of what you did.” Then the person walked away. Once again, shrouded in deep darkness, Dr Fatima Haji feared what would come next.
After sometime she heard more footsteps approaching and suddenly stop. She felt a body very close to her. Then, all of sudden, a voice whispered in her ear and she moved away in fear until she was shouted at to return. She went back and again a voice whispered in her ear asking: “Do you know why we brought you here?” Dr Fatima Haji shook her head. He said, “Listen, I will give you a piece of advice; at the end of the day you are going to confess and say whatever we want you to say. This is definitely what we will achieve and it can be done in two ways: either you cooperate and say whatever we want and we will treat you as a human, or you can get stubborn and we will beat you like a donkey and get what we want anyway.” Then he said, “Think,” and went away.
Dr Fatima Haji continued standing like this for almost 30 minutes. Then Noora Al Kalifa called her to enter a room and pushed her in it. Dr Fatima Haji was at least glad that the interrogation would finally begin and soon be over. What she did not know was that this was the beginning of the longest night of her life.
Dr Fatima Haji expected to be asked to sit, but was shocked when she was shouted at, called a whore, told to stand on the spot and directly answer questions by a man with a Saudi accent. “What was your role in the 14th February Revolution?” he demanded. She wondered what role apart from that of a doctor. “I asked you your role,” came the voice. “ I want details. We have all night for you.” So Dr Fatima Haji asked where she should start. He said, “14th February.” She answered that nothing happened that day, as it was a holiday and she had gone with her husband to dine in the evening and celebrate Valentines Day. Suddenly she heard a chair moving and the sound of banging on a table. The man came towards her and shouted, “You piece of shit. I can't tolerate your lies.” Dr Fatima Haji said, “My brother, this is the truth.” He shouted back: “Don’t call me your brother. I would be dishonoured to have someone like you as a sister.” Then he asked her to continue, so Dr Fatima Haji said that all she did was treat the injured protestors. He then screamed, “Ohhhh, it seems you are not cooperating. I won’t interrogate you then, but I will let someone else who can.” The door opened and closed. Then Dr Fatima Haji heard the sound of Noora Al Kalifa coming towards her. She handcuffed Dr Fatima Haji's hands behind her back. Then she started slapping Dr Fatima Haji using her both hands – a hand for each cheek. Noora Al Kalifa said she would continue slapping for an hour. She slapped for almost 15 minutes then started to complain: “You are thin and don’t have nice cheeks to slap!!!” and started hitting, with both hands at the same time, Dr Fatima Haji's face and jaw. She started to bleed and her head felt numb and heavy.
During this Noora Al Kalifa was not asking questions; but just cursing and calling Dr Fatima Haji and her mother a whore. Then there was a knocking at the door and the door opened. Dr Fatima Haji heard whispering before Noora Al Kalifa started screaming, “You whore. Who did you send emails to? What did you write in your email to Human Rights Watch?” Dr Fatima Haji replied with the facts: she was suspended from work, didn’t receive any salary for two months and most of her colleagues had been arrested. Noora Al Kalifa recommenced her screaming. “Are you complaining about your government?” she shouts, “How dare you write emails to Human Rights Watch?”
Then a man's voice asked her: “What relation do you have with the Manchester United coach? Dr Fatima Haji was shocked to realise that her emails were being scrutinised. She had sent an email to the Manchester United team after the death of Ahmad Shams, a child killed in a riot while he was playing soccer with his friends. He was a big fan of the team and he was wearing the team's shirt. In her email Dr Fatima Haji asked the team to stand for a moment of silence at their next match. This idea was spread using Blackberries and thousands of letters were sent from inside and outside Bahrain.
Irritated, Noora Al Kalifa left the room and came back with something, which Dr Fatima Haji later found to be an item she wore on both hands while she hit her simultaneously on both sides of her head, electrocuting her once or twice. It was very painful. She felt the whole world was spinning. Then Noora Al Kalifa started beating her on the head again, saying: “I have never interrogated someone so without feelings like you. You are acting strong! Holding on and not crying! Do you know what I did with your other friends - Ali Al Akri? He was in this place crying and begging for mercy.” Noora Al Kalifa then said all the friends of Dr Fatima Haji that she had interrogated, confessed against Dr Fatima Haji – A. Khaliq, Gassan and Rula and that they didn’t give her such a hard time. Then she said: “I want you to confess that you are the one who stole the blood from Salmaniya Blood Bank and gave it to protestors to throw over their shirts to make out to the media that they had been shot.” Dr Fatima Haji denied this.
Noora Al Kalifa got angry and left the room. When she returned she threw Dr Fatima Haji on the floor still handcuffed. She raised Dr Fatima Haji's legs onto a chair, removed her slippers and started beating Dr Fatima Haji with a hose on the soles of her feet. As it was very painful Dr Fatima Haji withdrew her legs, whereupon Noora Al Kalifa kicked her thighs.
Noora Al Kalifa then takes off the blindfold to show Dr Fatima Haji her Blackberry device and asks her to read the email she sent to Human Rights Watch and translate it into Arabic. When she removed the blindfold Dr Fatima Haji couldn’t see anything. Her eyes blinked very fast and were painful. After a few minutes the blinking slowed and she was able to open her eyes for longer. Shockingly, there was a flash of white light and she lost all vision. All the time Noora Al Kalifa was shouting at her to read. She was too scared to tell her that she couldn’t see anything. So Noora Al Kalifa hit her and called her a whore. Dr Fatima Haji then swore that she couldn't see anything. Noora Al Kalifa replied that she wished she would go blind. The man then asked that her legs to be lowered and for her to stand, to see if that would bring her vision back. Then Noora Al Kalifa asked Dr Fatima Haji to stand up, which she could hardly do as she felt severe pain in her left thigh and hip. However, after a couple of minutes she started to see again and read and translated the email.
Then Noora Al Kalifa asked her to confess that she was spreading false news in the media, which Dr Fatima Haji denied. She said, “Do you remember the report on Al Jazeera in which you were crying? Dr Fatima Haji said she was crying because she had seen Issa Abdul Hussain's head after it was blown apart. Noora Al Kalifa didn’t like this answer. She started hitting Dr Fatima Haji's head, saying this was not the truth and telling her she had to say that this man was killed by Ali Al Akri and that the police had nothing to do with it.
Then she showed Dr Fatima Haji a video recording of Dr Fatima Haji talking about what happened during the two weeks after 17th February and the type of casualties she received. The video had been recorded in the medical tent at the Pearl Roundabout. Noora Al Kalifa was very angry and started shouting that what Dr Fatima Haji had said was all lies, and that there were no martyrs, no injured protestors and no casualties.
After few hours of this Dr Fatima Haji was so exhausted that Noora Al Kalifa kicked her out of the room, She then asked a women jailer to come and take Dr Fatima Haji to a single room in the female detention area, saying, “Make her stand up until the same time tomorrow, so when you bring her back to me she'll be so exhausted and almost dying she'll be ready to confess.”
When the female jailer saw Dr Fatima Haji she gasped, “ What happened to her?” Noora Al Kalifa said, “I don’t know why every time I interrogate someone they bleed. I like it when they go out of the room with my signature on their faces.” As Dr Fatima Haji left, another woman gasped, “Oh my God, what happened to her?” She said Dr Fatima Haji needed to be taken to a clinic as her condition might deteriorate overnight. The first one went to speak to Noora Al Kalifa, who told her, “Do whatever you want, I don’t really care.”
With her eyes still closed Dr Fatima Haji was driven to a clinic where a cream was prescribed before she was returned to CID just after morning prayers. She was made to stand for hours in a freezing room and not allowed to pray or sleep. She was forced to keep a bag of ice on her swollen face to stop the bleeding.
Dr Fatima Haji was made to sit on a chair from morning until afternoon prayers (al Asr), before being called for more interrogation. She was taken back to a room where she once again heard the voice of Noora Al Kalifa and a man. She asked, “Are you ready to confess now?” Dr Fatima Haji asked, “What exactly do you want me to say?” Noora Al Kalifa told her to confess that there were no martyrs or injured protestors and that all this had been fabricated. She was again showed the video recording and told to deny every fact she had stated in the recording. When the video reached the point where Noora Al Kalifa was stating that the medical tent had received a young female who had been sexually molested and bruised by the police upon the first evacuation of the Pearl Roundabout on 17th February, Noora Al Kalifa stopped the video and was very angry, saying this was fabricated too and that the police did the great job in evacuating the roundabout without a single casualty. Noora Al Kalifa asked, “Do you know what they did to her exactly? Do you know what sexual harassment is? Now I will let you see it with your own eyes.”
Then Noora Al Kalifa kicked Dr Fatima Haji out of the room and asked her to raise both her hands and one leg up and to stand on the other leg, which she couldn’t do. So she just raised both hands. She then heard three or more men approach. The first asked her to flap her arms as if they were wings and produce the sound of a pigeon. He then asked her to say: “Purrrrr purrrrr, I got caught.” When she didn't say it right first time he hit her head with his hand and kept asking her to raise her voice. He called his colleagues to come and see what he had caught. They all laughed loudly. Dr Fatima Haji felt very humiliated and cried.
She was then asked to imitate the sounds of different animals, such as a cat and a hen that was laying an egg. One man asked her to open her mouth and blew in it and on her cheeks. Another repeatedly asked her who she was loyal to. Then Noora Al Kalifa said, “ Guys, she is still the winner. You should step up what you are doing.” They then started asking her about the size of her underwear and bra, and hit her head to make her answer. They laughed at her asking whether she was suffering yet and made jokes about her breast size.
Then one asked Dr Fatima Haji, “When was the last time you saw your husband?” She replied, “Two or three days ago.” He then said, “So you haven't had sex for the last two or three days; it seems you want someone to do it with you right now.” One of the men said to another, “You have drunk a lot, you should stop now. You can’t hold yourself any more.” “Yes,” said the other man, “I can’t hold myself, I want to do it to her right now” and laughed. Another voice told them to stop and whispered to her: “I feel very bad about all that these guys are doing to you. Do you want me to make them stop molesting you?” Dr Fatima Haji said yes, so he asked her,”Then you are ready to confess everything?” She said, “Yes,” and was taken to an office where she was told to sign some papers without reading them.
Dr Fatima Haji was again called for interrogation. This time Noora Al Kalifa asked her how many times she had participated in demonstrations. Dr Fatima Haji answered, “ Twice”, whereupon she started to shout, demanding to be told the exact number of times and how many days Dr Fatima Haji had helped in the medical tent. Noora Al Kalifa was angry and said that this time she would take Dr Fatima Haji to the manager himself.
They then went up the stairs to the first floor, where Dr Fatima Haji was taken to someone they called the manager. He had the loudest and heaviest voice ever to shout at her and Dr Fatima Haji's heart sank. He threatened that if Dr Fatima Haji didn’t talk, her family would find her rotting corps in one of the big trash cans. At that moment Dr Fatima Haji seriously felt that she would not get out of the building alive.
Then the manager threw something at her and came towards her shouting, “If you don’t tell me the exact number of demonstrations you took part in, I will strip you fully naked, hang you from your nipples and ask these guys to start raping you. Then I will make you put my dick in and out as many times as you took part in demonstrations. Dr Fatima Haji said to him, “Tell me how many times and I will say it.” He then said, “OK, take her now”, whereupon she was taking to the prosecution area where she underwent another five hours of interrogation while blindfolded, and was required to put her signature to documents 12 to 15 times without reading them.
19th April, 2011, during the night, Dr Fatima Haji was moved to Isa Town female detention center. There she was forced to strip naked by Policewoman Fawzia and even her private parts were searched. She was asked about the bruises to her face and legs; but they were recorded as being the result of a fall in accordance with documents from CID.
Until her release she was kept in a room with another female detainee. They did not suffer physical abuse there, only verbal abuse. They were asked to clean the toilets used by other detainees who had been arrested for prostitution and drug dealing. They also had to clean and mop floors, carry heavy containers containing food and drinks from the ground floor to the first floor and serve others. They cleaned and served three times a day, were discouraged from praying and forbidden to meet to share religious proceedings and to read the Qur'an and the Doaa.
Day of release:
8th May, 2011, Dr Fatima Haji and was moved to CID, where she was blindfolded and taken to Mobarak Bin Howayl. He threatened that she was being released on bail, would have to attend a military court and forbade her from talking to media about what she had been through. She was asked to sign three papers stating that:
- 1. She would not participate in any gathering of five or more or any demonstrations and would not talk to the media
- 2. She had not been physically abused or tortured, and that when she was examined there were no signs of torture on her body.
- 3. She was being released on bail and would have to immediately attend if summoned for an investigation or court hearing.
27th June, 2011 Dr Fatima Haji received a call at 11 a.m., to attend at Hoora police station. No reason was given; but she was told that if she did not attend she would be taken by force. She attended at 12.30 p.m. with her husband and lawyer; but her lawyer was refused admission. She was again shown the video recording of her and repeatedly asked to deny all the facts she had stated in the recording. She refused to talk without the presence of her lawyer, but he was not called. Finally she was told that she had been called to deny on film for BTV's Saeed Al Hamad show (open dialogue)(hewar maftooh), all she had said in the video and to apologize.