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Bahrain: Death row inmate urges darts players to speak for human rights

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Bahrain: Death row inmate urges darts players to speak for human rights

In letter sent from jail exclusively shared with MEE, Mohamed Ramadan asks Bahrain Darts Masters players to highlight ‘grave injustices’ inmates face

MEE correspondent

Fri, 01/19/2024 – 15:37

Mohamed Ramadan with his son in Bahrain before his arrest in 2014 (Zainab Ibrahim)

Bahraini man on death row who maintains innocence has urged players competing at the Bahrain Darts Masters to show support for human rights in the tiny kingdom.

In a letter seen by Middle East Eye, Mohamed Ramadan asked the 16 darts players participating in the tournament “to speak out about the horrific violations we face,” referring to inmates who suffer “grave injustices” at the Jau Prison according to him. 

Ramadan, 40, has been on death row for almost 10 years. He was charged with targeting police officers with a bomb and killing one of them, though an internal review found evidence he may have been tortured into confessions, something he had repeatedly claimed. 

Ramadan had previously attended peaceful rallies, including one marking the third anniversary of Bahrain’s pro-democracy uprising in February 2014, which drew tens of thousands to the streets just days before his arrests.

In his letter, which was exclusively shared with MEE by the London-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (Bird) and legal action NGO Reprieve, Ramadan urged the darts players to follow the lead of Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton, who previously called out Bahrain’s human rights record. 


“I hope you will follow his lead and speak out for families like mine, whose lives have been devastated,” Ramadan’s letter reads. 

“While being subjected to harrowing torture, officers told me that I am a traitor who betrayed his government because I participated in anti-government protests. They told me that they had been waiting for something serious to frame me and vowed that I would end up with a death sentence,” the letter added.

‘It breaks my heart every day to see my children grow up from a distance, not be able to be there for them when they need me’

Mohamed Ramadan, letter 

Ramadan also emotionally highlighted the ongoing trauma faced by his three children while he is behind bars.  

“I was arrested when my twins were two years old, and my eldest son is now 14. It breaks my heart every day to see my children grow up from a distance, not be able to be there for them when they need me, and miss milestones like their graduation ceremonies.

“My son once told me that he did not know what to say to his friends when they asked why his father never picked him up from school.”

According to Bird, there are currently 26 people in Bahrain on death row.

In 2022, Zainab Ibrahim, Ramadan’s wife, told MEE that Bahraini authorities have been ignoring requests for medical care for her husband, who has been in “severe pain” caused by a lump in his neck.

‘Sports-washing’

Rights groups have also called upon participants in the sports tournament not to fall into Bahrain’s trap of using international sporting events to “sportwash” its “abysmal human rights records”.

In a joint statement by Bird and Reprieve, “sportswashing” is described as “an internationally recognised method by which authoritarian governments seek to utilise sports such as darts to launder their reputation”.

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“What Bahrain wants us to see is just a competition of darts, but the truth lying behind this is that this is a very repressive state that can ruin lives and execute people for primarily demanding democratic change in the country,” Sayed al-Wadaie, Bird’s director, told MEE.

He adds that Ramadan’s message will “carry some weight” because he is sending it from inside his prison cell.

“He (Ramadan) knows what it means to be exposing himself and speaking out from where he is, and what consequences he might face” for sending a letter as such.

The message was communicated by the rights group to Bahrain Darts Master organizers, but al-Wadaei says they have received no acknowledgment or confirmation of receipt.

“I would feel optimistic that if it (the letter) reaches the players and they read Mohamed’s message, I am sure no one can defend Bahrain in handing these sentences to innocent people,” al-Wadaei told MEE.

Death row inmate urges darts players in Bahrain to speak for human rights

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