Bahrain poet Ayat Al-Gormezi described to Al-Manar Website the level of torture she was exposed to in detention, speaking about her apology video and the “impressive” reception by Bahrain People.
Israa Al Fass
Translated by Sara Taha
20-year-old Ayat Al-Gormezi was neither a frivolous character nor an inciting voice when she came out in Douar Al-Loloa (Pearl Roundabout) and read those “provocative” lines. She was not even going into politics when she expressed the Bahraini people’s feelings with her own words that “disparaged” the ruling royal family.
“When I stood in the roundabout I wasn’t intending to offend the regime, but to expose the people’s sufferings,” Ayat told Al-Manar Website, reassuring her belief that "the core of the conflict in Bahrain is not in the regime figures, but in the policy that this regime adopts."
“We are living a crisis of trust and dignity… especially as detainees, we were exposed to the worst kinds of abuses,” Ayat said.
Nine Days under Torture, Inquiry Absurd
The revolution’s poet told Al-Manar Website about the level of torture and brutal beating that she faced in detention, indicating that “they started torturing me the moment i laid foot in the security vehicle… the security men started beating me blindly on the face. As soon as I arrived to the interrogation department, a group of men there started kicking and beating me.
“They kept me in a small room that smelled very bad… it was filthy and full of insects… and they were continuously beating me and cursing me without any interrogation,” Ayat said.
She continued: “I spent nine days of torture in the interrogation center, even though interrogations usually take only two to three days. The inquiry was absurd… the interrogator focused on reminding me that the state was paying my education fees, and that it had paid for my father’s education too. He was also pointing out that my father works in a ministry and that our house is property of the State, while barely mentioning the poem I read on the roundabout.”
“After the interrogation center, I was moved to the remand center. It was a prison for detainees that were not sentenced yet. They kept me in an isolated room for several days, due to the apparent torture marks on my face. They locked me up until the marks were gone, and then they allowed me to call my parents… I didn’t speak to my parents except after 16 days of detention,” Ayat further explained.
Apology Video and Intense Beating
Regarding the video that was broadcast on the official Bahrain Channel where Al-Gormezi appeared apologizing for the King and the Cabinet Chief, Ayat indicated: “After moving me from the interrogation center to the remand center, they blindfolded me, and dragged me to an unknown location. They took me into a room where a masked person was standing. He threatened me and said: “you have experienced our beats enough. If you want to experience them again, you only have to speak in opposition to what I demand!”
“He told me you have to say this and this… and asked me to appear relaxed and normal, indicating that the video will only be kept in the archive and will not be aired,” Ayat added, clarifying that “they told me what I had to say, but I was flustered because I was surrounded by around 20 masked men.”
“As soon as the video shooting was over, they began beating me up… they hit me with wood on the head and then sent me back to the remand prison. They feared that the attacks may have caused some kind of disability, especially that I was suffering from severe headache, and so they brought me a doctor,” Ayat explained. She sarcastically went on saying “they used to beat me and then get me a doctor!”
I Was Impressed and Proud of the Bahraini People
After asking her if she had ever met with representatives of human rights organizations or members of investigation committees formed by Bahrain's King during detention, Ayat Al-Gormezi assured: “ I did not meet with anyone from human rights organizations, but during the last few days, an Algerian writer visited me for around 10 minutes. From the way he was speaking I knew he was related to the regime. He told me thatI should be strong and that the poet is supposed to serve his country with poems and not assail its symbols.”
“Before leaving the room, he told me: Hopefully in the future you will become a great poet, and you will write for Bahrain and not against it.”
Ayat was released after three months of detention over reading a poem critical to the regime.
The poem included her popular lines: “We are people who kill humiliation and assassinate misery. We are people who destroy oppression peacefully. Don't you hear their cries? Don't you hear their screams?”
Reading these lines had a certain effect on the public. However, living them made Ayat deserve the title that the Bahraini people has chosen for her.
The “Revolution’s Poet” was amazed by the public reception and celebrations for her release.
“I was impressed with the people’s insistence and adherence to their stance and demands. I was shocked by the passion that the people received me with. I was proud of the people of Bahrain,” Ayat told Al-Manar Website.
Pointing out to the uselessness of going into a “pro forma and theatrical dialogue”, Al-Gormezi considered that “calling for toppling the regime, or attaining constitutional monarchy, are variable proposals for only one goal.”
“Our goal is that a secure, democratic state would dominate Bahrain, in a way that would meet people’s hopes. Eventually, ways of expression could vary, but the goal is only one,” Ayat reassured.