Canadian thankful to Ottawa for helping him escape Bahrain
He wants the federal government to help bring those responsible for torturing him to justice
— A Canadian man who was jailed in Bahrain for taking part in pro-democracy protests is calling upon the government to bring his alleged torturers to justice.
“Canada should ask my torturers to be held in front of justice,” he said. “I can’t do it as an individual, to start a case against Bahrain, and I want the government to do it, to expose what they did to me and the others.”
Naser Al-raas, 29, arrived in Ottawa on Tuesday after flying into Montreal. He was freed in February after lobbying by the Canadian consulate and various international rights agencies.
The Kuwaiti-born Canadian citizen says he was stranded in Bahrain after local authorities refused to return his ID or belongings and the company charged with delivering a new passport to him lost it.
He eventually left Egypt on Sunday.
Al-raas was convicted of breaking Bahrain’s illegal-assembly laws after allegedly taking part in pro-democracy protests. He was facing a five-year prison sentence. His detention began March 20, 2011, when Bahraini authorities arrested him at the airport.
He said he was on his way to visit his sister when the protests happened and was observing, not participating in them.
Al-raas said he was thankful to the Canadian government, Amnesty International Canada
“I was electrocuted six or seven times, but I was beaten every day.” The man in the next cell died through “the same torture methods.”
— Naser Al-raas
and other groups that called for his release.
“They don’t even know me [but they] worked on my behalf,” he said.
Al-raas recalled his time in prison as a “continuous horror dream, where you cannot wake up.”
“I was electrocuted six or seven times, but I was beaten every day. Those were the worst days of my life,” he said.
Al-raas said one man in the cell next to him died through “the same torture methods.”
“I don’t want another [person] to experience this,”he said.
When the plane touched down in Canada, Al-raas said he felt excitement, but also felt “inner fear” as he lined up at the customs counter.
He said he was remembering the day he was taken from the airport in Bahrain and sent to prison.
After passing through customs, Al-raas said he ate his first meal in Canada and hopped on a bus to to Ottawa to meet his mother and four siblings.
“I want to feel normal again,” he said. “This is my home. This is my place.”
In the coming weeks Al-raas said he hopes to rest and continue his walks around the city.
Also, he said he hopes to be able to bring his wife, Zainab Ahmed, who is a Bahraini citizen, to join him in Canada. She is currently in Egypt.
“I think if they want to hurt me, they’ll want to hurt her,” he said.
The couple married after AlRaas was released from prison in February. But he said the marriage, which took place before an imam, is not yet official because the Bahraini Embassy refused to grant them permission to get married.
As a result, they don’t have a marriage certificate.