Ottawa man tortured in Bahrain wants investigation
Naser al-Raas said he was electrocuted, beaten and shot at during incarceration
An Ottawa man is back in Canada from Bahrain after a year-long ordeal in which he says he was tortured for 31 days for taking part in pro-democracy protests.
Naser al-Raas, 29, flew out of Cairo on Sunday and, after a connecting flight from Amsterdam, arrived in Montreal on Tuesday.
"The first time that I felt safe was yesterday," said al-Raas, who said he was electrocuted and subject to three mock executions — where his jailors fired rifles above his head — during his incarceration.
Al-Raas was arrested in March 2011 and charged under Bahrain's illegal assembly laws after taking part in protests.
He spent a month in detention before he was released and was later convicted in October. He went into hiding as he fought to have the charges dropped, but was arrested again. He appealed the charges and was released on bail Feb. 6.
He did not leave the country, however, as Bahraini officials did not release his identification and passport.
Canadian consular officials helped the Kuwaiti-born Canadian citizen with his acquittal and later secured his departure in March out of the country and to Egypt.
Wife still stuck in Egypt
He said his wife, Zainab Ahmed of Bahrain, remains in Egypt as they work to get Bahraini officials to confirm the validity of their marriage. He said Bahraini authorities have refused "because of who I am and because of my record."
The Canadian government, which along with international human rights groups like Amnesty International fought for al-Raas's release, said they now consider the matter resolved.
But al-Raas said he doesn't consider his case finished, and said he wants the Canadian government to pressure Bahraini officials to investigate his detention.
Al-Raas wants torturers brought to justice
"I was tortured, I was treated unfairly, I was being beaten, stood for long hours, and ... taken under gun for 31 days to a secret facility in Bahrain," said al-Raas.
"I call the government to step in and call for a full investigation where I was being held at that time, and to bring the torturers in front of justice," he said.
Al-Raas, who also has an underlying heart condition — a chronic pulmonary embolism — according to his doctor, said he is now adjusting to life back in Canada as he tries to bring his wife here.
"I have mixed feeling now," he said. "I am safe and back home. I’m just... I don’t know. I had horrible experience from last year until now. I don’t know how could I... turn myself back to normal, but it will take time. But I am optimistic now."