Rida Al-Ghasra’s Legend: From the “Great Escape” to Freedom & then Immortality

2017-02-12 - 7:35 am

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Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): The Legend...That's how the Bahrainis knew martyr Rida Al-Ghasra. He is the 29-year-old whose total prison sentences amounted to more than a 100 years. He only saw himself as a free man. He succeeded in escaping tight-security prisons three times, the last of which was a month before his demise.

The Bahraini authorities linked Rida Al-Ghasra's name with a cell comprising 61 persons, claiming he was involved. They accused the cell of forming the February 14 organization after his arrest in 2012. From Dry Dock detention center (May 8th, 2012), he managed to escape for the first time. The Interior Ministry said that he escaped while he was disguised as someone else after a family visit.

After about 6 months, a group of "civilian" forces attempted to assassinate him after shooting from a short range at the vehicle he was riding with his friend Aqil Mohsen. Al-Ghasra was able to flee but he was hit by a bullet in his shoulder, which he extracted himself later. The authorities took Mohsen into custody after he sustained a serious injury from shrapnel bullets that ripped his face.

The security intelligence continued to hunt down Al-Ghasra until they eventually apprehended him on May 24, 2013. Footage of Al-Ghasra being subjected to torture during his arrest was circulated at the time. The security authorities who arrested him filmed him as he was handcuffed to the back and thrown face down to the ground.

The Public Prosecution alleged that Al-Ghasra was carrying a weapon and ammunition at the time of his arrest, and that he was ready to shoot. The prosecution also accused him of being involved in incidents of "shooting at security patrols and attacking them, as well as blowing up a vehicle."

The security forces; however, did not take Al-Ghasra to the Dry Dock detention center this time, where detainees pending investigations are usually held. He was admitted to Jaw Central Prison out of fear of another break out.

Despite the strict security measures in Jaw Prison, Al-Ghasra was able to escape again from prison on April 21, 2014. He broke out from a air conditioning vent in another prison cell and got out if a window after sawing off the iron rods, and then someone picked him up in a boat, according to the Interior Ministry.

In retaliation, the regime forces took his father and brother into custody. Meanwhile, the Interior Minister issued a decision to replace the Jaw Prison head and form a special committee to investigate the circumstances surrounding the prison break.

Only two days after, the Interior Ministry announced that its forces were able to apprehend the fugitives of Jaw Prison, who were hiding in a house in the Saar area along with a number of wanted suspects, particularly Al-Ghasra.

This time Al-Ghasra was held in solitary confinement and on October 25, 2014, he announced going on a hunger strike. Thus, the prison authorities were compelled to convince him to end his hunger strike in return for being transferred to a cell block where he can commemorate Ashura, and then returned to solitary confinement.

In the beginning of 2017, the Interior Ministry announced the escape of 10 prisoners. Everyone was certain that Al-Ghasra was one of the fugitives, for he wasn't born to be confined behind bars. Al-Ghasra's prison break this time led to referring the prison head and two other senior Interior Ministry official to interrogation.

Security forces set checkpoints across the country in an unprecedented fashion, searching for Al-Ghasra and his companions, which led to heavy traffic jams on highways for more than a week. Government forces also raided  a number of areas yet failed to catch the fugitives.

On Thursday (February 9, 2017) penned the last chapter of his life... This time he fled towards martyrdom. The Interior Ministry said that they pursued a number of persons who were attempting to flee the country by sea. The authorities; however, decided to end his life this time rather than re-arrest him, with a bullet they wished would have killed him four years ago. They thought that with this bullet they would put an end to his name and legend, yet his memory will forever live on.

Just like the Epic of Gilgamesh, the sea was only a stop point to Rida in his search for immortality.    

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