Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): “The decision was made and the execution shall be immediate. The judge has no other choice,” that’s what the official at the Bahraini Department of Immigration and Passport said to Dr. Masoud Jahromi, chair of the department of engineering at Ahlia University, putting an end to his “physical presence” in his homeland, Bahrain. Three destinations were proposed to Jahromi; Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey. He was put in car, then on board a plane. The camera on the officer’s mobile phone was following Jahromi and recording him. Jahromi waved goodbye to the officer and was flown away. From now on, Jahromi says, “I am travelling to Allah and he who travels to Allah enjoys stability.” There, in Bahrain, that has become very distant, the judge has no choice. It is indeed like what the official said. That’s how it is in Bahrain; your fate is unknown. You go to sleep as a normal citizen at night, and then wake up to find yourself to be stateless in the morning. You have to leave to Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey! Jahromi says, “I calmly replied: May you allow me to consult my family? Here, he answered with a relatively high voice saying: “We’ve been calling you since morning and you made us wait until noon and now you are asking to consult your family.” Bahrain Mirror met with Dr. Masoud Jahromi at his current residence and conducted the following interview with him:
Bahrain Mirror: First of all, tell us about the revocation of your citizenship in 2015. How did you receive the news? Where were you at the time?
Masoud Jahromi: On Saturday, January 31, 2015, I was having lunch with my family at Country Mall at about 2 p.m. I received a short WhatsApp message about a decree revoking the nationalities of 72 citizens with the Al-Wasat newspaper link attached. Before receiving the message, I was discussing with my wife how she is going to pursue her academic studies and begin her PhD after finishing her Master’s degree in February 2015. I told her while I was holding my cell phone, “only God knows what will happen. Let us wait until the end of the Academic year and then we will decide.” At that time the link opened and I was surprised to see that my name was the third mentioned in the list. The list of those stripped of their citizenships was not well-organized. The first five names were not in alphabetical order, unlike the rest. This means that the first five names, which I was among, were added later on.
Bahrain Mirror: Were you dismissed from your job or did you resign after your citizenship was revoked?
Masoud Jahromi: I directly called the office of the university’s president on Sunday and asked to meet with him because we were at the beginning of the semester. I asked him about the university’s stance, so I’d know what my fate would be; his answer was logic: you were hired based on your degree and experience. You have been one of the university’s capacities since it was established. Your job contract has nothing to do with your citizenship. We agreed that I proceed my work as chief of department and instructor at the same time. However, 10 days later, I received a call from his office asking me if I can meet him at about 12. When I met him he told me that he received a call a day earlier obliging him to dismiss me and that he was trying not to. However, he received another call from the minister’s office on the day I met with him who asked him to execute the decision otherwise measures will be taken against the university. The president said that he negotiated with the university’s administration and that they decided not to dismiss him but to suspend me from work until the result of my appeal against the decision to revoke my citizenship is issued. I was previously suspended from work in 2011 for 10 months (5 months in prison and 5 others while I was waiting for the result of my trial that ended by imprisoning me over participating in a protest). I did not receive any money, thus, I asked the university’s president whether I will receive the money or not? The normal answer was of course no. Since I was sure about the result of the appeals, I asked him to accept my resignation. He told me that I was supposed to receive my dues from the social insurance and that they will give me a 2-month-salary as a reward.
I contacted the social insurance and after several reviews, they requested the court’s decision that orders deporting me so I can receive my dues. After the minor court issued its verdict, I again contacted the insurance and submitted all the required papers, however, my application remained suspended in the office of the vice executive president for 6 months for no reason; the university is a private sector and the amount was deducted from my monthly salaries since I started working in the university in 2003.
Bahrain Mirror: What other types of harassment were you subjected to after your citizenship was revoked?
Masoud Jahromi: I was prevented from exercising trade activities or any other kind of work. Thus, my financial commitments with the bank and my children’s school fees put further psychological pressure on me. The most difficult thing among them was the unclear future of my family and the uncertainty of our plans.
Bahrain Mirror: After the court of appeals upheld the decision to deport you, what did you think?
Masoud Jahromi: I neither committed a crime nor a felony that requires revoking my citizenship, so I refused the decision at first. Since the beginning, I worked on accepting reality and avoiding the useless shocks and acted in accordance to my religion and national duties. When I received the first court summoning over illegal residence and after I consulted law experts, I contacted the department of immigration and passports. I explained that I have no nationality and that I am ready to provide a Bahraini warrantor if they allow me to live a normal life in my country without being insulted. I also told them if this was difficult, I demand them to issue me a valid travel document so that I can leave the country. In the first court session, we presented a copy of the discourse to the judge; however, we received no reply. When the course of the court of Appeals was changed, things became clearer.
I contacted the Ministry of Interior on February 25, asking it to postpone my deportation until the end of the academic year. Meanwhile, I contacted the National Institution for Human Rights asking it to interfere to delay my expulsion. That was not my desire, but my wife was receiving treatment at her parent’s home and doctors recommended that it was better for her to stay. Moreover, my son had school to attend to. Because I did not receive a final response, my wife decided to return to Bahrain on Sunday, March 6. At 13:30 p.m. of the same day, the verdict was issued; my appeal was rejected and the court upheld the previous sentence. I received the first call from the department of immigration and passports at 8 a.m. of the following day, Monday, asking me to attend. I did not consider their call and called the National Institution for Human Rights again. I went to them and waited until I met with the official who told me that the institution’s president is, in person, following the issue and that their law experts advise me to submit a request by the lawyer to delay the execution of the sentence. We submitted the request and waited until the end of the business hours, but we noticed that the judge did not comment on the application and did not even return the file to the employee. At the same time, the department of immigration and passports contacted me and I kept on repeating the same response every time; which is that I submitted a request to the execution judge and that I am waiting for his reply. Then I began to hear threatening tones in their calls; thus I consulted my lawyer and decided to go to them.
Bahrain Mirror: Were you physically or psychologically insulted at the department of immigration and passports?
Masoud Jahromi: When I arrived there at about 4 p.m., the employer was waiting for me along with another person who seemed to be a security officer. They did not treat me badly but they only blamed me for being late. I clearly responded by telling him that I submitted a request to the judge and as per law I have to receive an approval or rejection. He answered: the decision was taken and the execution is immediate. The judge has no other choice.
Bahrain Mirror: Did you talk with any of the officials in the department?
Masoud Jahromi: After they told me that the execution was issued, they asked me to choose my destination. I answered: Britain! He said that it requires a visa. I replied: you asked me to choose and I did. He then asked me to choose between Iraq, Lebanon or Turkey. I calmly replied: May you allow me to consult my family? Here, he answered with a relatively high voice saying: We’ve been calling you since morning and you made us wait until noon and now you are asking to consult your family.
Bahrain Mirror: How many officers accompanied you to the airport? Did they allow you to bid farewell to your family?
Masoud Jahromi: I had an idea about the issue as others have been deported. I bid farewell to my family before heading to department of passports and took my luggage with me. My brother, wife, nephew and the lawyer accompanied me. They were not allowed to enter with me at the time of discussion; they stayed outside waiting for me. I left my belongings with them. We finished and there was a car waiting for me, we put my things in the car, and I said goodby to my family. I rode the car with the driver and official.
Bahrain Mirror: As lawyer Mohammad Al-Tajer said, you had a transit in Qatar, where you under surveillance in Doha’s airport?
Masoud Jahromi: while we were in the car, the official called asking for the police entrance gate in the upper floor of the airport to be opened. We entered from a small gate that is connected to the hall of the passports offices. I waited there in a small room until it was the time of the flight, we headed towards the gate with the official, driver and three people from the airport’s security. Before boarding the plane, they gave me the passport that was issued on the same day and that is valid for a year. On the nationality slot, they wrote that I am a Bahraini resident. They also gave me a visa. When I went on board the plane, the official was videotaping me using his phone camera. I looked at him and waved my hand as if I was waving goodbye to him. After the airplane door was shut close, they left and their mission end.
Bahrain Mirror: Why, in your opinion, were you targeted and expelled? Is this a message that the regime wants to deliver to the Shiites in Bahrain?
Masoud Jahromi: Of course, it is well known that I am a man of culture and academics. I am not concerned with politics. Although I am not a member of any political party, they consider me linked to Al-Wefaq. After the sentence was issued in January 2012, I did not take a part in conferences and seminars. I did not even appear in the press or social media. I might be targeted because I did not participate in the elections and I followed Al-Wefaq’s decision to boycot the elections.
Bahrain Mirror: Have you decided in which country you are going to reside or is it still early to talk about this?
Masoud Jahromi: I believe that we are travelling to Allah and he who travels to Allah enjoys stability. You might think that I avoided answering you or that this is not an answer to your question, but I really mean it. Since my study days my friends have suggested that I should work on achieving residence in a developed foreign country. After the 2011 events and due to my arrest, human rights organizations that are concerned with academics offered to help me by providing opportunities to receive a scholarship for a year or two as an academic researcher. I will, of course, contact them and review the proposed offers. I am stateless now, will this be easy? Don’t forget that I am a husband and father to a boy and girl. I am held responsible before God. The decision is difficult and may change at any time. The compass that controls my decisions will always be based on “obedience to Allah”. Aren’t we on the right path! I believe that the divine promise will be met.
Dr. Masoud Jahromi was born in 1970.
He received a BA in mechanical engineering from Bahrain University in 1993.
He received a Master’s degree in Information Technology and Control from UK’s Manchester University in 1994.
He received a PhD in network engineering at the UK’s University of Kent in 2002.
He worked as an engineer in the Bahrain Petroleum Company (Bapco) in 1994.
He worked as an instructor since 2002 in the Ahlia University and chair of the communications engineering department until 2015.