Mar 24, 2023

The Notorious "Turkish Armored Vehicle": A Symbol of Inhumane Treatment of Prisoners in Bahrain

The Turkish Armored Vehicle



The Turkish Armored Vehicle, also known as the “Turkish Bus,” is a notorious symbol of inhumane treatment of prisoners in Bahrain. It is primarily used to transfer prisoners from one location to another. The metal body of the vehicle turns it into an oven during the summer, causing vomiting, headaches, and other illnesses.  There are no windows or ventilation, leaving the prisoners in a stifling environment for hours on end.The vehicle is characterized by small, cramped plastic chairs and surrounding bars that prevent prisoners from standing or moving, especially that the prisoners will be shackled by hands and legs. There are two sizes of the vehicle, one or two cells with six chairs. The space inside the cells is so narrow that it is not suitable for even six people. 


The impact on Prisoners: 

The armored vehicle’s impact on prisoners has been devastating. Testimonies from several survivors and prisoners, including Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, paint a harrowing picture of the conditions inside the Turkish Armored Vehicle. 

  • The armored vehicle is primarily used to transport prisoners to hospitals and other treatment facilities. When prisoners are transported to hospitals, they are often placed together, even if some of them have infectious diseases. This can result in the transmission of various diseases to those who are already in fragile health.
  • The situation of the vehicle worsens the health status of the prisoner-patients, who are forced to stay in the vehicle at times up to 7 hours until the transfer happens. This has also led to some prisoners urinating on themselves and vomiting inside the vehicle.
  • In the summer, when temperatures can reach 46 °C (114.8 °F) in Bahrain with high humidity, the vehicle becomes like an oven, causing vomiting, headaches, and other illnesses due to the lack of ventilation and cramped conditions.
  • In the winter, the lack of ventilation causes a feeling of suffocation among prisoners, who are tightly chained and forced to remain in certain rigid positions for hours.
  • Older prisoners with back issues face excruciating pain sitting on the tiny plastic chairs, which can cause long-term complications.
  • The Turkish armored vehicle also causes extreme stress and anxiety among prisoners, which only adds to the trauma of the torture that many prisoners have already endured. 
  • Prisoners who refuse to be transferred using the Turkish armored vehicle are denied their appointments with specialized doctors and proper treatment.


Human Rights Violations in the Use of Turkish Armored Vehicles

Despite the complaints of prisoners and survivors, the use of Turkish armored vehicles continues to be a pressing issue in the treatment of prisoners. This type of vehicle constitutes degrading and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and goes against basic standards of prisoner transportation.

To ensure the protection of prisoners’ rights during transfers, international standards require suitable material and safety standards to be respected. Means of restraint, such as chains and irons are prohibited, and the health of prisoners must be ensured during transportation. Basic needs and comfort breaks should be provided as appropriate, and prisoner transfers should be strictly limited in time and use the shortest routes available, avoiding unnecessary delays.-

As per the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules), Rule 32.2, the transport of prisoners in conveyances with inadequate ventilation or light, or which would subject them in any way to unnecessary physical hardship or indignity, shall be prohibited.



The use of the Turkish armored vehicle for the transportation of prisoners by Bahraini authorities must be stopped immediately. We urge the Bahraini authorities to comply with international standards and respect the rights of prisoners during transfers.

International bodies, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, have a crucial role to play in pressuring the Bahraini authorities to end the use of the Turkish vehicle for prisoner transport. They must ensure that compliance with international standards and the protection of prisoners’ rights during transfers are respected.

Human rights organizations must also take proactive measures to advocate for the cessation of the use of the Turkish armored vehicle and for the protection of the dignity and well-being of prisoners.