Take Action: Disabled Teen Neglected in Bahraini Prison

ADHRB is calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Jassim al-Banna, a 17-year old high school student currently detained in Bahrain who suffers from Marfan’s Syndrome, a potentially life-threatening condition.

On 6 January 2014, Bahraini security forces entered Mohammad al-Banna’s home looking for his teenage son, Jassim. Jassim al-Banna suffers from Marfan Syndrome, a potentially life-threatening genetic disorder that affects the body’s connective tissue. Connective tissue holds all the body’s cells, organs and tissue together and plays an important role in helping the body grow and develop properly. For Jassim, the disorder has resulted in a congenital heart defect that prevents him from participating in any strenuous activity, as well as impaired vision and hearing.

Jassim has been held in prison for more than 90 days since his arrest on 6 January. His family reported that during the course of his detention, Jassim lost consciousness at least once and was taken to Salmaniya Hospital by security forces. He was scheduled for a follow-up appointment on 30 March, but was never transported back to the hospital for the appointment. According to the Marfan Foundation, it is “very important for people with Marfan syndrome and related disorders to receive accurate, early diagnosis and treatment. Without it, they can be at risk for potentially life-threatening complications.” Given the missed appointment at Salmaniya and official state reports that describe medical facilities at Bahraini prisons as inadequate, Jassim’s family believes he is not receiving proper medical treatment or accommodations for his condition, and is deeply concerned for his health and well-being.

As a result of his detention, Jassim has missed months of school and has not received any supplementary instruction. He has also missed scheduled exams, which he is not allowed to take while incarcerated. Jassim also suffers from impaired vision and has difficulty hearing and as a result, he has required special accommodations at school which he is not receiving in detention. In phone calls to his family from prison, he complains that he is bullied because of his Marfan Syndrome.

Jassim has not been found guilty of any crime and is charged with vague and politically-motivated charges such as participating in an unauthorized protest and “promoting terrorism-related crimes”. His trial will take place this Thursday 10 April. Due to the political nature of the charges leveled against a disabled child and the potentially life-threatening ramifications that denial of medical treatment can have on Jassim, ADHRB is calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Jassim al-Banna. We are also requesting that the Government of Bahrain ensure that he is receiving proper medical care and sufficient accommodations for his special needs.

To join us in expressing your concern for Jassim, please call, email or send a letter to the Embassy of Bahrain in Washington, D.C.:

Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain
3502 International Drive NW
Washington, D.C. 20008
Phone: 202 342 1111
Fax: 202 362 2192

Please click here for a PDF of this information.