Profiles in Persecution: Sheikh Hasan Isa

Sheikh Hasan Isa Marzooq is a 47-year-old Bahraini Shia cleric who has been targeted for religious and political persecution. He was arbitrarily arrested, threatened, and subjected to an unfair trial. He currently remains in Jau Prison, where authorities continue to deprive him of medical care.

Sheikh Hasan formerly served as a Member of Parliament for the Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, winning 92% of the votes for his election in 2010. He resigned his parliamentary position following the government’s violent response to the peaceful protest at the Pearl Roundabout in February 2011.

On 18 August 2015, officers in plain clothing arrested Sheikh Hasan at the Bahrain International Airport’s passport control on his return from a family vacation in Iran under suspicion of funding terrorism. The officers provided no warrant or reason for the arrest.

The officers transported Sheikh Hasan to the Ministry of Interior (MoI) Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID), where officers interrogated him for three days. During the interrogation, the officers threatened and insulted him, and they prevented his lawyer from attending. Sheikh Hasan also reported that he was subjected to psychological torture during this time. He was forced to sign papers without knowledge of their contents, which were later used in the trial against him.

After three days of detention at the CID, officers transferred him to the Isa Town police station, where he remained for nearly two years, during which he was held in a cell alone, separate from other detainees. On 29 March 2017, he was sentenced to ten years in prison, despite providing evidence of his innocence. He was transferred to Jau Prison, where he currently remains. His appeal is ongoing, with the next hearing scheduled for 5 September 2018.

As a result of the conditions of his detention, including prolonged detention alone, Sheikh Hasan has exhibited symptoms of deteriorating vision, pain in his knee high blood pressure, and a skin condition brought on by stress. He has also twice been hospitalized for kidney stones. Moreover, he suffers from a serious toothache due to a temporary filling that shattered and became infected, and for which he has still received no treatment. To remedy this, Sheikh Hasan has been chewing on one side of his mouth for more than a year.

In August 2018, Sheikh Hasan was transferred to the prison clinic and prescribed medication. However, more than two weeks later, he still has not received it.

Multiple complaints have been filed to the MoI Ombudsman and the National Institution for Human Rights, though neither body has taken any action to alleviate his suffering.

Bahrain is in violation of a number of international legal obligations, including those under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT). Bahrain is a party to each of these treaties. Hindering Sheikh Hasan’s access to legal counsel, particularly during his interrogation, and the subsequent use of a coerced signed statement in his trial is in violation of Article 14 of the ICCPR and Article 15 of the CAT. The use of psychological torture is further in violation of Article 7 of the ICCPR and Article 2 of the CAT. Finally, the medical neglect and Sheikh Hasan’s subsequent suffering as a result are in violation of Article 12 of the ICESCR, and may amount to torture in violation of the CAT.

ADHRB calls on the Government of Bahrain to uphold these obligations by annulling Sheikh Hasan’s conviction as a result of an unfair trial, and ensuring that any future legal proceedings are carried out in accordance with international due process and fair trial standards. We also call on the authorities to investigate allegations of torture and ill treatment in detention centers and prisons, and to hold wrongdoers accountable. Finally, we urge the Bahraini authorities to provide adequate and necessary medical care for Sheikh Hasan and all other prisoners.