Two Members of Parliament (MPs) for France drew the attention of the Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, to the worrying human rights situation in Bahrain. This was supported by further comments made on October 12, 2021, by another MP. All MPs made explicit reference to the concerning state of political opposition leader Hassan Mushaima, whose health continues to deteriorate amidst numerous human rights violations by prison authorities. Over the last few months, multiple French MPs have expressed their concern for the government’s systematic violation of human rights, and have urged the Foreign Minister to address the treatment of political prisoners in Bahrain. The three MPs who most recently highlighted the concerning developments in the country were Mr. Michel Larive, Ms. Maud Gatel, and Mr. Guillaume Garot.
Mr. Michel Larive is a member of the Commission of Cultural Affairs and Education and a member of the La France Insoumise. Mr. Larive drew the attention of the Foreign Minister to the situation of Hassan Mushaima, the leader of the political opposition in Bahrain, who was imprisoned for life in 2011 for his activism in the Arab Spring. Mr. Mushaima, now 73-years-old, is currently in very poor health after being denied medical care by the prison authorities. Mr. Larive also mentioned the reports by his family that prison authorities are exerting psychological pressure and punitive measures which has exacerbated his deteriorating health. Mr. Larive explicitly mentioned a recording on ADHRB’s YouTube channel where he referred to the failure of prison authorities to provide Mr. Mushaima with treatment for his ailments, and that he was only provided painkillers which were not adapted to his medical needs. This was followed by reports delivered by ADHRB from his family, who said that his condition was “extremely worrying” and that his “days would be numbered.” Mr. Larive then referred to a Twitter post by Amnesty Bahrain on July 23, 2021, which referred to Mr. Mushaima’s transfer to hospital for medical tests and his extremely high blood sugar and blood pressure levels. In light of these events, Mr. Larive questioned the Foreign Minister on his position on the case, as well as the actions he intends to take with regards to Mr. Mushaima’s release.
Ms. Maud Gatel is a member of the Commission of Foreign Affairs and a member of the Democratic Movement. Ms. Gatel referred to the worrying human rights situation and the treatment of political opponents in Bahrain. Ms. Gatel stated that France has never failed to call upon the Bahraini authorities to respect human rights, recalling at every opportunity the need to guarantee freedom of association, the right to demonstrate, the establishment of an independent judiciary, and the right to fair trial. Despite the initiatives of French diplomacy to change the Kingdom’s position, many are still prosecuted and sentenced simply because of their political opinions. Ms. Gatel reminded the Foreign Minister that this is the case with Hassan Mushaima, who, despite his advanced age and fragile health, is denied access to health care. Ms. Gatel referred to the extremely difficult conditions of detention and the ill-treatment which led to his hospitalization in July 2021. Ms. Gatel stated that this story is not isolated in Bahrain, and is reminiscent of the life imprisonment of the leader of al-Wefaq, Ali Salman, in 2018, a decision that France and the European Union have unanimously denounced. Therefore, beyond the support expressed to the political opponents of Bahrain, Ms. Gatel inquired as to France’s intentions to obtain their release in the framework of its bilateral relations with the Bahraini authorities.
Mr. Guillaume Garot is the Vice-President of the Commission of Sustainable Development and Regional Planning and a member of the Socialist Party Mr. Garot further drew the attention of the Foreign Minister to the situation of human rights in Bahrain, and that ten years after the repression of the Bahraini uprising in 2011, the Kingdom is regularly cited for its violations of dignity and human rights. Mr. Garot stated that these persecutions mainly target opposition political activists and human rights defenders, and more broadly, all citizens expressing a dissenting opinion. NGO’s including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have reported multiple acts of torture and ill-treatment of political prisoners, as well as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, who has reported the risks associated with the conditions of detention of political prisoners. Mr. Garot referred to the aggravation of this situation following the emergence of COVID-19, with detainees who are already denied medical treatment, also not provided with the necessary sanitary facilities and care. Mr. Garot then explicitly referred to the case of Dr. Abduljalil Al-Singace, as well as Mr. Hassan Mushaima, whose state of health is deteriorating sharply without any reaction from the government authorities. Mr. Garot would therefore like to know what actions France intends to take with the international community and Bahrain to reaffirm its commitment to the respect of human rights in this country.
Following calls for action by Gerard Leseul, Jean-Chistophe Lagarde, Isabelle Rauch, Dominique Potier, Sandra Marsaud, Éric Giardin, Xavier Paluszkiewicz, and Guadeloupean MP Justine Benin, the enquiries made by the above-mentioned MPs further portray the significant shift in opinion amongst French MPs. Considering the decisive and determined rhetoric amongst French MPs in opposition to Bahrain’s violation of human rights, it is expected that the Foreign Minister should take definitive action in his bilateral relations with the Kingdom. The pressure shown by these MPs signifies a positive step towards increased awareness on both the domestic and international level, and it is hopeful that such determined action amongst the French Parliament may result in important change in the treatment of political prisoners in Bahrain.