Updated Profile in Persecution: Hassan Mushaima

Hassan Mushaima is a prominent Bahraini opposition figure and political prisoner who has been serving his life sentence in Jau Prison since 2011 after being charged with attempting to overthrow the government in light of his role in the pro-democracy demonstrations. During his imprisonment, authorities have been subjecting the 74-year-old to maltreatment and medical negligence. In September 2021, Hassan refused alternative sentencing and is thus still serving his life sentence.  

Since his imprisonment, Hassan has faced various restrictions and has been denied his basic rights, including adequate health treatment. Hassan, who is in cancer remission, suffers from many chronic diseases including high blood pressure and diabetes and has been denied medication and regular checkups for prolonged periods, despite several specialist evaluations indicating that he requires regular treatment and follow-up.  His diabetes and blood pressure medicines are also not provided consistently. Painkillers and medicinal drugs were also not adjusted to his needs.

Furthermore, the prison administration constantly cancels his medical appointments without informing him. For instance, in September 2018, authorities canceled Hassan’s appointmentswith a diabetes specialist and an otolaryngologist. Moreover, authorities have prevented him from undergoing regular Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans which he requires every six months since he is in remission. Even when the scans are done, results are delayed for a long time although they require only one day to be released.  Officers have also used the degrading practice of shackling prisoners while taking them to medical clinics. Many prisoners, including Hassan, refused these practices and thus were denied the required medical treatment. Due to his severe health problems, his situation has been critical and the lack of treatment is causing him “a slow death”.

On 19 October 2020, Hassan was rushed to the hospital due to shortness of breath. Doctors requested that he be seen by a specialist. However, authorities neglected this request and no appointment was made. As a result, Hassan’s health deteriorated further in November, and he was transferred from Jau Prison to the Bahrain Defense Force Hospital, where he was put on an emergency respirator for the second time since October. He was returned to prison after about 6 hours. Again, doctors requested that he sees a specialist. Five days later, authorities finally arranged the requested appointment. It was revealed that the cause of his high blood pressure and shortness of breath is a weak heart. The doctor prescribed him medication and requested another consultation after he finishes his month-long course of medication.

In May 2021, after being quarantined for 2 months on the pretext of receiving care, Hassan developed new symptoms due to diabetes including abnormal swelling of feet with black spots, large swelling in his leg, severe knee pain, limping, and difficulty moving. As a result, he was taken by an ambulance to the BDF hospital and returned to the quarantine block at 2am. Doctors suspected inflammation and prescribed medications, stating that his condition requires regular follow-ups. After his health deteriorated, neither he nor his family was allowed to see his medical records. Moreover, the Ministry of Health in Bahrain posted a false statement in which it said that Hassan’s situation is stable and being monitored.

Two months later, in July 2021, due to his medical situation, Hassan was moved to Kanoo Medical Center, where he remains. His tests showed extremely high blood sugar and blood pressure levels. He also suffers from undetermined damage to his kidneys and stomach, a cyst on his eye, and a heart muscle issue.  However, he has not been receiving the needed treatment and is still suffering from many medical complications. The lack of movement and unsuitable food which was devoid of vegetables and lacked nutritional value appropriate to his condition aggravated his condition. Moreover, he has been subjected to punitive measures and stifling psychological pressure.

Furthermore, Hassan has complained of provocation in the center, with an argument breaking out between him and the police in March 2022. Hassan has remained at the center in order to monitor his medical status. However, his extended stay there has been used as an excuse to isolate him after he refused alternative sentencing rather than to provide him with the medical care he needs, as he has been denied his right to call his family. Hassan has been demanding to return to Jau Prison, describing his stay at the medical center as ‘solitary confinement”.

The mistreatment Hassan has endured, and the restrictions imposed in prison and the Kanoo Medical Center, through confiscating his belongings and denying him phone calls, are clear violations of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, known as the Nelson Mandela Rules. In addition, Bahrain has violated 6 of the ICCPR, by undermining his right to life, through medical negligence and denying him adequate treatment.

Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain calls on Bahraini authorities to engage with the United Nations Special Procedures Offices in light of the communications sent to Bahrain regarding Hassan’s situation. Furthermore, ADHRB demands that authorities immediately and unconditionally release Hassan, who was arbitrarily detained due to his peaceful activism, and all other political prisoners. Finally, ADHRB calls for the investigation of allegations of abuse and mistreatment to hold perpetrators accountable and ensure that Hassan receives adequate and timely medical treatment and regular contact with his family through calls and visits.