ADHRB denounces the government reprisals against Mr. Hasan Mushaimaa and his family members protesting his treatment

On 22 November 2022, the Bahraini police arrested family members of prominent political prisoner Mr. Hasan Mushaimaa, during their protest in front of Kanoo Health Center. The 74 year-old pro-democracy leader has been detained at the center for over a year without adequate treatment, leading to the dangerous deterioration of his health.

Mr. Mushaimaa was formerly the Secretary-General of the Haq Movement for Freedom and Democracy, and the co-founder and former deputy of the Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, which was the largest political opposition group before its dissolution in 2016. He is now serving his life sentence since 2011, after being accused of attempting to overthrow the government for his role in pro-democracy demonstrations.

The peaceful protest of Mushaimaa’s family members continues even during the writing of this statement. They have exhausted all means of redress to multiple governmental and international entities without success in saving him from the danger of slow death. However, on 24 November, authorities forced four members of Mushaimaa’s family to go to Al-Hoora Center after the police had imposed a cordon around their peaceful sit-in. They were released hours later after signing a pledge to appear when summoned by the authorities. Mr. Mushaimaa’s son and nephew, who were also arrested, were arrested on November 22 after beatings and insults during their arrest and after paying a financial guarantee. Again, on November 24 the eighth day of the peaceful sit-in, Mr. Mushaimaa’s son and grandson were arrested in front of Kanoo Health Center.

ADHRB reiterates its demand for the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Hasan Mushaimaa. His deteriorating health, immediate need for proper medical care, and the Bahraini authorities’ deliberate negligence make this imperative. We also call on the Bahraini authorities to stop their abuses and violations against other political prisoners, especially the deprivation of adequate health care and to refrain from their violations committed against the families of prisoners, such as preventing them from participating in peaceful sit-ins.

Before that, on May 2021, after being quarantined for 2 months in Jau Prison, under the pretext of receiving health care, Mr. Mushaimaa developed new symptoms including abnormal swelling in the feet with black spots, a large swelling in his leg, severe knee pain, lameness, and difficulty moving. As a result, an ambulance took him to the Bahrain Defense Force Hospital and he was taken back to the quarantine building at 2 am. Doctors suspected inflammation and prescribed medications, noting that his condition required regular follow-up. After the deterioration of his health, neither he nor his family were allowed to see his medical records. In addition, the Bahraini Ministry of Health published a false statement, stating that Mr. Hasan’s medical condition is stable and he is under observation.

On the first of July 2021, a recorded call between Mr. Hasan Mushaimaa and his family was published in which he complained about the policy of slow death pursued by the prison administration against him. He told his family that he feels he’s in danger of death.

After mid-July 2021, Mr. Hasan was transferred to Kanoo Medical Center due to his health condition, and he is still there. His medical examinations have shown a sharp increase in his blood sugar and blood pressure levels. He also suffers from unspecified damage to his kidneys and stomach, swelling in his eye, and a problem with the heart muscle. However, he did not yet receive the required treatment and still suffers from many medical complications. His medical condition was also exacerbated by the lack of movement and the unsuitable food devoid of vegetables and nutritional value for his condition. He was also subjected to punitive measures and suffocating psychological pressure.

Moreover, Mr. Hasan complained of provocation at the center, when an argument broke out between him and the police in March 2022. He remained in the center to monitor his medical condition. However, his prolonged stay was used as a pretext for isolation in the center after he refused an alternative sentence, instead of providing him with the necessary medical care, in addition to depriving him of his right to contact his family. Professor Hassan demanded to be returned to Jaw Prison, describing his stay in the medical center as “solitary confinement.”

According to his son, the activist Ali Mushaimaa, in mid-September 2021, a delegation from the Ministry of Interior offered him his release under alternative penalties on the same day, under the condition of silence and other restrictions, but he refused that offer, adhering to his right to unconditional freedom. He stated on the following day, September 14, 2021, “If I had to choose between shackled, humiliated and conditional freedom, or staying in prison, then prison is dearer to me than what they call me to.” After this statement, the treatment has immediately changed. He was prevented from making phone and video calls for a year, and then the health follow-ups gradually stopped, which led to his exposure to serious health attacks, one of which necessitated his admission to King Hamad Hospital.

In addition to the cessation of health follow-ups despite his presence in a health center, he is isolated in one of the rooms, and is not allowed to leave. He spends all his time alone and his only outlet is the short and limited family visit in the same room.

His son, Ali Mushaimaa, has documented on his Twitter account multiple untreated conditions including a 6-month dental issue. Mr. Mushaima has also been suffering from severe pain and swelling in the knee for more than two years which has disturbed his balance, movement, and robbed him of undisturbed rest. Up to this point, after more than two years, the problem was not seriously addressed. Authorities only gave him oil syringes, which removed the pain temporarily, but the swelling is still present and the pain is gradually returning. The prison administration ignored Mr. Hasan’s repeated requests for treatment, as well as the demands of his family.

ADHRB denounces the violations committed by the Bahraini authorities against the family of Mr. Hassan Mushaima and the families of other political prisoners, subjecting them to ill-treatment simply because they held a peaceful sit-in.

We also have grave concern about the deterioration of his health, and we call on the Bahraini government to take urgent action in providing the necessary health care, leading to his unconditional release and the release of all political prisoners.