Bahraini activist Ali Mushaima was hospitalised after completing one month of his hunger strike outside the Bahrain Embassy in London to protest the inhuman treatment of his 70-year-old father, political prisoner Hassan Mushaima, while serving a life sentence in Bahrain. Mushaima was taken to St Thomas’ Hospital in Westminster by ambulance Thursday afternoon.
Since the beginning of Mushaima’s protest on 1 August, he has lost 13 Kg. Mushaima’s doctor, who paid him a visit outside the Embassy last night, said his health conditions were critical, including low sugar levels which had reached 4.1, low body temperature and low blood pressure. This morning, Ali’s sugar levels reached 3.2.
On 28 August, Mushaima received a call from his father who informed him that he was taken to the hospital unshackled for a PET cancer scan. This came after two years in which the Bahraini authorities have denied him access to an oncologist. Hassan also told Ali that all of his books, personal notes, writing material and even the Quran might have been destroyed after being confiscated without “any legal or logical justification” in October 2017. The authorities appear to have taken this action even though the materials were previously approved by the prison administration. This information was provided to a fellow inmate by a prison officer while Hassan was at the hospital.
Mushaima has publicly spoken about his father’s mistreatment, including contacting the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and writing to the Queen, asking Her to use Her strong friendship with the King of Bahrain to help him save his father.
Mushaima’s peaceful protest and his efforts to save his father have now gained cross-party support in the UK. SNP Ian Blackford, called on the Secretary of State to step in and demand Hassan Mushaima’s release. The co-leaders of the Green Party, Caroline Lucas MP and Jonathan Bartley, have additionally written to MENA Minister Alistair Burt to demand intervention.
BIRD has written to the Foreign Office to express concerns that it is relying on assurances by the Bahraini government and the UK-trained National Institute for Human Rights (NIHR) in Bahrain. Through its technical assistance programme, since 2012 the UK government has been funding various institutions in Bahrain that are complicit in the denial of adequate medical treatment, including the NIHR.
Mushaima told BIRD yesterday: “The Bahraini authorities are shameless. It took a month of hunger strike in London before they allowed my father to undertake his cancer screening in Bahrain. The same happened with my other requests which they ultimately acknowledged. I will not stop until my father gets what he is entitled to, and the more authorities abuse him, the more I will expose them.”
Commenting, BIRD Director of Advocacy, Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei said: “It is heartbreaking to see someone going through so much suffering to demand respect for the most basic human rights that everyone should be entitled to. Instead of meeting Ali’s simple demands, the Bahraini Government tried to publicly defame him. In so doing, the Gulf Kingdom is normalising a new worrying pattern of abuse against political prisoners, and by backing their lies, the UK has now become part of the problem, rather than a solution.”
In response to Ali’s hunger strike, Hassan Mushaima received a cancer scan and has been given access to vital medication that was previously unavailable to him, but several issues remain:
In January 2018, Hassan Mushaima was told by a doctor at the Bahrain Defence Force Hospital that he urgently needs to see a diabetes specialist. He has not been granted access to a consultation yet by the authorities.
In October 2017, Hassan Mushaima’s books, personal notes, and writing materials were confiscated for no reason. They may have been destroyed.
Hassan Mushaima continues to be denied his right to family visitation without being subjected to humiliating measures, including being shackled. He last saw his family 18 months ago, in February 2017.