In Bahrain, Effects of Detention are Retroactive: Hamid Al-Khatam as an Example
By Zeinab Daher
Hamid, the father of Abdullah, Ridha and Mariam al-Khatam, is not the first opinion prisoner who paid his life for expressing his thoughts in the Bahraini Kingdom. Sadly, he won’t be even the last one…
Bahrain has a full record of human rights violations. It is the country where detainees, who are originally political or human rights activists, are either executed [without notifying their families] or ill-treated on all levels. Hamid al-Khatam is the latest example.
Bahrain is also the country that hosted the conference that proposed US President Donald Trump’s Middle East plan to steal the rest of Palestine and its capital, al-Quds. This spot on the map boasts of public and open ties with the ‘Israeli’ occupation regime. Moreover, Bahrain unsurprisingly exchanges touristic trips from and to the ‘Israeli’-occupied territories, in a blatant act of normalization with the most brutal regime in the world, that is supposed to be the main enemy of the Arab and Muslim worlds that consider occupied al-Quds their holiest site and first destination.
Here is the sad story of Bahraini Twitter activist Hamid al-Khatam who passed away on Friday, January 31st, 2020.
Hamid joined Twitter in 2011. He tweeted from his personal account @hhaammeed, among other accounts, in support of the Bahraini detainees. His posts often denounced the crimes of the AlKhalifa regime against activists in his homeland.
On July 25, 2016, Bahraini regime forces raided Hamid’s home at dawn and arrested him. His terrible crime was making his own posts on Twitter. Hamid’s tweets were labeled as ‘inciting hatred against the regime’ and ‘insulting the king’.
During interrogation, it was evident that Hamid's phone was hacked, and monitored by the government. Interrogators attempted to force him to reveal the identities of other online activists.
Al-Khatam, a father of two sons and a daughter, belongs to Samaheej, a small village located on the Bahraini Kingdom’s northern coast of Muharraq Island. His crime was that the tweets he made were advocating to the popular demands. Hamid was sentenced to two years in prison. However, on November 15, 2016, the Appellate Court commuted his sentence to one year. Though arrested in perfect health, he was released suffering from lung cancer due to torture and medical negligence.
When he was released from prison upon serving his sentence on July 25, 2017, Hamid was suffering from cancer. He battled the disease until his tragic and untimely death.
Hamid served part of his sentence in the Dry Dock Prison, then was transferred to the other notorious Jaw Prison. He was diagnosed with cancer due to poor health conditions there. The disease caused deterioration of his health as he faced medical negligence and was denied the required treatment. Al-Khatam left Bahrain to receive treatment in India after finishing his verdict in July 2017.
Hamid also endured torture and ill-treatment while behind bars.
Although it was evident that Hamid suffered from cancer, there are conflicting reports regarding its type. Some activists said it was a lung cancer, others reported it was a stomach cancer. Little has been known, but in such condition, it is possible that Hamid had been suffering from both types, until someone can prove the opposite.
Months later, the 38-year old Hamid returned to Bahrain, but did not recover from the disease that appeared in his body shortly after.
Hamid was known for his kindheartedness and manners. He was a member of the Samaheej Charitable Society, and was known to be helpful and charitable to those in need.
Sad is the story of Hamid and his fellows, but sadder is our reality. Such cases go completely unnoticed by media, and so they are by rights groups that are supposed to be advocating for such humans’ rights.
Hamid is both an eyewitness and an example on the suffering of Bahraini political detainees. There are scores of opinion prisoners behind the Bahraini regime’s bars, who are suffering from all kinds of dangerous diseases and being denied the basic treatment.