My Father’s Life is in Danger for Defending Bahrain’s Freedom
By Ali Mushaima - Open democracy
I was only 15 years old when I was arrested, imprisoned and tortured, during the 1994-1999 Intifada, the peaceful mass protests that demanded constitutional change.
During this time, my father, Hassan Mushaima, had already spent six years in prison, due to his early involvement in the pro-democracy protests. Over the past three decades, he has spent many more years in prison for his activism and leading role in Bahrain’s political opposition.
My father was the co-founder and secretary-general of the Haq movement, and co-founder and vice president of the now dissolved Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, formerly Bahrain’s largest political opposition group.
In 2011, the mass protests that erupted against the regime and the violent repression that followed, brought back these painful memories for me and my family. Thousands took to the streets demanding an end to tyranny and a peaceful transition to democracy.
This was the moment I realized that it was up to people like myself, my father and thousands of other proud Bahrainis to create a different future for our country. Although I was living in the UK, my heart, mind and soul remained with my people in Bahrain.
On 17 March this year, my 73-year-old father completed ten years in the infamous Jaw Prison, where many opponents of the regime are incarcerated. He was arrested in 2011 along with other opposition leaders two days after Saudi and Emirati forces entered Bahrain to suppress the peaceful, popular movement.
He received treatment for cancer in the UK before being imprisoned and presently he suffers from diabetes, gout, heart and prostate problems, and is in remission from lymphoma. In spite of these severe conditions, my father has been routinely denied access to adequate medical care by prison authorities.
On 27 March, a large COVID-19 outbreak was reported in Jaw Prison. My father’s health is at particular risk of deteriorating amid this outbreak.
Approximately 100 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the prison. These new circumstances, combined with the already unsanitary and overcrowded conditions, place not only my father, but potentially thousands of political prisoners at high risk of infection.
There is increasing international scrutiny of the Bahraini authorities for their human rights abuses and the lack of freedom for citizens. On 11 March, the European Parliament passed, with an outstanding majority, an Urgent Motion Resolution on the human rights situation in Bahrain.
On six separate occasions, the UNHRC’s Special Procedures offices have sent communications to Bahrain, pertaining to the treatment of my father. The abuse he has endured constitutes a violation of international detention standards. Several prominent, international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have raised serious concerns about his case. And in 2018, I carried out a 63-day-long protest [46 days of which were spent on hunger strike] outside Bahrain’s London Embassy, in the hope of saving my father’s life.