'They are killing my father': Bahraini activist launches hunger strike in London

'They are killing my father': Bahraini activist launches hunger strike in London
Ali Mushaima, who has been stripped of his Bahraini citizenship, has launched a hunger strike demanding medical aid for his dying, imprisoned father.
3 min read
06 August, 2018
Ali Mushaima began his hunger strike on 1 August, 2018 [TNA]
A Bahraini activist in London has gone on hunger strike to demand medical treatment for his dying father who is detained in the Gulf kingdom.

Ali Mushaima, who has camped outside the Bahraini embassy in London for the past six days, said his protest was a "last resort", after failed attempts to raise the issue with local and international institutes.

"I wrote to MPs and I contacted different human rights organisations but nothing has changed," he told The New Arab. 

"I decided to raise my father's case and show the world how the Bahraini government treats its people. I'm tired but I am strong, my heart is strong and my mind is strong. I will continue until my father gets his basic rights."

Mushaima has made makeshift signs as he protests outside the Knightsbridge embassy.

Ali's father, Hassan Mushaima, is a leading figure of the political opposition in Bahrain and is among hundreds of prisoners of conscience imprisoned by authorities for his involvement in the 2011 Arab Spring protests, calling for human rights and democratic reforms.

The 70-year-old, described as a prisoner of conscience by leading human rights organisations, has been subjected to "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment", Amnesty International said.

The human rights group also accused the authorities of putting lives at risk.

"My father needs a scan every six months because he has a form of cancer called lymphoma," Ali said, noting the screening was in September 2016.

"My father is dying slowly, they're killing my father slowly. I wouldn't sleep on the street and leave my wife and children for nothing, this is real," he added.

The torture my father has endured has caused such severe problems that he has required surgery four times - Ali Mushaima

In an op-ed penned by Ali for the Guardian, the hunger striker said "Bahrain's authorities punished his father “by subjecting him to humiliating, inhumane treatment in the kingdom's notorious Jaw prison - a horrific detention centre overcrowded with hundreds of political prisoners.

"The torture my father has endured has caused such severe problems that he has required surgery four times," he wrote.

Before February 2017, Hassan Mushaima would receive visits from relatives and prison transfers to doctors' appointments unshackled, and wearing civilian clothes but prison authorities have prevented his family visits since.

Hassan Mshaima needs about ten different medications for erratic blood pressure, diabetes, urinary-tract irritation and gout. He is now completely out of medicine for his diabetes, and must receive insulin shots in his cell.

The prison administration is not providing these on a regular basis and is refusing to replenish supplies of his other medication.

In a statement published by Amnesty, the rights organisation said Mushaima - along with three other elderly prisoners with chronic illnesses - were imprisoned solely for taking part in peaceful protests.

"They should not have been arrested, tried or imprisoned in the first place, let alone continue being subjected to this ill-treatment that is now endangering their lives. They must be released immediately and unconditionally," the statement read.

Hassan Mushaima was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2011 - after what campaigners said was an unfair trial - for leading peaceful anti-government protests on the island.

In the same case, nine other opposition activists received sentences ranging from five years to life imprisonment. Two of them have since been released.

Bahrain, a Shia-majority country located between regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran, has been ruled for more than two centuries by the al-Khalifa dynasty.

Authorities have jailed dozens of high-profile activists and disbanded both religious and secular opposition groups since protests demanding political change erupted in 2011.

They have stripped hundreds of those convicted of their citizenship, leaving many, like Ali Mushaima, stateless.

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