3 October - Yesterday afternoon at 16:00, Bahraini activist Ali Mushaima ended his protest outside the Bahrain embassy in Knightsbridge, London. For the first 44 days of his protest Ali was on a full hunger strike, then he resumed a full diet while continuing his sit-in outside the Bahraini embassy. He is protesting against the treatment of his father in Jau Prison, Bahrain.
Ali’s decision was announced at 16:00 yesterday at a press conference outside the Bahrain embassy. It followed advice from campaigners and health professionals. During his hunger strike, Ali lost 16 kilos.
Ali’s father, political opposition leader Hassan Mushaima (70), was arbitrarily arrested and tortured before being unlawfully convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment by a Military court as part of the crackdown in Bahrain.
Hassan has been deprived of vital medical care, family visitation and access to books. His treatment has been condemned by Amnesty International. He suffers from erratic blood pressure, diabetes, gout, and a urinary tract infection, as well as being a former lymphoma cancer patient.
Ali has written and spoken about his father’s mistreatment. He has also written to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), and the Queen, asking Her to use Her strong friendship with the King of Bahrain to help him save his father. Despite the lengths he has gone to, the Middle East Minister, Alistair Burt, has refused to even meet Ali.
Despite the repression in Bahrain, the UK government has continued to arm and support the regime. Government data, compiled by Campaign Against Arms Trade, shows that since the ‘Arab Spring’ uprising began in February 2011, the UK has licensed over £80 million worth of arms to the regime.
Furthermore, Since 2012, the FCO has spent more than £5 million on its technical assistance programme to Bahrain to train Bahrain’s police and prison guards on human rights and to establish new bodies to investigate torture allegations.
Ali’s protest and his efforts to save his father have gained cross-party support. SNP Westminster Leader, Ian Blackford, has called on the Secretary of State to demand Hassan Mushaima’s release. Ali has also been supported by Labour MP, Andy Slaughter, Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesperson Christine Jardine MP, and former co-leaders of the Green Party, Caroline Lucas MP and Jonathan Bartley.
In his speech, Ali Mushaima said: “My personal experience with the Bahraini regime is not only through its criminal treatment of my father, the first time I was arrested and tortured I was only fifteen years old, it is something one never forgets.
I came out here because I fear for my father’s life, and I will continue fighting to save his life. As a result of my protest and hunger strike, I have many people helping me. That is why I see my protest as a success, not because it exposed how horrible the Bahraini regime and its allies can be, but because it showed me the good in all those who support justice.”
Andrew Smith, spokesperson for the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), said: “The UK government should not be arming and supporting the Bahraini dictatorship. Theresa May and her colleagues have been complicit in the appalling treatment of Hassan Mushaima and other political prisoners in Bahrain. We are always being told that the UK stands for human rights and democracy around the world, it is time for them to listen to prioritise human rights, and end the arms sales.”
Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Director of advocacy ad the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), said: “During the past two months, Ali has demonstrated outstanding bravery as he was able to shed light on the horrific treatment his father and all political prisoners are subjected to in Bahrain. Now it is time for members of the British Parliament to halt the British complicity and hold Ministers to account for their toxic relation with Bahrain.”