The health of two prominent Bahraini political prisoners has deteriorated as prison officials continue to deny them access to appropriate medical care. 71-year-old political opposition leader, Hassan Mushaima and Hajer Mansoor Hassan, mother-in-law of BIRD’s Director of Advocacy, both complain that responsible parties at Jau Prison and Isa Town Prison have repeatedly failed to arrange hospital appointments or provide test results.
Hassan Mushaima, suffers from a range of complex medical needs which require regular attention. Having previously overcome lymphoma cancer, Hassan requires check-ups every six months to monitor for the resurgence of tumors.
In order for him to receive his prescription, however, prison authorities insist that he would have to go to the prison clinic shackled and in prison uniform, which he refuses to do. Such restrictions are contrary to Rule 47 of the Mandela Rules for being “inherently degrading” and should only be used as a precaution against escape or to prevent prisoners from injuring themselves. When imposed on an elderly individual who poses no such risks, they may amount to ill-treatment.
As a result, Hassan was refused an appointment for two years and is still yet to be provided with the results of the PET scan he was eventually permitted in August 2018. On 29 February 2019, prison officials once again failed to take Hassan to a scheduled appointment, with significant risks to Hassan’s physical and mental wellbeing.
The failure to provide hospital appointments is a recurrent feature of Hassan’s mistreatment in Jau Prison. Hassan is currently suffering from an ear infection stemming from injuries sustained when he was tortured during an interrogation several years ago. To date, officials have cancelled up to ten of his appointments with an otolaryngologist due to his refusal to attend in humiliating shackles.
Hassan has also been repeatedly denied access to specialist to review his diabetes for over two years and has received his medication only sporadically since mid-2017. In January 2018, after being rushed to hospital with dangerously high blood sugar levels, Hassan was advised by a doctor to urgently consult a diabetes specialist; over a year later this visit has still not materialised. Finally, Hassan has ongoing issues with his prostate. While he regularly takes medication for this issue he has never been permitted to consult a specialist.
Last year, Hassan’s son, Ali Mushaima, staged a 44-day hunger strike outside the Bahraini embassy to protest his father’s treatment in Jau Prison. This week, he pledged to resume protesting if authorities did not immediately provide Hassan with the medical care he requires.
Hajer Mansoor Hassan
Hajer Mansoor Hassan, a mother in her fifties, has encountered similar obstacles when seeking medical care for ongoing health problems. After discovering a lump in her breast in August 2018, prison officials refused her an appointment till 24 February 2019. While the doctor reassured her that the lump was not cancerous, he advised her to seek further examinations. To date, Isa Town Prison authorities have failed to provide her with either a follow-up appointment or the medical report confirming that the lump is not cancerous. Furthermore, Hajer was recently diagnosed with kidney stones and uterine fibroids. Once again, prison officials have failed to organise follow-up appointments to treat these sensitive and painful conditions.
Bahrain has been repeatedly criticised by international organisations including the UN, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International for its failure to provide appropriate medical treatment to political prisoners.