Date of Arrest: 17 March 2011
Prison Sentence: Life
Torture: Sleep depravation, severe battery, sexual abuse, forced standing.
Health: Needs specialist health care. Previously diagnosed with cancer and requires surgical operation to treat a deviated septum in his nose.
Hasan Mashaima is a Shia cleric born in Jidd Haffs, Bahrain in 1948. His official political career began in 1991 when he co-founded the Shia-oriented political opposition party Al Wefaq. Hassan was one of the leading figures in the 1994 democratic movement that demanded political reform in Bahrain and until 2005, he also served as the Secretary General of the Haq Movement for Liberty and Democracy.
Since 1995, Hassan has been arrested several times for his pro-democratic activities. After serving his first sentence of six months imprisonment from March to September 1995, Hassan was again arrested and sentenced to five years in prison in January 1996. He was also arrested and imprisoned in February 2007 and again from January 2009 to April 2009.
In 2010, Hassan sought exile and treatment for stage IV follicular lymphoma, a malignant lung cancer, in the United Kingdom. Hassan responded well to the initial chemotherapy, but was still required frequent medical treatment and and bimonthly injections of a Rituximab, a drug used to prevent reoccurrence, progression, and death. When the Bahraini government dropped all charges against him, Hassan returned to a “rock star welcome” from his supporters and protestors at the Pearl Square roundabout in February 2011.
However, Hassan did not remain free for long. Just before dawn on 17 March 2011, armed forces broke down the door to his house. Masked men beat him and then proceeded to blindfold and handcuff him before taking him by car to an unknown location. Despite his advanced age and frail health, Hassan was subjected to all forms of insults, beatings, humiliations, swearing, water torture, guards spitting in his mouth and forcing him to swallow, being denied a shower for 10 days, and repeatedly being forced to stand for five hours or more. He was also drenched with cold water and then placed under an air conditioning unit, and subjected to sleep deprivation. Hassan has also been subjected to psychological torture: Bahraini authorities have told him that his cancer had returned as well as deliberately withholding his test results for months at a time. During his trial, Hassan was not permitted to testify, nor was his lawyer allowed to speak in his defense. He was sentenced to a life term in prison by a military court for “attempting to overthrow the monarchy.”
Despite the fact that his medical condition requires immediate attention, Hassan has been denied adequate medical treatment and the necessary checkups. After a period of seven months, he was finally taken to the hospital for a PET scan that revealed that he was suffering from deviated septum in his nose. Although the condition requires surgical operation, Hassan has not yet been treated.
Hassan Mashaima is known for his strong political stance and the great personal sacrifices he makes for the causes he believes in. While in prison, he had not been allowed any family visitors for a period of ten months, from February to December 2013, because the authorities claimed he was “refusing prison instructions” due to his refusal to wear a prison uniform. Hassan has stated that he believes that uniforms are only worn by criminals and to wear a uniform would be to admit culpability to the charges against him. Although locked behind bars, Hassan is still an outspoken political figure that remains a strong inspiration for the Bahraini opposition and pro-democracy movement.
Download Hassan’s card here.