About three weeks ago I wrote a blog post about Ali Mushaima and his hunger strike to achieve basic rights for his father Hassan Mushaima, a prisoner of conscience in Bahrain. If you want to know more about Ali’s father and Ali’s reasons for his hunger strike, then please read my previous blog post.
I would like to give you an update on his situation in the following post.
a) A few days after my first visit, on 30 August Ali Mushaima was rushed to the hospital, because of low sugar level, low body temperature and low blood pressure. It was the 30th day of his hunger strike. He was brought to St Thomas hospital Westminster. Ali was released after a few hours. The doctors urged him to break his hunger strike. Ali decided to spent one night at home to get a proper rest, but was back at Bahraini Embassy on the following day. He did not break his hunger strike.
b) On 4 September Ali got some significant support in his hunger strike. The prominent human rights defender Zainab Al-Khawaja joined him and went on hunger strike herself in solidarity with Ali.
Zainab is a daughter of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja another member of the Bahrain 13 who had been tried in this same trials as Ali’s father and had also been sentenced to life in prison. Zainab had been imprisoned several times herself. The last time she was arrested in March 2016 and was brought to prison together with her then 18 months old son Hadi. She had been sentenced to three years and one month in prison on the basis of several convictions including two charges for tearing up the picture of the Bahraini king. She was released on the 31 May 2016 after considerable international pressure and left Bahrain almost immediately because she was threatened with new arrests. Zainab lives now in Denmark in exile. When she heard about Ali’s hunger strike, she decided to come to London and join him.
c) On 11 September a debate took place at Westminster Hall with the title “Human rights abuses and UK assistance to Bahrain”. It was initiated by Andy Slaughter, Labour MP for Hammersmith. Several MPs specifically mentioned Ali’s father and supported Ali’s cause.. You can find the report which was the basis for the debate here. MPs of almost all parties were worried about the human right situation in Bahrain. The only members of parliament who defended Bahrain were the members of the Conservative Party. BIRD showed in an article about the debated that all three Conservative MPs who were supportive of Bahrain had received considerable donations from the Bahraini government in the past.
d) BIRD released a worrying statement about Ali’s state of health on the following day (12 September). They said that he had lost 16 kg (about 20% of his body weight) and that the doctors were
“alarmed for the “marked deterioration in his health and well-being”, and for the “acute consequences of his protest” which with “no doubt” will have “long standing implications”.
Numerous people asked Ali to stop his hunger strike to make sure that he would not seriously damage his health.
e) On 13 September 2018, after 43 days of hunger strike, Ali Mushaima made a statement at a press conference in front of the Bahraini Embassy. He said:
“After 44 days many friends have argued for me to end my hunger strike. I even received a message from Nabeel Rajab in prison. But what affected me the most was my father telling me how scared he was that there I was hospitalised. I will not end my hunger strike but I will start a liquid diet that will include soups. My body needs to recover but if my father’s basic rights are not met, which is full medical care, family visits and access to books, I’m ready to resume my full hunger strike not because it’s easy and not because it is life-threatening, but because I will never stop fighting for my dad and for our cause.”
Today (on 15 September) after 46 days of hunger strike Ali Mushaima ended his hunger strike.
I am very relieved that he decided to end his hunger strike. I am glad that his father received medication and that there was a cancer screening. Even so Ali told me that they are still waiting for the result of the screening after more than two weeks. The result should be available at the same day as the screening. I agree with him that the case has received considerable media attention and it is great that it received support from several MPs. I hope this attention and support will not die down before all basic rights are restored to his father.
f) I visited Ali yesterday evening at the Bahraini embassy. He is still there and he is still determined to fight for basic rights for his father. Ali said that he will stay at the embassy and will continue to sleep on this street for the time being, even so it is getting autumn and the nights are getting colder.
Let us make sure that his case is not forgotten and please continue to support him. Visit him at the Bahraini Embassy, 30 Belgrave Square, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 8QB. Please sign and share the petition. Have a look at my previous blog post for more ways to help him.
Please also write to your MP. You can easily do so using the “Write to them” form. Thomas Brake (Liberal Democrats, Carshalton and Wallington) started an Early Day Motion (EDM 1631) two days ago. The motion asks for an end of the degrading treatment of political prisoners in Bahrain, including Ali’s father. Please ask your MP to support this Early Day Motion and generally to speak up for prisoner of conscience in Bahrain.
I hope that many of you will continue to support Ali Mushaima and his father. Hassan Mushaima is a prisoner of conscience and he should be released, but I hope that the Bahraini authorities will at least grant Ali’s father the family visits and the access books. These are basic demands for every prisoner.