Bahrain: Concern Over Current Health Status of Imprisoned Opposition Leader and Former Cancer Patient Hassan Mushaima
Prison authority prevents Mushaima from commenting on the Public Prosecution Statement regarding his health conditions
29 Dec 2012
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its grave concern over the continued delay in providing proper medical treatment to the imprisoned opposition leader and former cancer patient Mr. Hassan Mushaima, whose cancer may have returned as doctors report having located another tumor. The BCHR is also concerned for the lack of transparency in providing Mushima, his family, and his lawyer with the latest results of his medical examination.
In 2010, Mr. Hassan Mushaima (65 years old) received cancer treatment for stage IV follicular lymphoma (a malignant cancer); he undertook 6 cycles of chemotherapy at the Royal Marsden hospital. In order to prevent the relapse of the disease, he was advised by doctors to take two injections of Rituximab on a monthly basis for two years (until January 2013). Since his arrest on 17 March 2011 in Bahrain, there has been no confirmed information that Mushaima has been provided with the required preventive medication while in prison.
Mushaima’s family stated that Mr. Mushaima was given unknown injections while in detention on three different occasions in 2011, while blindfolded and handcuffed, and without knowing the identity of the doctor or the name of the hospital in which he was located. Although his lawyer has requested a clarification on the treatment he received, as well as a copy of the medical report since August 2011, no clarification has been provided.
In October 2012, and after conducting scans for Mr. Mushaima, a doctor informed him that a tumor in his pelvis area had been observed and confirmed that it was cancer. Upon his repeated insistence and a call to the Red Cross, Mr. Mushaima was allowed to be examined by his personal doctor, who also confirmed the tumor’s existence, but added that further examination was needed for a more reliable diagnosis.
On the 4th of November, 2012, Mr. Mushaima was taken to the military hospital to have a biopsy and was told that the results would be available within ten days. No information about this biopsy has been provided to him.
On the 22nd of December 2012, Mushaima was taken from prison to have a surgery at the military hospital in order to get a sample of the tumour. He was not allowed to know the operating doctor. He was returned back to prison in the same day, and told that he will know the results within 2 weeks.
On the 25th of December, 2012, the Public Prosecution issued a statement
stating that “Mushaima is receiving complete and thorough health care since his arrest.” The Public Prosecution said in their statement that Mr. Mushaima was taken to the hospital for medical visits around 80 times since his arrest on the 17th of March, 2011, and alleged that he refused to take treatment "required for his condition”. It was also added that the recent surgery was arranged with Mushaima in advance.
When Mr. Hassan Mushaima tried to respond to the Public Prosecution’s statement during a phone call he made to his family, a prison officer interrupted the call, and ordered Mushaima to stop speaking on his condition by saying “it’s prohibited”, while Mushaima argued for his right to speak about his condition to his family, the phone call was disconnected. [YouTube Audio of Mushaia Phonecall - Arabic]
Mushaima’s family responded to the statement issued by the Public Prosecution with the following:
“Mushaima didn't refuse his treatment, he went three times to take the injections, but every time he went he was blind folded, handcuffed and put in this way for several hours, which is why he suspended going to the injections until humane treatment is provided. He was supposed to have an operation on November 4th, 2012, but it was cancelled for no reason. Only when the European MPs came to Bahrain and intended to visit the prison they told Mushaima that his operation will be after 2 days.”
The information on Mr. Mushaima’s health and the lack of transparency regarding his current medical state is a cause of serious concern. The lack of access to his medical reports concerning his actual condition, as well as the secrecy surrounding the doctors who are conducting the detainee’s surgery are not aligned with his rights a patient and as a prisoner. The public prosecution’s statement indicated a serious health condition for the 65 year-old detainee, as it seems that his condition requires approximately 4 medical visits per month. It is also worrying that he is not allowed to discuss his own health condition with his family.
The political opposition leader Mr Hassan Mushaima received a life sentence by a military court in June 2011, which was upheld in September 2012. During his detention, and despite his age and medical condition, Mr. Mushaima was subjected to extreme physical and psychological torture including direct blows to the body; sleep deprivation; drenching in cold water then placed under a cold air conditioning unit; verbal abuse; and threats to target his family for abuse and harassment. The torture he was subjected to has been confirmed in the BICI report , and Mr Mushaima has described this treatment in detail to the court that upheld the sentence against him in September 2012, despite the fact that no evidence was presented against him.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls for the immediate release of Mr. Hassan Mushaima as he is a prisoner of conscience who was imprisoned solely for practicing his right to freedom of speech. The BCHR demands that he be immediately provided with access to the necessary medical treatment that he requires, inside or outside of Bahrain, in order to avoid any further risk for his life.
The BCHR holds the Bahraini authorities responsible for the life of Hassan Mushaima and his well-being.