Amnesty International has blasted Bahrain for denying vital medical care to jailed pro-democracy activists, saying the cruel and inhumane practice is putting the prisoners’ lives at risk.
The London-based rights group said on Monday that Bahraini authorities have for over a year deliberately subjected four elderly prisoners of conscience, Hassan Mushaima, Abdel-Jalil al-Singace, Abdel-Wahab Hussain and Abdel-Jalil al-Miqdad, to ill-treatment.
Lynn Maalouf, Middle East research director at Amnesty International, called for the swift release of the four men, who are “frail and suffering the severe debilitations that come with serious chronic illnesses such as hypertension and diabetes.
“That anyone can bring themselves to treat people with such cruelty is unbelievable,” she said, adding that the activists “have been imprisoned solely for taking part in peaceful protests.”
“They should not have been arrested, tried or imprisoned in the first place, let alone continue being subjected to this ill-treatment that is now endangering their lives. They must be released immediately and unconditionally,” she further said.
The four men were put on unfair trial for leading the 2011 peaceful anti-regime protests and sentenced to life in prison.
Maalouf also complained that the Bahraini authorities’ treatment of the activists “violates international law and standards on prisoner treatment and constitutes cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.”
Since February 2011, Bahraini people have been holding peaceful protest rallies on an almost daily basis, demanding that the Al Khalifah family relinquish power and let a just system representing all Bahrainis be established.
Bahrainis have also been complaining against widespread discrimination against the Shia majority in the kingdom.
Manama has responded to the demonstrations with lethal force, killing scores of people and arresting hundreds more.
Bahraini authorities have further detained human rights campaigners, broken up major opposition political parties, revoked the nationality of several pro-democracy activists and deported those left stateless.
Additionally on Monday, Ali, Hassan Mushaima’s son, raised alarm about his father’s health condition.
“They are killing my father slowly, because when you are denying a 70-year-old man his medicine, his body will not take it,” he told Reuters.
Ali Mushaima has been on hunger strike outside the Bahraini embassy in London since August 1 in an attempt to draw attention to his father’s plight.
He said his father suffered from high blood pressure, diabetes and a urinary tract infection and needed regular check-ups after being treated for cancer several years ago.
“I have lost five kilos. I am drinking, but I am not eating. My demand is very simple … I am talking about medical care, family visits and access to books,” he pointed out.
Ali Mushaima further criticized the U.S. and British governments for not pressuring Bahrain over its crackdown on dissent, saying London is “indirectly” responsible since it “trained the Bahraini police officers and provided technical assistance” only to boost the campaign of suppression.