JNN 03 Oct 2012 Manama : A young Shia Bahraini Pro Democracy activist jailed for taking part in anti-government protests last year was declared dead by the Authorities who was in custody for treatment of a hereditary disease, the interior ministry said.
The interior ministry said on Twitter than Mohammed Mushaima, who was serving a prison term, was pronounced dead at a government hospital, where he was admitted on August 29 “for treatment from sickle-cell anaemia.”
The major Bahraini opposition bloc Al-Wefaq confirmed Mushaima’s death, saying he “passed away in custody today (Tuesday) while serving a seven-year sentence for participating in pro-democracy demonstrations.”
Jailed Bahraini activist Mohammed Mushaima has died in custody while serving a seven-year sentence for participating in anti-regime demonstrations.
The 24-year-old opposition activist was pronounced dead at a government hospital in the capital, Manama, on Tuesday, AFP reported.
But Bahrain Society for Sickle Cell Anaemia Patient Care Zakreya Ebrahim Alkadhem criticised the treatment of Mr Mushaima, who leaves behind a wife and infant daughter, while he was in custody.
“He had been arrested last year for his alleged role in a demonstration at the Bahrain Financial Harbour, but he was in hospital at that time,” he said.
“He was tried by the military court following the unrest and jailed for seven years and we had been pressing for his release.
“We managed to lobby for him and had him transferred to SMC where he was being treated.”
Sickle-cell anaemia, a genetic disorder in which red blood cells form an abnormal sickle shape, is an inherited illness common in Bahrain where the marriage of close relatives is frequent.
Bahraini officials say he was suffering from sickle-cell anemia and that he was admitted to the hospital on August 29. Some reports, however, say Mushaima was martyred due to “torture and medical negligence” by the authorities.
Lawyers said they had asked the court earlier to release 24-year-old Shiite Mushaima due to his “bad” health, but the court rejected their request.
Several anti-regime activists deaths have been declared due to various illnesses while in custody over the past year and this has prompted Human Rights Watch to call for an investigation.
In September of last year, the authorities said a prisoner, whom the opposition claimed died after being tear-gassed, had passed away due to “acute respiratory” problems resulting from sickle cell anemia.
SHIA DOCTOR AND NURSES ARRESTED TO BEGIN JAIL TERMS
In another development, six Bahraini medics were jailed yesterday, a day after their conviction in connection with last year’s anti-regime protests were upheld by the kingdom’s highest court, lawyers said. The medics, who were on bail, were among 20 doctors and nurses who worked at the Salmaniya Medical Complex in Manama during the predominantly Shiite uprising against the kingdom’s ruling Wahabi dynasty in February 2011.
They include consultant orthopaedic surgeon Ali Alekri, who was sentenced to five years, and senior nurse, Ibrahim Damastani, who received three years. Both men were convicted of possessing a non-firearm weapon and of illegal assembly. The remaining four medics were found guilty of illegal assembly and inciting hatred, and were handed sentences ranging from two months to one year. Three other medics’ convictions were also upheld by the high court Monday, but so far there has been no news of their being taken into custody. All 20 were first charged and convicted by a quasi-military court formed in the aftermath of the government’s brutal crackdown on the protests in March 2011.
Many initially received harsh sentences of up to 15 years. Nine of them were acquitted by a lower appeals court in June. Many of the 20 medics – 15 of whom are doctors-alleged they were tortured in prison. Earlier this month, the public prosecutor’s office charged seven policemen with torture and maltreatment of the medics, all of whom are Shiite. The authorities say they are implementing the recommendations of an independent commission of inquiry ordered by the king that confirmed allegations of excessive use of force by security forces during the protests.
International rights groups continue to accuse the Gulf kingdom of failing to implement sufficient reforms.- Agencies
Thousands of people, mostly from the majority Shiite population, took to the streets last year to call for reforms in the kingdom ruled by the Wahabi Al-Khalifa dynasty. The kingdom has continued to witness sporadic demonstrations, mostly outside the capital, since it crushed the protest movement in a bloody crackdown in March last year.
Bahrain’s government has faced consistent criticism for its heavy-handed crackdowns on anti-government uprisings and reported abuses of political prisoners.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expressed concern at the detention of the six doctors and condemned the death on Tuesday of a 22-year-old prisoner jailed on false charges. Mohammed Mushaima suffered from a severe form of sickle cell disease and reportedly died after being denied adequate healthcare.
BAHRAIN HUMAN RIGHT’S WATCH
Bahrain’s ruling monarchy has also come under fire recently for refusing to release human rights activist Nabeel Rajab. The leading rights figure is currently appealing a three-year sentence for his participation in peaceful protests in support of democracy. He is being held in custody after his bail request was rejected on September 10.
Thousands have been arrested and put to military trial since the uprisings began a year ago. The country’s Shiite opposition is pushing for a transition to democracy and greater representation in the country’s Sunni government.
Despite Washington’s calls on Bahrain’s government to negotiate with the opposition clashes continue to erupt on a daily basis in the turmoil-afflicted nation.
Bahrain, which is home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, has been the scene of anti-regime protests since February 2011 and scores of people have been killed and hundreds more injured in the regime crackdown. Many others, including opposition leaders and human rights activists, have been also given long jail terms as part of the crackdown.