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Bahrain: Urgent call for the release of Hassan al-Eskafi and consideration for his health condition

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Eskafi: victim of excessive force used at peaceful demonstrations

The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) condemns the violations carried out by the Bahraini regime against those calling for democracy and the right to self-determination. Among these violations is their denial of adequate healthcare to activists. Riot police arrested Hassan Mahdi al-Eskafi (27 years old) on Saturday 14 February 2015 in his home district of al-Bilad al-Qadim which, like other villages and towns in Bahrain, was the site of peaceful demonstrations to mark the fourth anniversary of the start of the popular movement in February 2011[1]. Eyewitnesses have reported that Eskafi was sitting by a cafeteria near to his home when he was subjected to beating that targeted his head. His head was also slammed into a wall at the time of his arrest. Eskafi has been prevented from contacting his lawyer and his relatives for a period of over 60 hours after arrest. He was subsequently able to get in touch with relatives and tell them that he had been transferred to al-hodh al-Jaf (Dry dock) detention center and would be held there for a week while an investigation takes place.

Hassan al-Eskafi (27) was injured in July 2011 by a direct bullet to the head[2] which shattered his skull and caused him to lose an eye. He was taken to hospital to receive treatment, and remained in the intensive care unit for 3 months before being investigated and arrested on charges of occupying Police Station Number 5. He was sentenced to 5 years in prison, but was subsequently acquitted and released[3]. After being taken to hospital abroad to receive further treatment, Eskafi has had 9 operations to create an artificial skull to replace his natural, smashed, skull. His family say that he frequently suffers seizures that cause him to lose consciousness for periods of 15 minutes at a time[4]. His relatives expressed their grave concern at the possibility of a further deterioration in his health condition while he is detained. He requires specialist medical treatment, and his family do not know whether the prison administration is giving him medication prescribed to him by his doctors or new medication. They are also uncertain as to whether he is being given medication regularly.

Archive image of Eskafi in hospital

Picture of one of Eskafi’s medical reports confirming his injury and describing his medical condition

Article 25 of the International Declaration of Human Rights stipulates that “every person has the right…to medical treatment.” Depriving prisoners of health and sufficient medical care is considered a clear violation of international law that vouchsafes the right to medical treatment even in times of war. In Bahrain this right is continually ignored – this led to the death of Mohammed Mashimaa, a 22-year-old prisoner of conscience. He had sickle cell disease, and the appropriate medical treatment was not available in prison. There are a large numbers of prisoners still deprived of their right to sufficient medical treatment in Bahrain’s prisons. This leads to health complications and engenders their health.

 

Based on the above, BCHR calls on the United States, the United Kingdom and the United Nations, as well as all other human rights groups and relevant international organisations to put pressure on the government of Bahrain to:

 

  • Offer sufficient medical care to Hassan Eskafi and all other detainees held in Bahrain’s prisons.
  • Release immediately and without restrictions Eskafi and all prisoners of conscience.
  • Put an immediate stop to the human rights violations, especially the right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.
  • Bring to account those responsible for violations, however high their position.
  • Pay fair reparations to the victims in line with their injuries.

 

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