The Path to Freedom is Still Being Carved

By: Ragheb Malli

The beginning of time may have been the only time that the world witnessed peace. Since then, under the constant sky, the stars have looked down on wars erupting for greed, oppression for power, poverty for the rich. Graves and prisons erected to darken the lives of many innocent souls and silence their voices that were reaching the sky. Lest we forget Dr. Abdel-Jalil al-Singace, Hassan Mushaima and Shiekh Abdel-Jalil al-Miqdad amongst a sea of others withering away in the cells of Jau Prison.

Dr Abed-Jalil al-Singace was an active member of al-Haq movement, the unauthorized opposition group. Along with its leader, Hassan Mushaima, they were arrested between 17th March and 9th April 2011. Upon court verdicts, they now are serving life sentences. At the time, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Heba Morayef said, “Abdel-Jalil al-Singace and indeed the other prisoners of conscience, including Abdulhadi al-Khawaja and Hassan Mshaima, who were convicted solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly must be immediately and unconditionally released.” As we can still see today- they were not, but rather subject to added medical negligence, where al-Singace was denied medical treatment, “the denial of medical treatment to a seriously ill prisoner is shockingly cruel and puts his life in danger. It can also violate the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment,” Morayef stated in 2019.

The Early Day Motions tabled on the 5th of July, 2021 in the UK Parliament titled “Hassan Mushaima and political prisoners detained in Bahrain” has so far been signed by 5 members from the Labour party, the Independent party, the Scottish National party and the Alba party. The motion text included a statement about the conditions of Jau prison leading to two deaths already and 73-year old Mushaima, amongst others, are vulnerable and must be released. Also, it, “further condemns false assurances provided to this House [House of Parliament] by the UK Government regarding the provision of medical care to political prisoners in Bahrain; and calls on the Government to use all available leverage to press Bahrain for the immediate and unconditional release of all Bahraini political prisoners detained solely for peacefully exercising their right to free expression, association and assembly, with particular reference to political leaders with heightened vulnerability to novid-19, namely Hassan Mushaima, Abduljalil Al-Singace and Abdulwahab Husain.”

As for Sheikh Abdel-Jalil al-Miqdad, a prominent political leader and the founder of the opposition group Al Wafaa, he has been in prison since 2011. Common to many Jau political prisoners, he is constantly under subjugation of cruel torture and is serving a life sentence for expressing a peaceful opposing view. According to Lynn Maalouf, Middle East Research Director at Amnesty International, “Hassan Mshaima, Abdel-Jalil al-Singace, Abdel-Wahab Hussain and Abdel-Jalil al-Miqdad 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 continued her statement by saying, “that anyone can bring themselves to treat people with such cruelty is unbelievable. These men are elderly, frail and suffering the severe debilitations that come with serious chronic illnesses such as hypertension and diabetes.”

As they sit in their cells alongside many other innocent political prisoners hopelessly hopeful, the path for Bahrain’s freedom and civil rights is still being carved by the many they have inspired and set the way for.