Who is Hassan?

Hassan Mushaima’s son, Ali Mushaima, talks about his father

What am I accused of?

I was arrested [with others] in the 1990s because of [our] political speeches and because [we] demanded DEMOCRACY, EQUALITY and JUSTICE for the people of Bahrain, its sects and races. We remained in prison for around 6 years without trial and no charges were made against us. And instead of prosecuting those who deprived us of our freedom under that unjust “State Security Law,” there was talk of pardoning us, and the question remains, pardon for what?

I was arrested again in 2007 for a few hours for my political views and my blunt rights demanding speeches that upset the regime. Then, I was arrested again in 2009 for the same reason, along with others for demanding the rights of the people in what was known as “Masrahyat Al Hujairah= Al hujairah Play” that showed the government and its failure in framing others. 

In 2010, I was in London taking chemotherapy for lymphatic cancer. My treatment at first was at the expense of the health ministry (a right for every Bahraini citizen), but the ministry cut the funding in the middle of the treatment through a formal letter to my hospital. I received a copy from my hospital and published it at that time. When I got out of Bahrain I was not accused of anything, even one of the embassy employees visited me in the flat to pass the king’s greetings and to offer me a bag full of money, however, I declined and refused to accept it. Then I had some TV interviews, and in that time a framed terrorist cell was captured and I was accused of being in it, and if I had accepted the bag I would never have been accused.

Lastly, the events of February 14th started, and I was still in London to continue my treatment and I didn’t arrive in Bahrain until 26th February, 2011 and instead of considering February 14 as a representation of the will of the people and its feelings of injustice and its incidence to get its demands, we were accused of being behind all of what happened. All of my speeches and words were a representation of the people’s demands and it was patriotic, not sectarian, and it did not call for violence. 

A lot of my speeches had assertions not to change this peaceful movement to violence and even our statement of the republic did not contain any call for Islamic republic like all these hired writers were accusing us of. In it we asserted that people should continue with their peaceful demands. We did not order people to change to a republic, rather suggested it to them and only the people of Bahrain had the right to choose such a thing. And you can see my speeches, did they have anything but political views and political critique? And is that a crime to be imprisoned for, or is it rights that were bestowed by the heavenly religions and all the traditions have accepted it along with the international constitutions and the Bahraini constitution is one of them? So where is the fairness and justice?

*These words were spoken by Hassan Mushaima at the Supreme Court of Appeal on May 29, 2012.

Hassan Mushaima was born in 1948 in the village of Jidhafs, in Bahrain. In 1968, he graduated from the Teachers Institute and continued his studies by joining the University of Bahrain. Soon after his graduation, he became involved in cultural and social activism which led him to politics. His activities particularly intensified in the eighties, as he held educational courses and lectures on history, religion and politics. In 1984, he was elected director of the Jidhafs Cooperative Society. 

Hassan Mushaima’s political activism lead him to play an important role in organising and calling for the elite petition in 1992 which asked the Emir of Bahrain ro reactivate the Constitution of 73. He also further contributed to organising and advocating for a popular petition in 1994 calling for democracy in Bahrain. 

1995 marks the year of his first arrest for his participation in democratic demonstrations. His arrest was part of a crawdown by Bahraini authorities on all the leaders of the democractic demonstrations that took place earlier that year. He was released in September 1995 under the false pretences of a dialogue between the Bahraini government and the opposition to solve the political crisis. He was again detained by Bahraini authorities from January 1996 to February 2001 without a trial due to his political stance and rhetoric. 

After his release in 2001, he co-founded the Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, a Shi’a political party, and was elected as the Deputy Secretary General for two terms from 2002 to 2006. In 2002, during the country’s first parliamentary elections since 1973, Hassan Mushaima and al-Wefaq called for a boycott of Parliament due to the system’s failure to fulfill its commitment to the Constitutional Decree. At the end of this last term, Hassan Mushaima withdrew from the party to establish and lead the Al-Haq Movement with several other figures from al-Wefaq. The mostly Shia movement is most notably known for opposing participation in parliamentary elections as they considered the 2002 Constitution to be illegal and unilaterally imposed by King Hamad.  Both political associations were dissolved by the Bahraini government in 2016 and now operate clandestinely. 

Hassan Mushaima was arrested a third time in 2007 along with human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja due to their speech in Manama that took place on the night of Ashura. Thanks to widespread popular protests, they were released on the same day. His fourth arrest happened two years later on charges of incitement. Once again, it was followed by widespread protests which ensured his release in April of 2009.  

While in London in 2010 for medical treatment, an arrest warrant was issued against him after he and other leaders were accused of founding an organization seeking to change the regime. His son was also arrested in Bahrain and financial support by the Bahraini government for his chemotherapy was withdrawn. 

In February 2011, Hassan Mushaima returned to Bahrain at the beginning of democratic protests and was received by thousands of followers at the Pearl Roundabout. In March, he announced a coalition including the Al-Ahrar, the Al-Wafa and Al-Haq Movement calling for the overthrow of the authoritarian monarchy and the establishment of a democratic republic. Days after the Saudi military arrived in Bahrain to suppress the protests, he was once again arrested and sentenced to life in prison, as  part of the Bahrain 13, a group of prominent dissidents. He is currently serving his sentence. 

Visit the timeline of political and personal events for more information.