Bahraini dissident faces deportation from the UK despite torture fears

Ali Isa Hasan, who has depression and sickle cell anaemia, fled to Britain amid fears he faced imprisonment and torture

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The Independent Online

A seriously ill Bahraini dissident who fled to Britain to avoid a crackdown against Shia democracy campaigners faces deportation next week, despite concerns he faces arrest and possible torture if is returned to the authoritarian Gulf state.

Ali Isa Hasan, 26, who suffers from severe depression and sickle cell anaemia, fled to Britain in November 2011 amid fears that he faced imprisonment and torture for taking part in pro-democracy protest against the ruling al-Khalifa family.

He is set to be deported on Tuesday 10 November after the Home Office rejected his case and his solicitors exhausted the appeals process. Mr Hassan campaigned against the Sunni-dominated Bahraini government during an Arab Spring-inspired uprising in 2011 and has since become a vocal opponent of the ruling family's crackdown on dissent.

The campaigner comes from a “family of protest” and fled Bahrain two months after his father Mohammed, who lost his job as a university professor for taking part in the Arab Spring-inspired protests, step-mother, half-brother and half-sisters were all granted asylum after arriving in September 2011.

Officials in Manama have consistently denied allegations of torture and mistreatment of prisoners, but Amnesty International has documented numerous cases of torture and repression of freedom of speech, including the detention of a string of prominent opposition figures. Mr Hasan’s condition means that a single blow to his abdomen could be fatal, say his doctors.

“I will try to stay here, because If I go back to Bahrain they will throw me in jail. They beat my father for 10 days during the protest in 2011. I fear I will be tortured, like they already tortured my father,” said Mr Hassan, speaking to the Independent by telephone from Tinsley House immigration removal centre near Gatwick where he is being held. “I protested in Bahrain. I come from a family of protest and I have protested here and spoken at events in Parliament. They know who am I.”

Mr Hassan, who narrowly avoided deportation last month when a doctor was unable to accompany him on the flight, has been admitted to hospital four times during his stay in the UK and his doctors fear his life is at “even greater risk” if he faced deportation. 

His doctors also say that inconsistent testimony he gave when he applied for asylum could stem from his medical condition, the Middle East Eye reported.

Mr Hassan’s legal team has exhausted all avenues of appeal and the Home Office declined to consider a report of his mental health that was submitted after a court deadline. “It is incredibly unusual for the Home Office to seek to return a democracy campaigners to Bahrain, particularly given the circumstances of this claimant and his medical issues and the history of his family’s application. All the circumstances lead to the conclusion that he will be persecuted on his return to Bahrain,” said his solicitor Leqa al-Habib.

Mr Hassan added: “I’m not just here for a job or health care. I came here in 2009 to study and went back home straight afterwards. I never thought I would be here for asylum. It just happened. I’m counting the days before I go to jail in Bahrain. I don’t know what to do.”

Home Office figures show that just one Bahraini has been forcibly returned to the country in the last three years, and just seven since the uprising in 2011, but campaigners say this case is an example of the British government “failing to meet its humanitarian obligations.”

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, director of advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, said: “Under no circumstances should asylum claimants under the slightest risk of torture or ill treatment be forcibly deported back to Bahrain, a country infamous for torture.”

A Home Office spokesperson said it does not routinely comment on individual cases. They said: “The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who genuinely need it and every case is carefully considered on its individual merits.“

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