Bahrain: Prisoners Continue Hunger Strike in Protest of Dire Conditions

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On 15 August, over 600 prisoners from Jau Prison and Dry Dock Detention Center began an open-ended hunger strike in protest of prison conditions ranging from denial of medical care to religious discrimination, physical abuse and isolation policies.

In violation of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Mandela Rules) Bahraini authorities have been denying medical care to many high-profile prisoners in urgent need of treatment.

A recent publication by Human Rights Watch highlighted cases on the denial of medical treatment including Hassan Mushaima, a septuagenarian prisoner who has been sentenced to life for his peaceful opposition actions and has been denied access to medication for diabetes and screenings for cancer. Also Dr. Abduljalil AlSingace, an academic and member of AlHaq, who suffers from post-polio syndrome and requires crutches to walk, who has been experiencing severe pains and complications due to torture and denial of medical care. These are only a few examples of many other cases of blatant denial of medical treatment by Bahraini authorities.

Bahraini prisoners have also complained that they are harassed during family visits (if they receive them) and are prohibited from practicing their religion or having access to religious books. In the cases of Hajer Mansoor, Najah Yusuf, and Medina Ali after requesting to participate in a religious commemoration, they were beaten. Ms. Mansoor was also denied medical treatment after finding a lump in her breast that she believed was cancerous.

In addition to physical and psychological abuses, political prisoners in Bahrain reported being held in small cells for over 23 hours a day, often in cells with people charged with other crimes, and who often do not share a common language, culture or religion.

The ongoing hunger strike has also been joined as of 1 September by Ali AlHajee who has documented the deteriorating prison conditions, physical and psychological abuses, as well as the denial of medical treatment and the increasing restriction on religious practice.

The European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) condemns the government of Bahrain’s continued denial of medical treatment to prisoners. The European Union must put pressure on Bahraini authorities to rectify the deteriorating situation for prisoners.