Imprisoned Bahraini Scholar goes on Hunger Strike
In the aftermath of the November 2022 elections, which were deemed unfair and unfree by Human Rights Watch (HRW), the state of human rights in Bahrain continues to deteriorate. According to the HRW report, since 2016, the government has been restricting political opposition by using judicial review to dissolve major opposition parties and ban their members from political and civil society activities. Besides the use of legal means, the government is also suppressing freedoms of speech, assembly, and association, and using torture, detainment, unequal access to healthcare, invasive surveillance in order to suppress the opposition.
The Bahraini government has placed increasingly restrictive laws on freedom of speech and expression, including but not limited to terrorism laws that criminalize free speech. These restrictions target the independent media and others. Vaguely worded amendments and new legislations in 2019 and 2020 introduced harsher penalties and broader criteria for criminalizing freedom of speech and online activity. The government has also been implicated in a Citizen Lab’s report for targeting Bahraini activists with the spyware, Pegasus. Bahraini activists living abroad have been threatened and harassed, in some cases their families living in Bahrain were used as leverage to rescind their anti-regime speech.
The conditions of the political and civil society activists, scholars, and journalists in prison are abhorrent. According to the Bahraini and international human rights organizations reports and the reports of observers, many are denied access to basic healthcare, tortured, kept in isolation, and their claims of abuse by prison guards have not been investigated. In 2021, three detainees died in Bahraini prisons amid allegations of medical negligence. 2021 marked a decade of continued imprisonment of opposition leaders, including students, for their roles in the 2011 peaceful protests that rocked the country. Dr. Abduljalil Al-Singace is one of those imprisoned since 2011. He has been on a hunger strike since July 8, 2021. He began his hunger strike in response to the confiscation of his academic research materials by prison authorities. He has routinely been denied basic healthcare for his long-term poliomyelitis and his medications have been withheld while his health has continued to deteriorate in order to pressure Al-Singace into halting his hunger strike.
Endangered Scholars Worldwide is deeply concerned with the imprisonment, mistreatment, and surveillance of pro-democracy leaders and joins the signatories of the open letter demanding the immediate release of Abduljalil Al-Singace and all other imprisoned opposition leaders. ESW asks for the international community’s full attention and that all efforts be made to get the Bahraini government to honor their obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights treaties, including free and unhindered healthcare access to prisoners, the end of physical and psychological torture, and the revoking of the death sentences, as well as investigating reports of abuse.
(Last updated March 5, 2023)
Please send appeals to the following:
His Majesty Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa
Office of His Majesty the King
The Amiri Court
PO Box 555
Kingdom of Bahrain
Fax: +973 176 64 587
Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa
PO Box # 450
Kingdom of Bahrain
Fax: +973 175 13 333