International Rights Groups & UK Lawmakers Show Solidarity with Hunger Striking Bahraini Political Prisoner Dr Abduljalil AlSingace

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  • Senior UK MPs call on Dominic Raab to demand Dr Abduljalil AlSingace be released from prison in Bahrain immediately;
  • International NGOs share messages with solidarity with Dr AlSingace, call for his release;
  • Dr AlSingace began a hunger strike on 8 July to protest mistreatment in Jau Prison.

 

International rights groups and UK lawmakers came together this week to show solidarity with Bahraini political prisoner Dr Abduljalil AlSingace, who has been on hunger strike since 8 July to protest ill-treatment the hands of prison guards and demand that a book which he wrote in prison, which was confiscated by prison authorities, be returned to his family, the Bahrain Institute of Rights and Democracy (BIRD) stated today.

Dr AlSingace is a renowned Bahraini academic, blogger and human rights defender serving a life sentence for his leading role in Bahrain’s pro-democracy movement during the Arab Spring. He suffers a range of chronic health issues including post-polio syndrome, requiring the use of crutches or a wheelchair. He launched his hunger strike 16 days ago in response to degrading treatment he was subjected to by Officer Mohammed Yousif Fakhro and to demand the return of a book he wrote in prison, to which he has dedicated at least four years of work.

By 17 July 2021 Dr AlSingace had already lost 7kg and was transferred a day later to an external hospital for monitoring. Recent outbreaks of COVID-19 reported at Jau Prison further exacerbate the threat to Dr AlSingace’s health.

Cross-party senior UK parliamentarians have spoken out in statements and on social media urgently calling on the Foreign Office to intervene for the respect of Dr AlSingace’s human rights and his release from prison. Conservative MP and Father of the House of Commons, Sir Peter Bottomley, joined 19 other MPs in supporting a motion condemning Bahrain’s mistreatment of Dr AlSingace, and calling on the government to “press Bahrain for [his] immediate and unconditional release”. The same demands were heard in a House of Lords debate on 15 July.

On 16 July, Labour MP Andrew Gwynne led an open letter, signed by former Green Party leader Nathalie Bennett, which stated “we abhor reports that Dr AlSingace continues to face protracted medical negligence at Jau Prison” and which asked Dominic Raab to “publicly call for Dr AlSingace and Hassan Mushaima’s immediate and unconditional release”. Gwynne went on to publish his own statement. Other parliamentarians have since come forward on social media to show solidarity with Dr AlSingace, including Shadow MENA Minister Wayne David MP, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Layla Moran MP and House of Lords member Lord Scriven.

A number of international NGOs also expressed solidarity with Dr AlSingace and called for his immediate and unconditional release, including Amnesty International and Scholars at Risk. Following the hospitalisation of Dr AlSingace after a deterioration in his condition, Amnesty noted in a tweet that “Two #Bahraini opposition activists #AbdulJalilAlSingace & #HasanMushaima have both been in hospital since 18 July”, adding that both men are “vulnerable and suffer from underlying health conditions” and should be “immediately and unconditionally” as “prisoners of conscience.”

Other NGOs publicly supporting Dr AlSingace in his hunger strike include English Pen, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain and the European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights. BIRD are encouraging supporters to show their solidarity with Dr AlSingace on social media using the hashtag #FreeAlSingace.

Background

Dr Abduljalil AlSingace was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2011 by a military tribunal for his leading role in Bahrain’s pro-democracy uprising during the Arab Spring. Following his arrest, he was subjected to brutal torture and was “sexually molested”, according to the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry. Since his imprisonment, he has suffered sustained medical negligence by prison authorities and lawmakers and rights groups from around the world have repeatedly urged Bahrain to release him.

He is a respected academic who received a PhD in Impact Mechanics from the University of Manchester Institute for Science and Technology (UMIST), now part of the University of Manchester, and previously worked as a lecturer at the University of Bahrain. In 2007, he was a 2007 Draper Hills Fellow at Stanford University’s Center on Democracy Development and the Rule of Law.

The book which has been confiscated is a study of linguistic diversity among Bahraini Arabic dialects, without any political content, yet has not been returned despite repeated promises by prison authorities. This month four United Nations experts published a letter they wrote to Bahrain which stated: “we conveyed our utmost concern the allegations of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment faced by […] Abduljalil Al-Singace” and Special Advisor to the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Brian Dooley, has called on Bahrain to “just give [Dr AlSingace’s book] back.”

Further Solidarity Messages

 

Take Action & Email Your MP to ask that they urgently raise the case of Dr Abduljalil AlSingace

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