Political prisoner Dr Abduljalil AlSingace, who has entered his 42nd day on hunger strike in Bahrain, has now lost 18kg and is complaining of harassment by guards at Kanoo Medical Centre where is currently staying for monitoring, the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) stated today.
According to information provided to BIRD by a family member, Dr AlSingace’s condition has deteriorated since he began his hunger strike on 8 July. He has been removed from an IV drip due to problems it was causing to his veins, which has been causing him pain.
Dr AlSingace has informed the family that he is having difficulty sleeping due to the constant presence of guards in his room, who frequently disturb him. Dr AlSingace suffers from post-polio syndrome, requiring crutches or a wheelchair for movement and in his weakened state poses no flight risk. Nonetheless, guards are stationed in his room 24 hours a day and he has demanded they be reposted outside his room.
His family has also complained that Dr AlSingace is not being granted regular family visits; while other inmates receive biweekly visits, he is usually permitted just once a fortnight. Guards also harass him during telephone calls with his family, cutting his calls shorts and occasionally cutting his calls with members of his family.
Despite the mistreatment, Dr AlSingace has informed his family that he remains resilient and will continue his protest until his demands are met. Dr AlSingace launched his hunger strike to protest against inhumane prison conditions and to demand that a book which he wrote in prison, to which he dedicated at least 4 years of research, be returned to his family. He is currently serving a life sentence at Bahrain’s Jau Prison for his peaceful role in Bahrain’s 2011 pro-democracy uprising during the Arab Spring.
Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Director of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, commented: “Dr AlSingace’s rapid loss of weight and the harassment he is being subjected to at the medical facility are deeply alarming. He is a respected academic who should never have spent a moment in prison and it is an outrage that he has been reduced to starving himself simply to secure the return of his research. Bahrain should immediately meet Dr AlSingace’s demands and order his unconditional release.”
US State Department Response
In response to his oral question, he received a written response attributed to the spokesperson for the US State Department (see below):
We take any allegation of mistreatment of detainees seriously and we have been clear in engagements with Bahrain and globally that engaging in peaceful protests and activism should not be the basis for prosecution.
While we appreciate the steps the Government of Bahrain has already taken to address some human rights concerns, we will continue to urge Bahrain to ensure that fair trial guarantees are respected and detainees are treated humanely.
We regularly raise these types of human rights issues with the Government of Bahrain, including concerns over the treatment of specific detainees and convicts, as the need for political reform, and the right to freedom of expression for all. Additionally, we have established a formal human rights dialogue with the government as a forum for regular discussion of issues of concern.