Bahrain: Human rights defender and academic Dr. Abduljalil Al-Singace needs immediate medical care
Imprisoned human rights defender Dr Abduljalil Al-Singace, currently serving a life sentence in Bahrain, is suffering from mounting health problems. The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) calls for the authorities to provide immediate medical care, without any restrictions, and to release him from prison.
According to local reports, Dr Al-Singace has recently begun suffering from numbness in his fingers and his left hand shakes, in addition to having prolonged chest pain. He is unable to sleep due to the discomfort. In addition to having post-polio syndrome which requires him to use crutches to walk, he suffers from other health issues (vertigo, cervical disk herniation, spinal disc herniation) caused by the torture and ill-treatment to which he has been subjected since his arrest in March 2011. His crutches are worn out and he needs new ones.
Dr Al-Singace also has sickle cell disease which causes pain and fatigue, especially if the prison food is not suitable to combat the effects of the disease (for example, too many legumes are not good for him.) This has been reported to the Jaw Prison authorities as well as the Red Cross but nothing has been done to remedy the type of food provided.
Since February 2017, Dr Al-Singace was deprived of family visits, medical treatment, canteen visits to buy hygiene supplies, and all his books were confiscated, in part because he did not follow the rules to wear the prison uniform. But in March 2019 he was allowed to have family visits despite his refusal to wear the prison uniform or to be shackled when leaving his cell. He believes that he is not a criminal so he will not dress like one. However, the authorities refuse to take him outside the prison for medical treatment without the prison uniform and shackles.
This treatment is in violation of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Mandela Rules), specifically Rule 47, which states that “The use of chains, irons or other instruments of restraint which are inherently degrading or painful shall be prohibited.”
Dr Al-Singace is a blogger, engineer and academic who is a member of the Bahrain 13, a group of activists and human rights defenders (including Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja) who were arrested for their role in peaceful protests in 2011. A military court sentenced him to life in prison on 22 June 2011. The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry met with Dr Al-Singace in 2011 and collected testimony regarding his arbitrary arrest and torture; nonetheless in 2012 a civilian appeals court refused to investigate credible allegations of abuse and torture and upheld his sentence.
In addition, GCHR is concerned about poor conditions in Bahrain’s prison system. Currently, over 600 prisoners are on hunger strike in protest of degrading and inhumane prison conditions and ill treatment such as beatings by prison guards, restrictions on religious practices, cell raids and the use of prolonged solitary confinement. Prisoners also protested the use of glass barriers during family visits. The hunger strike started on 15 August 2019 by 15 prisoners in isolation and ballooned to over 600 prisoners of conscience in Jaw and Dry Dock Prisons. Supporters are asked to tweet solidarity photos and statements with #BahrainPrisonersStrike.
Take Action Now!
GCHR asks supporters of Dr Abduljalil Al-Singace to please tweet in English or Arabic calling on the authorities in Bahrain to:
- Immediately and unconditionally free Dr Abduljalil Al-Singace and all other human rights defenders from prison;
- While he remains in prison, allow Dr Abduljalil Al-Singace unhindered access to medical care, including immediately transferring him to the hospital without shackles; and
- Guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders in Bahrain are able to carry out their legitimate activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.