Bahrain: Human rights defender Dr. Abduljalil Al-Singace on hunger strike to protest degrading treatment
On 08 July 2021, human rights defender Dr. Abduljalil Al-Singace, an academic and blogger currently serving a life sentence in Bahrain for his role in peaceful protests in 2011, informed family members that he would begin a hunger strike immediately to protest ill-treatment and harassment in Jau prison. The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) calls on the authorities to immediately free Dr. Al-Singace, and failing that, to provide immediate medical care and end his ill-treatment.
Dr. Al-Singace has repeatedly protested poor medical care, including the denial of rubber stoppers for his crutches, which he needs to walk due to post-polio syndrome. He has repeatedly fallen down since he suffers from vertigo, and the crutches are unstable. He said that in particular Officer Mohammed Yousif Fakhro has consistently denied all his requests and that the officer had confiscated his research more than four months ago, instead of handing it over to his family. A source told GCHR that Dr. Al-Singace “spent four years working on this and is distraught that it has been taken.” Prison management promised that the issue would be resolved, but have failed to do so thus far, leading to his decision to embark upon a hunger strike, refusing food and medications.
GCHR is further concerned about the spread of COVID-19 in Jau prison, as part of a spike in cases in Bahrain. Dr. Al-Singace said he will refuse to take the regular COVID-19 tests and will not take part in video calls with the family until his demands are met.
GCHR is concerned that Dr. Al-Singace’s already compromised health will suffer irreparably if he does not eat or take his medication. GCHR, other NGOs, United Nations experts and the European Union have previously issued numerous appeals for the authorities to provide proper medical care to Dr. Al-Singace, including in August 2019 when he suffered from numbness in his fingers, a shaking hand and prolonged chest pain. In addition to having post-polio syndrome and sickle cell disease, he suffers from cervical disk herniation and spinal disc herniation caused by the torture and ill-treatment to which he has been subjected since his arrest in March 2011.
Dr Al-Singace, a member of the Bahrain 13 (a group of activists and human rights defenders including Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja), was sentenced to life in prison on 22 June 2011.
GCHR repeats the calls made for Dr. Al-Singace’s freedom, including in February 2021 by the European Parliament, which adopted an urgent resolution calling "for the immediate and unconditional release of all human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience, including ... Dr Abduljalil Al-Singace."
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 including Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja from prison;
- While in prison, allow Dr. Al-Singace and all prisoners unhindered access to medical care and ensure they are not subjected to ill-treatment and abuse;
- Hand over Dr. Al-Singace’s research to his family; 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.