Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls for the implementation of the demands of hundreds of political prisoners who have been on hunger strike since August 7, 2023 in Jaw Central Prison, in which many prisoners have gradually joined in support of these demands, as the number of those who joined the strike inside prisons exceeded 730 prisoners. Accordingly, the BCHR expresses its deep concern for the safety of all detainees, especially after many cases of fainting were recorded among them due to a decrease in the level of sugar in the blood as a result of the strike. Sources from inside the prison confirmed to Bahrain Center that the prison administration deals with fainting cases slowly and delays in providing first aid and transferring them to medical centers.
The strike comes as an objection to the “harsh conditions of detention” that most prisoners suffer from, “including their detention in cells for twenty-three hours a day, and allowing them to go out to the sun and fulfill their needs for only one hour, in addition to the harsh conditions of visits, including: the glass barrier and not allowing visits by family members.” Prisoners who are not first-degree relatives such as uncles, uncles, etc. Prisoners are also denied the provision of appropriate medical care and access to continuing education, in addition to being denied the freedom to perform religious rites, including the commemoration of Ashura, and not to open mosques at all times of prayer. In addition, the center has monitored many cases inside the prison that are exposed to violations, denial of rights and medical neglect, including what happens with the prominent human rights activist Abdul Hadi Al-Khawaja, the prisoner Habib Al-Fardan who has a brain cancer, the 60-year-old prisoner Mohammed Hassan Al-Raml, and other cases.
In solidarity with them, a number of BCHR members participated in a hunger strike for twenty-four hours in solidarity with the demands of the striking prisoners. From inside the prison, the prominent detained human rights activist, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, joined the prisoners’ hunger strike on August 9, despite his deteriorating health condition. Likewise, the detained opposition figures (Sheikh Ali Salman, Sheikh Abdul Jalil Al-Miqdad, Mr. Abdul-Wahhab Hussein, Sheikh Muhammad Habib Al-Miqdad, Sheikh Saeed Al-Nouri, Sheikh Abdul Hadi Al-Mukhudhar, Sheikh Mirza Al-Mahrous, Mr. Muhammad Ali, Sheikh Hassan Issa) participated in the battle of the empty stomach on August 16 They refused to eat their meals in solidarity with the detainees and their just demands.
Many prisoners go on hunger strike each time as a means of pressure in order to obtain their demands, in light of the official disregard of these demands most of the time. What is happening with Mr. Hassan Mushaima, who has been on solid food strike for two years and is isolated in the Kano Health Center, is the best proof of that. Bahrain Center has repeatedly expressed its concern for the safety of prisoners and urged pressure on Bahrain to improve prison conditions, stop violations and release all prisoners of conscience.
Commenting on the strike, the US State Department said Thursday, August 17, 2023: “We are aware of and concerned about reports of hunger strikes in Jaw Prison for Reform and Rehabilitation,” and indicated that human rights issues were raised with Bahraini officials.
Hence, we must point out that the violations committed against prisoners and depriving them of their rights violate international human rights law, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (both of which Bahrain has signed) and the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Protection of Prisoners from any form of detention or imprisonment.
According to the basic principles of the United Nations regarding the rights of the prisoner, all detainees must be treated with what is necessary except for their inherent dignity and worth as human beings. No discrimination may be made between prisoners on the basis of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political opinion or respect, national or social origin, wealth, birth or any other status. The religious beliefs and cultural principles of the group to which prisoners belong must be respected, whenever local circumstances so require.
The Director of Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Nedal Al-Salman, expresses her deep concern for the safety of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, and calls on the official authorities to consider the humanitarian conditions of prisoners in an emergency.
Accordingly, Bahrain Center calls on the United Nations and countries allied to Bahrain to put pressure on the government to:
- Take urgent measures to save prisoners from medical negligence and provide the necessary medical care for patients.
- An urgent response to the detainees’ demands to stop their strike and protect them from the danger that might befall them as a result of the strike.
- Allowing UN rapporteurs to visit prisons and meet affected prisoners to convey their demands to obtain their rights.