Prisoners' Hunger Strike: Crisis Deeper than Just Detention Conditions

2023-08-11 - 2:47 p

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): We enter the fifth day of the hunger strike launched by hundreds of political prisoners in Bahrain, to demand the release of other detainees held in the harshest isolation prison, also calling for basic human rights, such as opening cell gates and improving food quality, protesting the ill-treatment, and prevalent policy of medical negligence and deaths of sick prisoners.

Politically, this strike is an indication of the fact that there is an unresolved political crisis due to the government's refusal to hold a dialogue with the opposition, and its insistence on continuing the option of repression and violations.

There are more than 1,300 prisoners of conscience in Bahrain, some of whom die from diseases and gross medical negligence, the last of whom was youth martyr Mohammad Al-A'ali.

The government failed to adhere to the programs it announced such as alternative punishments, open prisons, and restorative justice for children. It excluded political prisoners, even the young ones who were arrested when they were children, hence the situation worsened and the Ministry of Interior became stricter in dealing with prisoners.

Returning to the strike, its difficult effects began to appear on the detainees, who are already suffering from poor care and facing difficult conditions, as dozens of them fainted as a result of fatigue.

Human rights activist Ibtisam Al-Saegh pointed out that the strikers fainted due to the drop in sugar levels that ranged from 2.4% to 3.6%, and stressed that this raised fear for their lives.

The detainees' families joined their sons. Mother of detainee Mohammad Al-Dakkak, an elderly woman, announced in a video starting a hunger strike in solidarity with her son and the rest of the detainees, saying: "We cannot live normally seeing our children hungry and suffering."

The hunger-striking detainees were able to send audio messages that were made public on social media outlets, announcing the reasons for their hunger strike and their desire to obtain legitimate human rights that the authorities deny them.

The fourth day of the strike marked the passage of a full year spent by 14 political detainees in the extremely harsh isolation prison. Despite appeals and demands, the government insists on continuing to punish them, and refused to end their isolation, although the families of these prisoners explained the harsh conditions they suffered in this prison, which far exceed what prisoners endure in their cells. Prisoners are chained at all times, repeatedly beaten and insulted, not allowed to be exposed to the sun, and not well fed.

Prisoner Mohammad Al-Khor sent a painful message of reproach from inside the prison, in which he called on the people to declare solidarity with the prisoners in their plight. A number of citizens responded to the call, as more than one march were held in solidarity with the detainees, voicing their support for their demands, and expressing devotion to their cause. The demonstrators further demanded the prisoners' release.

Meanwhile, there was no response from the government, and the prison administration has not yet accepted the launch of a dialogue with prisoners to discuss their demands. The detainees have not been removed from their place of imprisonment, and only one source from the Ministry of Interior spoke to the Associated Press claiming that the prisoners are well treated and well fed.

A delegation from the Public Prosecution visited the hunger-striking detainees and recorded their demands, in what seems to be a usual attempt to circumvent the demands and gain time in the face of this widespread strike, which confirms and reminds the world of one thing, that Bahrain suffers a humanitarian tragedy and an ongoing political crisis.

Arabic Version