Rights groups demand Bahrain release opposition figure on hunger striketaking

Activist groups on Friday urged Bahrain to release a key opposition figure who has been on a hunger strike for “assault” since July 8.

Sixteen organizations, including Amnesty International and the Bahraini Institute of Rights and Democracy (BIRD), called on Bahraini authorities to release Abduljalil al-Singace, who is serving a life sentence for his involvement in a 2011 uprising.

Singace launched his hunger strike “in response to the humiliating treatment he received from a prison guard, to protest the restriction on calling only five numbers during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, and to demand the return of his book.” demands, seized by prison guards on April 9, 2021, and which he has been working on for at least four years,” they said in a joint statement.

They said the book by Singace, an academic and blogger, was about linguistic diversity in Bahraini Arabic dialects and had no political content.

“We call for the immediate and unconditional release of al-Singace and for his work to be handed over to his family immediately,” they added.

The statement also said the 59-year-old suffered from chronic illnesses and had suffered “persistent medical negligence”.

Bahrain denies assault allegations

A spokesman for the Bahraini government denied allegations of assault and said Singace was receiving good medical care.

“To date, he is fully conscious and his internal organs are healthy and stable,” the spokesman told AFP on Friday.

The spokesman said Singace had been repeatedly advised by doctors to end his hunger strike “until a legal decision is made over his” work, which the government says was seized while being smuggled out in violation of prison rules.

Singace was one of 13 activists who took part in anti-government protests a decade ago and were convicted on charges including “setting up terror groups to overthrow the regime”.

He was a key member of the Shia opposition movement Haq.

Since the Shia-led insurgency in the Sunni-ruled kingdom, which was crushed with Saudi military support, Bahrain has banned opposition parties and arrested dozens of activists, sparking international criticism.

Bahrain has alleged that Iran trained and supported the protesters to overthrow Manama’s government – an accusation Tehran denies.

The kingdom rejects accusations of human rights violations and denies discrimination against its Shia citizens.


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