Bahrainís Image Hurt By Prison Reality, Brian Dooley
2017-04-07 - 3:56 p
Bahrain Mirror: Jailed in 2011 for life for discussing peaceful political reform by a monarchist elite fearful of change, Bahraini dissident Abdul Al Khawaja is living the brutality of Bahrain's Jau Prison, highlights Brian Dooley in an article published on The Huffington Post website. "He is one of a dozen or so leading dissidents held together in the notorious jail which houses hundreds more prisoners," notes Dooley.
Jau has long had an appalling record over overcrowding and abuse, stresses the Human Rights First senior advisor. "Recent reports emerging from Jau detail the targeting of prominent dissidents, including Al Khawaja. His family say he has been having serious problems with his right eye for over three weeks, but is being denied adequate medical care."
He further points out that families of the leading dissidents also say that all medical appointments and hospital visits have been cancelled, and letters of complaint are no longer answered. "In a sharp deterioration of conditions, say the families, the prisoners are now no longer allowed access to pencils or paper, and are only allowed outside their cells if they are handcuffed and chained from their wrists to their ankles."
The human rights defender thus adds, "you have to wonder at the insecurity of the Bahrain regime that it remains so fearful of the dissidents in Jau and their ideas."
Dooley underlines that Al Khawaja is in danger of losing sight in his eye but the authorities seem determined to punish him further. "In 2011 he was tortured and his jaw fractured. Since then virtually all other leading political opposition figures and human rights activists have either been forced out of Bahrain or sent to prison. Those who continue to speak up against the repressive regime, even from outside the country, risk having their families targeted in reprisals."
He further explains that the truth is that "Bahrain remains an unsteady, erratic monarchy ruled by a family that shuts its political opposition in jail and prevents peaceful activists from getting decent medical care." The rights activist goes on to say that official Bahrain state media does its best to mask the reality. "Its news agency featured a story recently about an art exhibition in the Gulf monarchy opened by ‘Her Royal Highness Princess Sabeeka bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, Wife of HM the King.' This reveals Bahrain's craving for international acceptance."
Concluding his article, Dooley states that it must be frustrating for the regime when its society's civilization isn't judged by its lavish art shows but by measurement of prison conditions. "Yet it's something it can easily fix," he stresses, calling on Bahrain to do that by releasing Al Khawaja and all those wrongfully detained and immediately provide all prisoners with adequate medical care.
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