Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Bahraini Prime Minister, may not be willing to stain his reign; however, the first stain has already made its mark. The European Parliament's unanimous condemnation of human rights violations in Bahrain on March 11 was the first move tainting his era.
The second stain is taking place now in Jaw Central Prison, with reports on the spread of Coronavirus among political prisoners. The Ministry of the Interior remained silent and has only admitted to 3 positive cases. The official data indicates; however, a larger number. The families of inmates were able to document at least 10 existing cases through the personal number verification service on the Ministry of Health website. 7 cases were not announced by the Ministry of Interior, while the rapid news shows that the number is double amid the silence of prison officials and their "suspicious" refusal to respond to the calls of the prisoners' families.
How would this issue develop? Only the next few days will tell us. It will tell us a lot, not about the fate of the Coronavirus patients in Jaw prison alone, but about the fate of an era that has barely started. Until a few weeks ago, the young prime minister was optimistically talking about the advantage of the open prison experience and instructing officials to begin implementing the alternative penal code. Nonetheless, none of this happened.
Instead, we are facing a humanitarian catastrophe that is about to take place in Jaw Prison, where thousands of citizens have been serving long prison sentences since 2011 for participating in peaceful protests and expressing their opinions, and where the deadly virus has spread now. Will the prime minister start his first year by piling up the corpses of dissidents coming out of Jaw prison? Hopefully, the answer will not be: yes.
The new prime minister has not addressed the political problem that has been ongoing since 10 years ago during his first 100 days in office. He seemed optimistic that he would be able to fulfill economic and "health" promises to fight Coronavirus. But it won't take long before he finds out that this is impossible. Public debt is not controlled, as the IMF predicted that Bahrain's double deficit will continue in the medium term, with public debt rising to 155% of GDP by 2026. Meanwhile, Coronavirus precautions were not able to contain the pandemic as positive cases have increased in recent weeks, including deaths. This week, we found out that Jaw prison has become an epicenter of the pandemic.
If Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa wants a magic key to a successful era, he has to take into consideration the European Parliament's resolution that was issued on Bahrain last week and begin to address its causes. However, if he wants to start his era with the existing problems, he has to brace himself for failure.