Rights Groups Urge US to Press for Prominent Bahraini Prisoner's Release

2022-01-18 - 9:04 م

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): Dozens of human rights groups have called on the US and other western governments to advocate for the release of prominent Bahraini opposition figure Abduljalil Al-Singace, who has been on a hunger strike in prison for nearly 200 days.

The letter was sent on Monday to the US State Department and called on the administration to raise concerns with Bahraini officials of Al-Singace's "inadequate medical treatment", as well as concerns over the confiscation of his research.

"The United States has claimed to be centering human rights in its foreign policy but they have yet to call for the release of Dr. Al-Singace," said Husain Abdulla, a Bahraini exile who founded Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB).

"This is a test case on how the US reacts to their closest allies when they infringe upon human rights. We will be judging these commitments through actions and not words."

The letter was sent by ADHRB, the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (Bird), Amnesty International, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and 23 other groups.

A State Department spokesperson told Middle East Eye that it was aware of Al-Singace's situation and has "repeatedly raised the case with the government of Bahrain".

"We regularly raise human rights issues with the government of Bahrain, including concerns over the treatment of prisoners and detainees, fair trial guarantees, and the need for transparency and accountability in legal proceedings," the spokesperson told MEE.

In addition to rights organizations, a number of prominent US lawmakers have also called on the Biden administration to raise its voice about the case of Al-Singace, and to further consider using the Global Magnitsky Act or other sanctions against members of the Bahraini government "responsible for serious human rights violations".

The groups also sent similar letters to the European Union, the UK, Germany, France, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Australia and Canada.

"It has been more than six months of persistent demands to the Bahraini government to return Dr. Al-Singace's research to his family," Sayed Ahmed Al-Wadaei, Bird's director, said in a statement.

"These calls have been met with deaf ears and it is now high time that leaders in democratic states, in particular Bahrain's closest allies, the UK and US, put pressure on Bahrain's highest authorities to alleviate Dr. Al-Singace's suffering and to prevent irreversible damage that may threaten his life."

British lawmakers, trade unions, NGOs, academics and lawyers came together to send a letter to UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss demanding that the government push Bahrain to release Al-Singace.

In a resolution passed last year, the European parliament also called for the unconditional release of the prominent Bahraini opposition figure, as well as other Bahraini activists who have been imprisoned by Manama.

Bahrain rejects allegations of human rights violations and denies discriminating against its Shia citizens, but last year the UN high commissioner for human rights accused Bahrain of being in "violation of international law" over its treatment of prisoners, some of whom are documented to be as young as 13 years old. 

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