2021 Panorama: Detained Academic Dr. Abduljalil Al-Singace Completes 177 Days of Hunger Strike, Authorities Ignore His Demands
2023-10-06 - 2:07 م
Bahrain Mirror (2021 Panorama): In July 2021, detained academic Dr. Abduljalil Al-Singace went on an open hunger strike in protest against the confiscation of one of his researches by an official in Jaw Prison and the continuous mistreatment he is subjected to, as the prison's administration refuses to provide him with the necessary rubber attachments he needs for his crutches, in addition to the many restrictions imposed under the pretext of countering the spread of the Coronavirus, such as limiting prisoner calls to only five.
The confiscated research which he spent 4 years to prepare is a study on the language diversity between the Arab and Bahraini dialects and includes no political content. Al-Singace had given it to one of his prison mates upon his release to hand over to his family. However, the prison guards, under the supervision of officer Mohammad Yousif Fakhro, who is responsible for the building, where all the 13 opposition leaders have been held since 2013, building 7, confiscated the research while searching the prisoner.
All of Al-Singace's appeals, he had made through typical means and through writing over a period of 3 months, addressed to Mr. Mohammad Yousif Fakhro for restoring his research failed.
Fakhro also refused, in an unjustified harsh measure, to replace the rubber safety attachments installed at the ends of his crutches with new ones, which he permanently needs to aid in his walking since he suffers from post-polio syndrome. These rubber attachments erode and become slippery upon usage, causing unbearable pain in his back and neck, making it difficult for him to move as it increases the risk of slipping and falling. Al-Singace remained without them for months.
On July 18, 2021, Al-Singace was transferred to the infirmary affiliated with the Interior Ministry to monitor him and to intravenously feed him. Meanwhile, lawyer Mohammad Al-Tajer announced that his client continues his hunger strike even after he was transferred to the hospital and was put under medical control. "The current strike led to a severe and dangerous decrease in his blood sugar levels due to Al-Singace's dependence on water only," he said. By July 29, Al-Singace had lost about 10 kg of weight as a result of his hunger strike.
On July 19, the public prosecution office referred his case to the Ombudsman of the Interior Ministry. The prosecution announced in a statement that his hunger strike was due to the Jaw Prison Reformation and Rehabilitation Department's refusal to allow him to call his relatives.
Meanwhile, prison officers were acquitted of committing any violation and Dr. Al-Singace was accused of "smuggling" his work. The prosecution said that Al-Singace could only restore his research after a "legal decision", insisting that he was not subjected to ill-treatment. This conclusion was reached without the testimony of Dr. Al-Singace because he refused to be interviewed by the Ombudsman.
Al-Singace's hunger strike received widespread local and international interaction. The US Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission said in a tweet on (August 4, 2021): "Al-Singace is a prisoner of conscience who should be freed immediately and without conditions." The commission's account retweeted a report by Reuters on the deteriorating health condition of Al-Singace.
29 MPs in the British House of Commons signed, on November 18, 2021, a motion to express solidarity with Al-Singace. "This House is deeply concerned by the ongoing hunger strike of 59-year-old human rights defender and academic Dr. Abduljalil Al-Singace in Bahrain," the motion said. The signatories called upon "the Bahraini Government to urgently secure the return of Dr. Al-Singace's research, and impose Magnitsky Act Sanctions on those responsible for his unlawful imprisonment."
Meanwhile, London-based Bahraini activist Ali Mushaima announced (November 23, 2021) launching a hunger strike and protesting in front of the Bahraini Embassy in London to express solidarity with Al-Singace.
By the end of 2021, Al-Singace had completed 177 days since his hunger strike began and was transferred to Al-Qalaa Hospital. The authorities continue to refrain from meeting his demands, particularly restoring his research.