MANAMNA (Dispatches) – A prominent imprisoned Bahraini opposition figure has lost 10 kilograms during the first three weeks of a hunger strike, a family member said on Friday, as rights groups called for his release and the return of a confiscated manuscript he had written.
Abduljalil al-Singace was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2011 alongside a number of other activists and opposition leaders for their roles in an uprising in the Persian Gulf island state. Singace, who also staged a 10-month hunger strike in 2015-2016, has refused food since July 8, demanding better treatment and the release of 12 confiscated notebooks, which his family says hold the manuscript of a book on Arabic dialects.
“He resorted to a hunger strike as the last means to end the degrading treatment,” the family member said, adding the 59-year-old’s voice had weakened and relatives were concerned about his mental health. Bahrain’s government, in response to a request for comment, said Singace’s documents had been “confiscated during an attempt to smuggle them from prison in breach of the established procedures and rules”.
Singace would not stop his hunger strike until his demands were met, the family member said, noting that he had maintained his previous hunger strike for 313 days.
Western-allied Bahrain has come under pressure from human rights organizations over prison conditions including overcrowding, poor sanitation and lack of medical care.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur, Amnesty International and Human Rights watch among others have called for Singace’s release.
Around 100 global academics signed a petition this week calling for Singace’s release and the return of his manuscript. Separately, 16 human rights groups including Amnesty International, Scholars at Risk, the Persian Gulf Centre for Human Rights and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) also issued a statement with similar demands.