Responding to news that unjustly jailed ailing academic and human rights defender Dr. Abduljalil al-Singace, who has been refusing solid foods for a year, has now decided to also abstain from health-stabilizing salts in protest at the prison authorities’ withholding some of his medication, Amna Guellali, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said:
“It is utterly outrageous to see how the Bahraini authorities have idly watched 60-year-old Abduljalil al-Singace’s health deteriorate as he goes through unnecessary suffering, over the past 365 days of his hunger strike, during which he consumed only liquids. He has been behind bars for over a decade solely for exercising his rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and should never have been jailed in the first place.
“Bahraini authorities must immediately and unconditionally release him. They must urgently ensure he receives all the medication he requires without delay, has access to adequate and timely healthcare and is protected from further torture and other ill-treatment.
“Bahraini authorities are continuing to punish Abduljalil al-Singace for his peaceful role in Bahrain’s 2011 uprising. Not only have they unjustly imprisoned him, but they also unlawfully confiscated a book he was writing, prompting him to start his hunger strike. His work should be immediately handed over to his family.”
Abduljalil al-Singace has served over a decade of his life sentence in Bahrain’s Jaw prison, where he has been subjected to torture and other ill-treatment.
On 8 July 2021, he started a hunger strike to protest the confiscation by prison authorities of a book on Bahraini dialects that he spent four years researching and writing. On 18 July 2021, authorities transferred him to the Kanoo Medical Centre, where he remains held, due to the deterioration of his health condition. On 29 June 2022, he announced that he would also stop taking salts which stabilize his health while abstaining from food to protest the authorities’ failure to promptly grant him his prescribed medication, including eye drops and analgesic creams for joint and muscle pain.
Abduljalil al-Singace suffers from multiple medical conditions, including severe intermittent headaches, a prostate problem, arthritis in his shoulder joint, tremors, numbness, and diminished eyesight. Authorities have not shared with him the results of an MRI scan of his shoulder taken in October 2021.
The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry reported in 2011 that following his arrest police had subjected Abduljalil al-Singace to nightly beatings for two months while placed in solitary confinement, targeted his disability by confiscating his crutches, making him “stand on one leg for prolonged periods”, pushing his crutch “into his genitals”, and “threatened him with rape and made sexually explicit comments about his wife and his daughter”.