On Wednesday, 29 July 2015, the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, English PEN and Index on Censorship gathered outside the Bahrain Embassy in London to protest the ongoing detention of Dr Abduljalil Al-Singace.
Dr Abduljalil Al-Singace is a prominent academic and blogger who promoted human rights in Bahrain throughout the 2000s. Police arrested Dr Al-Singace for his participation in the peaceful Arab Spring protests in 2011. During his initial detention, security officials subjected Dr Al-Singace to torture and ill-treatment, including forced standing, verbal and sexual assault, beatings, and prolonged solitary confinement. He was tried by a military court in June 2011 and sentenced to life in prison for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government.
On 21 March 2015, Dr Al-Singace began a hunger strike in protest of the ill-treatment of inmates and the poor, unsanitary conditions at Jau Prison. Dr Al-Singace has now completed 132 days of hunger strike.
At the solidarity protest, BIRD associates read out extracts from the testimony of Dr Al-Singace, as documented in the Report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), which called on the government of Bahrain to respect its obligations under international law and to free Dr Al-Singace. English PEN spoke about restrictions on freedom of expression and called on Bahrain to safeguard freedom of expression. The organisations also called on Bahrain to investigate allegations of torture in Bahrain’s prisons and called for urgent medical attention for Dr Al-Singace.
Dr Al-Singace suffers from post-polio syndrome, heart, eye, and sinus problems, and requires urgent nasal and ear surgery. Prison authorities have denied Dr Al-Singace the specialist medical treatment that he urgently needs. He is currently being detained at the Al-Qalaa Hospital and is not permitted to go outdoors. He is also being denied access to novels, religious texts, television, radio, and pen and paper for writing. Dr Al-Singace was not even permitted a condolence visit when his nephew died.
In June 2015, BIRD, English PEN and Index on Censorship launched a social media campaign for Dr Al-Singace – #singacehungerstrike – alongside a number of other NGOs and the University College Union. We are also continuing to call on our supporters to send writing materials and messages of support to Dr. Al- Singace.