Jailed Bahraini blogger on hunger strike must not be allowed to die
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the Bahraini authorities to act responsibly by releasing Abduljalil Al-Singace, a blogger who has been serving a life sentence for the past 11 years and whose health continues to worsen because of the hunger strike he began exactly one year ago.
“We must not allow Abduljalil Al-Singace to die and to be forgotten,” said Sabrina Bennoui, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “This blogger has been left to rot in prison for more than 11 years and that is already way too long. What is the Bahraini monarchy waiting for in order to finally recognise the urgency of the situation? We urge the authorities to act responsibly by releasing him without further delay.”
Eleven years in prison and one year without eating any solids. Al-Singace, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in June 2021, decided to play his last card on 8 July, 2021, when he began his hunger strike in protest against the treatment he has received in prison.
An engineer by training and leading figure in a wave of anti-government protests in 2011, Singace was convicted of “creating terrorist groups with a view to overthrowing the monarchy and changing the constitution.” In his blog, Al-Faseelah, he posted information about the human rights situation, the crackdown on the political opposition and discrimination against Bahrain’s Shia residents. His blog was quickly blocked by the authorities.
He has lost more than 25 kilos since starting the hunger strike. A member of his family told RSF: “He is weak. He trembles sometimes. The tips of his fingers are cold. And he is pale.” He has survived by “drinking tea with milk and sugar and taking vitamins,” his family explained. “The authorities withheld the sugar and milk for a while in an attempt to make him call off the hunger strike,” they added.
Aged 60, Al-Singace is now being held at the Kanoo Medical Centre. His blood sugar level and blood pressure are low and his vision is suffering. These conditions have compounded the problems he already had before he was jailed. As a result of having had polio as a child, he suffers from muscular pains and arthritis that force him to use crutches. He used a wheelchair when participating in the peaceful protest marches in 2011.
He began the hunger strike after the prison authorities confiscated the research work he had been doing in prison. For the past few years, he had been researching Bahrain’s culture and different dialects.
“He is determined to continue [the hunger strike] until his manuscripts are handed over to his family,” RSF was told. Despite the apolitical nature of what it has written, the authorities are insisting on a revision before anything is published, but Al-Singace has ruled this out.
Al-Singace went on an earlier hunger strike in 2015 that he continued for more than 300 days.