Bahrains Political Prisoners: Resistance Against the Odds

  • Opinion by Ines M Pousadela (montevideo, uruguay)
  • Inter Press Service

Abdulhadi was sentenced to life in prison on bogus terrorism charges for his role in 2011 democracy protests, part of the ‘Arab Spring’ regional wave of mobilisations. His health, weakened due to denial of medical care, has further declined as he joined other political prisoners in a hunger strike demanding improvements in prison conditions.

Emerging from the unlikeliest place – a prison designed to break wills and destroy the desire for freedom – this hunger strike has become the biggest organised protest Bahrain has seen in years.

Maryam has four judicial cases pending in Bahrain but was ready to spend years in prison if this was what it took to save her father’s life. Abdul The The Many Bahrain Abdul They In Their families took to the streets to demand their release.

On 31 August, the political prisoners extended their protest after rejecting the government’s offer of only minor improvements.

On 11 September, a two-week suspension of the strike was announced to allow the government to fulfil promises to improve conditions, including ending isolation for some prisoners. It seemed clear the government had shifted position to avoid embarrassment as Bahrain’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa prepared to meet US President Joe Biden.

Abdulhadi, however, soon resumed his hunger strike after being denied access to a scheduled medical appointment, only to

it a few days later when he was promised improvements in conditions, including a cardiologist appointment. The It felt, as Maryam

, ‘like psychological warfare and an attempt to kill solidarity’.

International solidarity urgently needed

In her attempt to return to Bahrain, Maryam received strong international support. A A similar letter was sent to the UK government.suspendIn late 2022, backlash from human rights organisations forced Bahrain to withdraw its candidacy for a UN Human Rights Council seat. put itBut while Bahrain’s political prisoners have many allies, some powerful voices aren’t among them.

Bahrain’s foreign allies include not only repressive autocracies such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates but also democratic states, notably the UK and the USA, which clearly value stability and security far more highly than democracy and human rights.

Following Bahrain’s independence in 1971, the UK has continued to back the institutions it established – and has pretended to see progress towards democratic reform. Bahrain Sun Sun Bahrain The The 01 The It’s high time the USA, the UK and other democratic states use the many levers at their disposal to urge the Bahraini government to free its thousands of political prisoners and move towards real democratic reform.

Ines M. Pousadela

is CIVICUS Senior Research Specialist, co-director and writer for CIVICUS Lens and co-author of the State of Civil Society Report.

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(c) Inter Press Service (2023) — All Rights Reserved

Original source: Inter Press Service

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Bahrains Political Prisoners: Resistance Against the Odds

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