King of Bahrain, Shaikh Hamad bin 'Issa Al Khalifa
Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Sheikh Salman bin Hamad,
We, the undersigned, write to you once more to bring to your attention the case of Dr. Abuljalil Al-Singace who is serving a life imprisonment sentence solely for exercising his rights to freedom of expression, opinion and peaceful assembly – guaranteed under international law – in his roles as an opposition activist and human rights defender. Indeed, on 14 December 2022 the European Parliament adopted an urgent resolution calling for the release of Al-Singace alongside other prisoners “who have been detained and sentenced for merely exercising their right to freedom of expression”.
On 13 August 2022 we wrote to you regarding Al-Singace and urged you to secure his immediate and unconditional release, ensure that he receives adequate health care, be protected from torture and other ill treatment and that his academic work be transferred to his family. With regret, we note that none of our requests have been met or acknowledged, and Al-Singace’s situation remains of increasing concern.
Today, 15 January 2023, Al-Singace marks his 61st birthday and his twelfth one spent in prison. It is now a staggering year and a half since Al-Singace began his hunger strike on 8 July 2021 during which he is sustaining himself only on multivitamin liquid supplement, tea with milk and sugar, water and salts. We are deeply disturbed by updates from Al-Singace’s family detailing how he is being subjected to ongoing, deliberate denial of health care, which includes denial of proper diagnoses and MRIs requested by doctors. This is extremely concerning considering his age, preexisting health conditions and the significantly increased fragility of his health due to his prolonged hunger strike.
Al-Singace suffers from problems in his eye, pain and inflammation in his joints, shoulder and hip, twitching in his muscles, and enlargement in his prostate. The pain in his left shoulder joints is increasing and he is also experiencing weakened eyesight. These medical issues remain unresolved without proper diagnosis or treatment. What is more, we are seriously alarmed that Al-Singace continues to be held in what effectively amounts to solitary confinement within his room in Kanoo Medical Centre, where he is prohibited from going outside, being exposed to direct sunlight, or receiving the physiotherapy that he requires for his disability. Al-Singace is also still being denied rubber slippers for the bathroom, a hot water bottle and replacements of the worn rubber stoppers on his crutches, the lack of which puts his safety at risk and reduces his mobility.
We are further concerned that the provision of Al-Singace’s medications is being delayed or not delivered in full, in what we fear may be a punitive attempt to pressure him to end his hunger strike. He has run out of his muscle medication and authorities are refusing to provide him with more of this medication in a timely manner. What is more, it is concerning that Al-Singace is now offered medication different to that which he was prescribed by his doctor; he refuses to take this medication, resulting in authorities asking him to sign a form saying that he refused to take the medication because he did not like it.
In light of the above, we renew our calls on you to release Al-Singace immediately and unconditionally, and in the meantime to ensure he is held in conditions that meet international standards, receives his medication without delay, has access to adequate healthcare, in compliance with medical ethics, and to ensure that his arbitrarily confiscated research is handed to his family members immediately.
Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
International Service For Human Rights (ISHR)
Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)
World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders