Activist Evan Jones sent a clear message to the Bahraini government in which he said that COVID-19 is a global pandemic and that all political prisoners should be released, explaining that “this is not about political pressure, but human decency and providing essential health care protections to individuals inside Bahrain’s borders.”
In an interview with Ghassan Khamis from the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIHDR), Jones said “During this time, not just Bahrain, but all countries around the world have to learn how to treat the vulnerable and marginalized, and in this case it’s Bahrain’s prison population,” stressing that for this reason “I called for the release of all political prisoners”. Jones expressed concern over the most vulnerable, including those who are over sixty, the sick who are waiting for their trials and those whose prison terms will end quite soon.
He also stated that Bahrain allies should raise their voices and not stay silent, because in this situation, silence would almost be the equivalent of complicity. These states need to mobilize their resources and to speak to their counterparts to ensure that this crisis does not go unaddressed. Jones stressed that his demands are a simple process to provide the right of life to these people, explaining that “human rights are indivisible, they are universal. To put it quite simply, they can’t stop at the cell door or according to anyone’s political beliefs.”
According to the U. S. Center for Disease Control, there is a number of harmful factors, in addition to the poor hygiene and tough living conditions in Bahrain prisons, which are really a recipe for disaster.
Jones noted that there are many human rights defenders, activist and opposition leaders in Bahraini who fall into this category, including Abdulwahad Hussein, 66 years, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and Dr. Abduljaleel Al-Signace. The activist highlighted that all people have to right to health and that prisoners are not excluded, adding that this includes prevention, treatment and control of diseases. Jones indicated that all people should enjoy the right to health without any discrimination, adding that this is mentioned in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, however, Bahrain violated this covenant in 2008.
Bahrain’s treatment also impinges upon the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which contains 7 articles that stress on the prohibition of torture, insult of individuals as well as ensuring the freedom and security of individuals, noting that Bahrain breached this agreement in 2006.
The interview with activist Evan Jones comes as part of #Release_Bahraini_Prisoners campaign, launched by a group of Bahraini activists days ago on social media outlets, to call on the Bahraini authorities to release Bahraini prisoners amid serious concerns over the Coronavirus outbreak and the poor conditions they are suffering from inside the prisons.