GIDHR: on the World Health Day, Bahrain’s prisons are overcrowded with prisoners of conscience exposing them to the danger of Novel Coronavirus

8 April 2020 – The world celebrated its Health Day this year amid Covid 19 pandemic.  Governments are taking exceptional measures to ensure the safety of their people and to slow down the spread of Novel Coronavirus, one of which is releasing prisoners to maintain their well-being, and thus the well being of all the society.
However, Bahrain’s prisons are overcrowded with prisoners of conscience who were sentenced over fabricated charges in political motivated cases. Around 4000 political prisoners are stacked in cells which lack the minimum hygiene conditions and regular disinfectant. Reports from inside the prisons reported repeatedly the spread of diseases among the inmates due to the poor conditions and lack of adequate health care and medications.
Elderly prisoners or those with chronic or serious diseases are not receiving suitable treatment or regular medical care.
Hassan Mushaimaa, the Secretary-General of the Haq movement, is 72 years old and suffers from chronic illnesses (high blood pressure, diabetes,  and gout) and is in remission of lymphoma. He was denied his medications and regular tests more than once.
Another prisoner, Abdul Jalil AlSingace, a blogger and human rights activist, is 58 years old. He has post-polio syndrome and needs a wheelchair or crutches to move. Prison authorities were refusing to escort him to his appointments because he refused to wear the shackles.
Moreover, Sheikh Ali Salman, the Secretary-Genral of Al-Wefaq Society, prominent human rights activists Nabeel Rajab and Abdul Hadi Khawaja and Abdul Wahab Hussein, an opposition leader, in addition to other prominent opposition figures are also still behind bars despite all the calls to release them.
“Bahrain should decrease the population inside priosns by releasing those who were convicted in political motivated cases or for exercising their religious freedoms or freedom of expression. Such prisoners of conscience do not belong to prisons, they should be practicing their important work and ensuring the political process in Bahrain is on the right track,” commented Yahya Alhadid the Chairman of GIDHR. “No one should be punished while working to protect his/her fellow nationals’ rights and freedoms. Criticising governments or their policies is an important part of any political process,” he continued.