A prominent imprisoned Bahraini opposition figure has lost 10 kg during the first three weeks of a hunger strike, a family member said on Friday, as rights groups called for his release and the return of a confiscated manuscript he had written.
Abduljalil al-Singace was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2011 alongside a number of other Shi’ite Muslim activists and opposition leaders for their roles in an uprising in the Gulf island state.
Singace, who also staged a 10-month hunger strike in 2015-2016, has refused food since July 8, demanding better treatment and the release of 12 confiscated notebooks, which his family says hold the manuscript of a book on Arabic dialects.
“He resorted to a hunger strike as the last means to end the degrading treatment,” the family member said, adding the 59-year old’s voice had weakened and relatives were concerned about his mental health.
Bahrain’s government, in response to a request for comment, said Singace’s documents had been “confiscated during an attempt to smuggle them from prison in breach of the established procedures and rules”.
Singace was being seen daily by doctors and given nutrients with consent, it said, adding that the authorities had advised him to end the hunger strike and await a legal process regarding the manuscript. It said detainees receive healthcare equivalent to that provided by the public health system outside prison, and there was a “zero-tolerance policy” towards mistreatment.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur, Amnesty International and Human Rights watch among others have called for Singace’s release.