Inmates at the Jaw Rehabilitation and Reform Center in Bahrain have initiated a hunger strike to protest the dire conditions they face, according to both activists and authorities. This facility primarily holds prisoners who have been identified as dissidents by human rights activists.
The hunger strike, which has garnered significant attention, highlights several key demands put forth by the prisoners. They are calling for the ability to freely worship, an end to the daily 23-hour lockdowns, an end to arbitrary isolation, improved family visitation rights, and better access to healthcare. Although the exact number of participants in the hunger strike remains unconfirmed, it is believed to involve hundreds of prisoners.
One prominent figure involved in the strike is activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who is presently serving a life sentence. Al-Khawaja’s participation lends further weight to the seriousness of the prisoners’ grievances.
These protests shed light on existing concerns regarding the prison’s medical care. As recently as June 2022, a tuberculosis outbreak was reported within the facility. This has raised additional alarm among human rights advocates and the wider international community.
The hunger strike takes place against a backdrop of political crackdowns in Bahrain since the Arab Spring protests in 2011. The government has imprisoned numerous activists, deported others, and closed down independent newspapers in efforts to suppress dissent. Nonetheless, Bahrain has recognized Israel diplomatically and hosted Pope Francis in 2021, showcasing a complex and potentially contradictory approach to international relations.
As the hunger strike continues, activists and concerned individuals are closely monitoring the situation at the Jaw Rehabilitation and Reform Center. The demands made by the prisoners highlight the urgent need for improvements in conditions and treatment within Bahrain’s prison system. The outcome of the hunger strike may hold important implications for the country’s human rights record and its relationship with the international community.