We, the undersigned human rights organisations, are writing to raise urgent concerns about Bahraini human rights defender Dr Abduljalil AlSingace, who has been on hunger strike since 8 July 2021, to protest the confiscation of his academic research on Bahraini culture. He turns 60 on 15 January 2022. He has been in prison for over a decade in violation of his freedom of expression and assembly rights.
We kindly urge you to take immediate and appropriate measures to raise Dr ' 'AlSingace's case with Bahraini authorities at your earliest convenience to alleviate his suffering and prevent his health from deteriorating further.
As you may be aware, Dr AlSingace is a respected academic and human rights defender serving a life sentence for his peaceful role in ' 'Bahrain's 2011 pro-democracy uprising; his case is currently the most pressing among prisoners in Bahrain. In addition to the health consequences of not eating solid food for nearly six months, Dr AlSingace also suffers from chronic medical conditions, including post-polio syndrome, requiring crutches or a wheelchair since birth.
Other prominent human rights defenders and activists in prison include EU-Bahraini dual nationals prominent Danish-Bahraini human rights defender Abdulhadi AlKhawaja and Sheikh Mohamed Habib AlMuqdad, leader of AlWefaq, as well as Sheikh Ali Salman, Abdulwahab Husain, Hasan Mushaima, and human rights defenders Naji Fateel and Ali AlHajee.
Last November marked the 10th anniversary of the government-commissioned Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), which revealed shocking accounts of torture, military trials of civilians and state-sanctioned killings. That report noted that many detainees were subjected to torture and other forms of physical and psychological abuse while in custody". The Bahraini King vowed to implement its recommendations in 2011. This promise has yet to be fulfilled; no senior officials have been held accountable, and those subjected to this horrific torture still languish unlawfully behind bars.
Hunger strike since 8 July 2021
Dr AlSingace began a hunger strike on 8 July 2021 in protest at the confiscation by prison authorities of an apolitical book on Bahraini dialects that he spent the last four years researching and writing whilst imprisoned. He has been on hunger strike since July 2021 and spent a considerable time in hospital due to his deteriorating condition, and he lost well over 20kg.
In July 2021, the Bahrain Ministry of Interior Ombudsman declared that 'AlSingace's work cannot be given to his family until a "legal decision" is taken. We understand that in November 2021, a legal decision was made determining his work to be apolitical. Despite this decision, Dr ' 'AlSingace's research remains in the hands of authorities. As a result, Dr AlSingace is continuing his strike.
Updates on medical condition
Towards the end of November 2021, authorities arbitrarily suspended Dr ' 'AlSingace's weekly video calls to his family. In response, Dr AlSingace escalated his hunger strike by refusing to take IVs, supplementary vitamins and oral medication. Since this decision, family members report that AlSingace has lost considerable weight, appearing more fragile and pale than previously. His sugar levels remain low, and his immunity is weakened due to a low white blood cell count.
Denial of Adequate Medical Treatment
Despite Dr AlSingace also suffering from medical conditions including severe intermittent headaches, a prostate problem, arthritis in his shoulder joint, tremors, numbness and diminished eyesight, he has not received the expected medical care for them. Dr AlSingace reports that he has still not been informed of the outcome of an MRI scan taken over two months ago, and no progress has been made on giving him a CT scan as requested by his doctor over two months.
According to an expert opinion by the US-based Dr Qasim Omran, despite being detained in the Kanoo Medical Centre medical facility, Dr AlSingace is receiving treatment that is "not [...] appropriat[e]". Prison authorities are refusing his previous requests for painkillers. For over two months, Dr AlSingace has been excluded from daily medical check-ups by his doctor, the on-duty doctors, and the chief nurse, except in rare emergencies.
Over the past decade, there has been an international consensus calling for the release of Dr AlSingace. More recently, on 22 June 2021, Ms Mary Lawlor, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, issued a statement praising the alarm at the prolonged imprisonment of Dr AlSingace calling for his release and other human rights defenders imprisoned in Bahrain.
Since Dr ' 'AlSingace's hunger strike, similar calls have been made by members of the UK and EU Parliaments, Members of the US Congress, 16 leading international NGOs and over 100 global academics.
The prolonged and arbitrary confiscation of Dr ' 'AlSingace's book is an unjust punishment. Bahraini authorities must protect his rights, including returning his intellectual property and the resumption of his weekly video calls to his family.
We kindly urge you to call for Dr 'AlSingace's immediate and unconditional release and hand over his work immediately to his family. We urge the release of everyone imprisoned for exercising their rights to freedom of association, peaceful assembly, opinion and expression, including human rights defenders, opposition activists, and journalists.
Please consider taking the following urgent actions to raise concerns over these updates and the ongoing unresolved case of Dr AlSingace which is putting him at serious risk:
- Raise concerns with your Bahraini counterparts over authorities' denial of adequate medical treatment to Dr AlSingace and their failure to give his confiscated research to his family, and urge them to take action;
- Raise your concerns through relevant diplomatic channels. Please consider both public and private representations and posting on social media to raise the profile of this case and push for a resolution.
Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)
Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)
Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)