In July last year, an independent human rights group documented the arrest of more than 5,000 prisoners of conscience, in addition to 200 victims of excessive use of force, murder and torture in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom. The ruling Al Khalifah regime presses ahead with its clampdown on political dissidents and pro-democracy activists, amid silence from the international community.
Months after that report, the mental and physical health of the prisoners is giving those monitoring the developments in the Island Kingdom cause for grave concern.
Al-Wefaq, a Shia political party in Bahrain, says their detainment is illegal and has called for immediate action by all international human rights and other institutions to liberate those prisoners before it’s too late.
One of Bahrain’s most prominent human rights defenders jailed by the regime is Nabeel Rajab, sentenced to five year behind bars by the Court of Cassation, based on views he expressed on Twitter, a verdict Amnesty international described as shameful and a travesty of justice.
Aided and abetted by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the Al Khalifah dictatorship has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. As a result, scores of people have been killed and hundreds of others injured in the past decade alone.
In 2017, Bahrain’s parliament approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals in a measure blasted by human rights campaigners as being tantamount to imposition of an undeclared martial law countrywide. As those prisoners of conscience battle mental or physical health, it’s yet to be seen what the international community will do to secure their freedom.