SHAFAQNA – The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) reported that a number of female detainees held at Bahrain’s Isa Town Detention Centre launched an open-ended hunger strike in protest over new restrictions.
Earlier prison authorities erected glass partitions designed to prevent inmates from having any kind of physical contact with visiting family members. The women are reportedly refusing family visits until the partitions are removed.
The news comes shortly after jailed human rights defender Ebtisam Al-Saegh was penalized for attempting to hug and kiss her children during a visit.
According to the families of the female detainees, prison authorities generally permitted physical contact between prisoners and their loved ones prior last week’s incident involving Al-Saegh.
“Many of those inmates are solely imprisoned for their political opinion. Now the prison authorities are setting out to make their lives even more miserable by also punishing their families in this denial of ordinary contact,” said BIRD’s Director of Advocacy, Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei. “It’s shameful to see silence from international governments when their training in Bahrain is put to such inhumane use. This must be an alarming revelation that should lead countries such as the UK and Switzerland to immediately end their programmes that allegedly empower women in Bahrain.”
Since 2011 Bahrain has seen much violence directed at pro-democracy activists and human rights defenders under the pretence of national security. More troubling still has the state propensity to fan sectarian tensions to better assert its rule, and thus deny an entire segment of its population the right to express their political and social aspirations.