Jaw Prison and the policy of religious persecution

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SHAFAQNA – Bahrain’s most infamous incarceration center finds itself once again in the middle of controversy as reports pointed to systematic religious-based persecution have surfaced.

Shia Muslims detainees – who account for the majority of the prison general population due to Manama’s intensified crackdown against the religious group in view of its promotion of Wahhabism, have been prevented from exercising their religious rights.

Reports have confirmed that prisoners suffered brutal psychological and physical abuses at the hands of their jailers for requesting to be allowed to practice their faith.

A detainee at Bahrain’s Jaw Prison Issa al-Mutawa is unable to purchase basic goods sold at the facility for a two-month period.

Political prisoners in Jaw are also routinely denied access to desperately needed medical care and are punished for complaining or speaking out against the cruel practices.

In September of last year, over 1,000 Bahraini prisoners launched a hunger strike in protest of the living conditions and abuses in detention.

Ebrahim Demastani,  former deputy head of the Bahraini Nurses Association who was arrested for treating protesters in 2011 and sent to the Jaw prison recalls the horrors he witnessed and experienced.

“We were kept outdoors from March 10 to March 15 (2011) without mattresses or blankets in the prison grounds — the younger prisoners especially were targeted for beatings. From 6:30 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. on March 12, the beatings were very intense because images of the prison had been leaked to the outside, film taken on a mobile phone by a prisoner. When the police realized there was a phone they tried to hunt for it.”

And: “I was with human rights defender Naji Fateel, and we weren’t allowed to sleep for 24 hours. Clerics who are prisoners were forced to say shameful words, and others were humiliated by being forced to speak in animal noises. We had to sing the national anthem. The guards beat prisoners on the soles of their feet with black plastic hoses. My leg was badly injured and I was denied medical treatment for it.”

Despite countless calls to Bahrain regime to address its abysmal human rights track record and end its heinous sectarian policies, Manama has chosen instead to exert more pressure on those made most vulnerable while dazzling the international community with the promises of lucrative contracts – thus buying itself the goodwill of an unsympathetic media.

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