Bahrain’s government has denied it mistreats prisoners after rights group Amnesty International accused the Gulf kingdom of withholding medication from a 60-year-old detainee on hunger strike.
“The quality and standard of healthcare provided to inmates is the same as that provided in the community through the public health system,” a government spokesperson said in a statement Saturday.
“The government of Bahrain has implemented internationally recognised human rights safeguards,” the statement added.
On Thursday, Amnesty International said that prisoner “Abduljalil al-Singace, who has been refusing solid foods for a year, has now decided to also abstain from health-stabilising salts in protest at the prison authorities’ withholding some of his medication”.
Singace was among 13 activists who took part in anti-government protests more than a decade ago, and who were convicted on charges that included “setting up terror groups to topple the regime”.
A key member of the Shiite opposition Haq movement, he is serving a life sentence for his involvement in the 2011 uprising.
Singace “has been behind bars for over a decade solely for exercising his rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” Amnesty’s Amna Guellali said in a statement.
Amnesty said Singace suffers from “multiple medical conditions” including “a prostate problem, arthritis in his shoulder joint” and diminished eyesight.
Guellali called for Singace’s immediate release and said authorities “must urgently ensure he receives all the medication he requires without delay”.
Singace, an academic and blogger, launched a hunger strike in July last year to protest his prison conditions and the authorities’ confiscation of a book he had been working on.
Rights groups say the book had no political content.
Activist groups and international bodies regularly accuse Bahrain, a close ally of the United States, of repressing human rights defenders.
Since the 2011 Shiite-led uprising in the Sunni-ruled kingdom that was put down with Saudi military support, Bahrain has outlawed opposition parties and arrested dozens of activists, sparking international criticism.
Bahrain has claimed Iran trained and backed the demonstrators in order to topple the Manama government — an accusation Tehran denies