Geneva Council strongly condemns the alleged human rights violations in Bahrain’s detention facilities. We express our unwavering support for the detainees who have embarked on a hunger strike to protest against the perceived infringements on their basic rights.
According to a report from the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), a significant number of prisoners, believed to be around “at least 500,” have initiated a hunger strike to protest what they view as “inhumane prison conditions.” Geneva Council is deeply concerned about these allegations and firmly stands by the prisoners’ right to demand dignified treatment and just conditions during their incarceration.
The detainees, predominantly confined to their cells for a staggering 23 hours a day, have raised their voices against restrictions on practicing their religious beliefs. Geneva Council acknowledges the importance of respecting freedom of religion and expression, even within the confines of a prison setting.
At the center of this dispute lies Jau prison, where dissidents who were apprehended after participating in the 2011 pro-democracy demonstrations are currently detained. Al-Wefaq, the banned Bahraini opposition party, has voiced the detainees’ essential requests for increased time outside their cells, the ability to engage in congregational prayers within the prison mosque, improved access to family visits, and enhanced educational facilities. Geneva Council underscores that these demands are not frivolous, but rather fundamental to preserving their basic human dignity.
In response to inquiries regarding the situation in Bahrain, the spokesperson for the US State Department, Vedant Patel, revealed that Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed concerns during his meeting with Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdellatif al-Zayani on July 20. Geneva Council commends the United States for addressing these concerns and urges the international community to stand united in advocating for the prisoners’ rights and the upholding of human rights standards.
Geneva Council recognizes the critical role played by Western allies, particularly the US, in Bahrain’s affairs. It is our stance that human rights should remain a paramount consideration in any diplomatic relationship. The history of engagement between the US and Bahrain raises questions about the effectiveness of pressuring the Bahraini government to address human rights violations. The focus on Bahrain’s human rights situation reportedly dwindled over time, even under the Trump administration, which established a closer rapport with Bahrain due to its involvement in the Abraham Accords and its recognition of Israel.
As an independent news organization devoted to promoting human rights, Geneva Council reaffirms its dedication to shining a spotlight on such issues, standing in solidarity with the Bahraini prisoners who have initiated a hunger strike to demand justice and humane treatment. We urge the Bahraini authorities to engage constructively, listen to the detainees’ grievances, and take meaningful steps towards rectifying the alleged human rights abuses.