Blogger and human rights activist Dr Abduljalil Al-Singace has been in prison in Bahrain since 2010. He was arrested at Bahrain International Airport after returning from London, where he had been testifying to the House of Lords about Bahrain’s human rights practices. A security official stated that Al-Singace had “abused the freedom of opinion and expression prevailing in the kingdom”. After being held in solitary confinement for six months, Al-Singace was briefly released in February 2011 before being rearrested in March.
“I saw them drag him in his underwear and without his glasses, with a gun pointed at his head,” a relative said of the arrest. He was taken to a detention center where he was blindfolded, handcuffed and beaten. On 22 June 2011 a military court sentenced Al-Singace to life imprisonment.
Al-Singace is one of 13 leading human rights and political activists arrested in the same period, subjected to torture, and sentenced in the same case, known as the “Bahrain 13”. All 13 are all serving their prison sentences in the Central Jau Prison.
“The group is more like a family now,” said a member of Dr Abduljalil Al-Singace’s family, who asked to remain unnamed due to pressure the family continue to face from authorities. “They went through similar conditions of the arrest and torture, and they all suffered a lot because of their opinions and because of expressing their opinion.”
Last year Al-Singace went on hunger strike to protest the treatment of prisoners in Bahrain. Al-Singace, suffers from polio in his left leg and various other health issues, was held in solitary confinement in a windowless room in Al-Qalaa hospital and has denied any form of media or writing materials.
“Being alone in solitary confinement in that small room, not being allowed to watch TV or to talk to other patients or have books, it didn’t break anything in him,” said the family member. “I think it made him stronger. He was always positive during the whole period.”
Al-Singace’s hunger strike lasted for 313 days.
“He inspires everyone. Even when he was very weak during the strike, he was the one who was inspiring us. We felt stronger with his strength despite that his body was very weak and he was shivering, but he has this very, very positive strong spirit.”
And the situation in Bahrain at the moment?
“It is still difficult. There are still people being arrested, children being arrested, nationalities being revoked. It’s still very complicated and very difficult. You still see police cars and checkpoints especially in the villages or in the openings of the villages, the entrances. It’s still very difficult in Bahrain.”