The Gulf Center for Human Rights Center called for the release of all prisoners of conscience in light of the risk of the spread of the Covid-19 virus in Bahrain’s prisons.
While it welcomed the release of some political prisoners in Bahrain at the beginning of the month of Ramadan, the Gulf Center called on the authorities to release all human rights defenders, activists and protesters imprisoned in violation of their rights to freedom of expression and assembly.
The centre noted that on April 9, 2021, human rights defender Mohamed Hassan Jawad was released after spending ten years in Jau Prison.
Parvez was arrested on March 22, 2011, and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
He is the oldest of the group of prisoners known as “Bahrain 13”, including human rights defenders Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and Dr. Abdul-Jalil Al-Singace.
Other prisoners were released, including young men who had not seen their families for many years.
However, other detainees’ families, especially mothers, continue to protest in the streets of Bahrain, demanding the release of their children amid the spread of Covid-19 in prisons.
On March 25, 2021, the Bahraini authorities said that there were cases of Covid-19 virus in Jaw Prison but claimed that they were isolated.
Protests by families who received news of the virus spreading in Jaw Prison continued throughout Bahrain during April 2021.
Among those infected with the virus is Syed Nizar Al-Wadaei, son-in-law of Syed Ahmed Al-Wadaei, head of advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy.
His family stated that dozens of other prisoners have been infected with the COVID-19 virus.
The news of the spread of Covid-19 comes amid persistent concerns about poor conditions in Bahraini prisons, and the lack of medical treatment for prisoners.
The family of prisoner of conscience, Abbas MalAllah, learned on April 6, 2021, that their son had died in Jau Prison due to medical negligence.
Still 40 years old, MalAllah died of a heart attack, even though he was suffering from illnesses and other health problems due to torture, and he received no treatment.
In a joint letter to the United Nations and the Member States, more than 35 non-governmental organizations, including the Gulf Center for Human Rights and the Global Coalition for Citizen Participation (CIVITAS), appealed to help release Al-Khawaja on his 60th birthday and the tenth anniversary of his detention.
Al-Khawaja is the founding director of the Gulf Center for Human Rights and a former president and founder of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights.
His daughter, Zainab Al-Khawaja, wrote a moving editorial about how her father experiences life in prison, where he is deprived of books and reading materials.
“In the past ten years, they have come up with new methods of torturing him. Prisoners have nothing, so the prison administration gives them specific requests. The regime wants prisoners to suffer beyond prison sentences and torture,” she wrote.
On March 17, 2021, the Gulf Center for Human Rights issued a report detailing some of the ill-treatment and torture that Al-Khawaja was subjected to during his arrest and the subsequent arbitrary detention.
In January 2021, more than 100 civil society organizations appealed to the Danish government to help release Al-Khawaja so that he can travel to Denmark for treatment.
On March 11, 2021, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly to adopt an urgent resolution condemning human rights violations in Bahrain.
The resolution calls for the release of Al-Khawaja, Naji Fateel, Abdul-Wahab Hussain, Ali Haji, Sheikh Ali Salman, and Hassan Mushaima, who were arrested and sentenced solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression.
The Gulf Center for Human Rights called on the United Nations, the European Parliament, and member states to pressure the Bahraini authorities to release all prisoners of conscience, along with all prisoners who do not pose any threat to the public, especially with the spread of the Covid-19 virus in the prison.
The Center for Human Rights affirmed that in the spirit of the blessed month of Ramadan, the Bahraini authorities should release all those imprisoned for violations of their rights to freedom of expression and assembly.