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Human Rights Activists Call on Bahraini Authorities Release Political Prisoners during COVID Crises

Human rights activists said that calls for the release of prisoners of conscience in light of the outbreak of the Coronavirus in Bahrain’s prisons are “reasonable, balanced and needed” at this challenging time.

Member of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Safaa Al-Khawaja, considered the Ministry of Interior’s announcement thatCOVID-positive cases have been discovered in Jaw Prison, “evidence of the dangers surrounding prisoners.”

Amid overcrowding in the prison wards, and the deterioration of the health conditions of many of them, based on the testimonies of the detainees and their families.

Usually, the authorities attempt to conceal the fate of political detainees, although it announced the discovery of 3 cases infected with the virus in Jaw Prison.

However, Bahraini sources reported to Bahraini Leaks, that about 40 detainees inside Jaw prison have symptoms of the epidemic, amid a lack of health care, especially in Building 21, which has160 prisoners under its roof.

Al-Khawaja said in a written statement, a copy of Bahraini Leaks received, that the Bahraini Ministry of Interior is interested in removing concerns of the detainees’ families and releasing them.

Al-Khawaja added that this decision will save the authorities financial expenses and human and administrative needs. “It will also achieve the satisfaction of international bodies with the decision to release political prisoners in Bahrain,” she said.

On March 17, 2020, the Bahraini Ministry of Interior released 1,486 detainees following the arrival of the Corona pandemic in the country. About 900 detainees were granted a royal pardon, while 585 were sentenced to non-custodial sentences under Bahrain’s law on alternative sentences.

Bahrain Center for Human Rights estimates that 300 political prisoners were released. But the authorities have not released any prominent political leaders or human rights defenders, according to Human Rights Watch.

Mothers of political detainees in the regime’s prisons launched a humanitarian call to save their children from the danger of COVID, where it is widely spreading inside prisons.

“We are facing a serious epidemic and it has taken many lives so far. We are not ready for heartbreak or catastrophe to occur, we are not waiting for the prison to turn into a cemetery,” said the appeal.

The mothers of the political detainees appealed to the Bahraini people of all groups to “make a serious demand and move quickly to publish their case before it is too late,” according to the appeal.

Earlier, Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights warned of a threat to the lives of sick and elderly people detained for political backgrounds. The Gulf Institute warned that the continued detention of prisoners, especially the elderly and sick, amounted to a killing process for them.

Various human rights organizations refer to the situation of political detainees, which number about 4 thousand detainees. Among them are the elderly and patients who need special medical care.

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