Bahraini women demanding better prison conditions end hunger strike

Victory for Bahraini activists as they end hunger strike over better prison conditions
2 min read
29 October, 2017
A rights group said a group of Bahraini women detainees have ended a six-day hunger strike over 'ill treatment' at prisons after wardens agreed to their demands.
Five detained activists went on hunger strike to demand better prison conditions [Getty]

A group of detainees at a Bahraini women's detention centre ended a six-day hunger strike on Sunday after negotiating better prison conditions with authorities, a rights group said.

The five women ended their strike at the Isa Town women's prison after wardens agreed to their demands, according to the Bahrain Institute for Human Rights and Democracy (BIRD), which says they are being held in connection with political activity.

Detainees will now be allowed privacy during phone calls to their families and will no longer be separated from visitors by glass panes, BIRD said.

Hajar Mansoor Hassan, one of the five detainees, had been forced to suspend her hunger strike at the weekend after being hospitalised for low blood sugar levels.

Along with Hassan, detainees Najah al-Sheikh, Amira al-Qashami, Medina Ali and Zainab Marhoon last week launched the strike in protest against the mistreatment of detainees.

Authorities have cracked down on political dissent since a wave of protests erupted in 2011 demanding an elected government in the Shia-majority country.

In April, parliament gave approval for military courts to try civilians charged with "terrorism", a vaguely defined legal term in the Sunni-ruled kingdom.

Hassan, the mother-in-law of BIRD's advocacy director, is due to be sentenced on 30 October on terrorism-related charges along with her son and nephew.

They face up to three years in jail.

Bahraini authorities last week released high-profile female activist Ebtisam al-Saegh as she awaits trial. She has accused the government of torture while she was in custody.

The Bahrain government has drawn international criticism for its crackdown on political dissent. Hundreds of protestors have been jailed and number of high-profile activists and clerics stripped of citizenship since 2011.

Journalists are also widely banned from travel to the country.

Bahraini authorities accuse Shia-ruled Iran of training "terrorist cells" that aim to overthrow the government. Tehran denies the allegation.

A key US ally located between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Bahrain is home to the US Fifth Fleet and a British military base that is still under construction.