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Hunt urged ‘intervene’ to help hunger-striking political prisoners in Bahrain

TWO British parliamentarians have written to Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt demanding his “urgent intervention” to help political prisoners on hunger strike in Bahrain.

Labour MP and Corbyn ally Lloyd Russell-Moyle and Lib Dem peer Lord Scriven are raising the case of Ali AlHajee and Naji Fateel who have been on hunger strike for over 60 days.

Mr Fateel, a director of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, is serving a lengthy jail sentence for his activism. The UN committee against torture has called for his immediate release.

Opposition to Bahrain’s tyrannical King Hamad is routinely met with torture and imprisonment.

Britain is one of Bahrain’s closest allies and has trained hundreds of guards at the Gulf kingdom’s high-security Jau prison where inmates are refusing food.

Last year the Morning Star revealed that political prisoners at Jau are shackled with handcuffs made in Birmingham.

We reported on the case of jailed opposition leader, frail Hassan Mushaima, who was being denied medical treatment unless he wore shackles to the sick bay.

His exiled son Ali launched a hunger strike outside the Bahrain embassy in London, and only resumed eating when the Jau prison authorities finally promised to improve medical care at the jail.

However, that pledge proved to be short lived with other inmates now warning their health is at risk.

The British parliamentarians described conditions at Jau as “inhumane” and said in their letter: “Mr AlHajee and Mr Fateel are constantly being denied basic entitlements while in detention in Jau prison.

“While Mr AlHajee needs surgery to his lower jaw and requires urgent dental implants, Mr Fateel needs surgery to extract iron splints from his leg.”

They warned that another 20 inmates have since gone on hunger strike at the jail, and said Mr Fateel is threatening to dramatically escalate his hunger strike tomorrow and begin refusing fluids.

The prisoners’ complaints are particularly embarrassing for the Tory government which has spent millions of pounds training Bahrain’s jailers, including on their healthcare policies.

“It is highly concerning that Mr AlHajee and Mr Fateel are putting their lives at risk to get their basic entitlements,” the politicians warned Jeremy Hunt.

“Therefore, we urge you to act swiftly on behalf of Mr AlHajee and Mr Fateel by making representations to the Bahraini government to grant both inmates immediate access to medical care and release them.”

 A Bahrain government spokesperson said: "Bahrain’s Prisoners and Detainees Rights Commission (PDRC) was set up in 2013 to ensure prisoners and other detainees are afforded proper treatment, including appropriate health care. It is the first such organisation of its kind in the region.

“The PDRC exercises its functions freely, impartially, transparently and in a completely independent manner in order to ascertain prisoners’ status and the treatment they receive.

All prisoners in Bahrain have access to healthcare and the Kingdom takes allegations of mistreatment of prisoners very seriously. The independent Special Investigations Unit and Ombudsman now vigorously investigate any allegation of mistreatment."

 A Bahrain government spokesperson said: “Bahrain’s Prisoners and Detainees Rights Commission (PDRC) was set up in 2013 to ensure prisoners and other detainees are afforded proper treatment, including appropriate healthcare. It is the first such organisation of its kind in the region.

“The PDRC exercises its functions freely, impartially, transparently and in a completely independent manner in order to ascertain prisoners’ status and the treatment they receive. 

“All prisoners in Bahrain have access to healthcare and the kingdom takes allegations of mistreatment of prisoners very seriously. The independent Special Investigations Unit and ombudsman now vigorously investigate any allegation of mistreatment.”

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