x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

More than 100 jailed Bahraini activists are on hunger strike

Bahrain Commission of Inquiry says 84 opposition supporters are on hunger strike in prison while 17 detained activists have been hospitalised by the interior ministry for their refusal to eat.

MANAMA // More than 100 jailed Bahraini activists, including doctors who treated protesters during months of anti-government protests in the Gulf kingdom, are on hunger strike, an international panel said yesterday.

The Bahrain Commission of Inquiry said in a statement that 84 opposition supporters were on hunger strike in prison.

In addition, 17 detained activists had been hospitalised by the interior ministry for their refusal to eat.

Hundreds of activists have been imprisoned since February when Shiite-led demonstrations began in the Sunni-ruled kingdom.

The five-member panel had been set up in June to investigate the situation in the country. Yesterday's statement said an international expert on hunger strikes would join the panel to visit the detainees and evaluate their condition.

"Medical advice will be provided and the expert will discuss the challenges of hunger strike," the statement said, adding that the hunger strike started nine days ago.

Among jailed activists on hunger strike are 20 doctors who were on trial in a special security court on charges of participating in efforts to overthrow Bahrain's 200-year-old monarchy.

Other jailed opposition supporters have joined the strike, including two prominent Shiite activists, Abdul Jalil Al Singace and Abdulhadi Al Khawaja. They were sentenced to life in prison in June for their role in protests.

The doctors' trial is being closely watched by rights groups, which have criticised Bahrain's use of the security court that included military prosecutors and civilians and military judges.

The case against 11 health professionals was back in the special tribunal yesterday. No verdict was expected from the session.

The Bahrain Commission of Inquiry includes international judicial and human-rights experts. They started the investigation with the consent of the Sunni rulers.

The commission's findings are expected on October 30.