Hundreds of prisoners of conscience in Bahrain are on hunger strike to reverse a decline in their conditions, activists say. The strike began on Aug. 7, led by some 400 prisoners held at Jau Prison. More than three weeks later, the number of hunger-strikers is said to have doubled to some 800. Human rights campaigners describe the strike as the largest in the country’s history, while the state says only 121 inmates have joined. The scale of the action is better grasped when considering that there are up to 1,400 political prisoners in Bahrain, out of a total prison population of some 3,200-3,800, according to the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy.
The detainees have several demands, including an end to 23-hours-per-day confinement in cells. The aim is to restore previous arrangements whereby prisoners were let out during the day and allowed to use prison facilities such as football courts, libraries, and mosques for congregational prayers, and to perform different activities or hobbies. Prisoners also want to exercise their right to a university education. Other demands include an end to alleged medical negligence; prisoners are claimed to sometimes be left waiting over a year to be examined by a...
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