The Last Resort
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Around 800 political prisoners and human rights advocates continued a mass hunger strike at Bahrain’s Jau prison this week, in protest of conditions at the facility, the Middle East Eye reported Thursday.
The protest, now in its fourth week, marks one of the most significant acts of civil disobedience since the mass demonstrations in Bahrain more than a decade ago during the Arab Spring.
Many of the prisoners are imprisoned for their involvement in the pro-democracy protests in 2011 and for criticizing the Bahraini government. Human rights groups have long complained that their trials were unjust and aimed at suppressing dissidents.
Since the strike began early last month, the protesting detainees have been demanding better living conditions, including an end to solitary confinement, access to proper medical care, and unrestricted family visits.
Advocates and the prisoners’ relatives alleged that the conditions within Jau prison are grim: Inmates spend nearly 23 hours a day in their cells and have limited access to medical attention. Some reports allege physical, sexual, and psychological abuse.
The hunger strike has also triggered protests by families of the prisoners who have taken to the streets to demand the release of their relatives. Observers said that while these demonstrations are small in scale, they are considered very significant considering the vehemence with which the Bahraini government cracks down on its critics.
Meanwhile, the Bahraini government has denied the allegations of medical neglect and limited visitation rights, adding that the prison conditions are in line with international standards.