Rasa - Bahraini human rights activist Naji Ali Hassan Fateel, a member of the Board of Directors at Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR), said in an audio message that he and a number of other inmates at the notorious Jau Prison, south of the capital Manama, initiated the campaign on Sunday to demand they be allowed to observe their religious rituals, the Arabic-language Bahrain al-Youm news agency reported.
Fateel then appealed to international human rights organizations to support the hunger strikers, arguing that Bahraini state institutions have “lost their credibility as they cover up human rights abuses and violations.”
He also called on local authorities to respect the international principles, which stipulate inmates' right to free exercise of religious activities.
Fateel expressed regret that restrictive measures and rights abuses have increased in the run-up to the lunar calendar month of Muharram, when Shia Muslims commonly engage in mourning rituals to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (AS), the third Shia Imam and the grandson of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).
Bahrain al-Youm added that the prisoners had taken several measures of protest before the hunger strike, but all to no avail.
In addition to being deprived of practicing religious rituals, the striking prisoners complain about medical negligence, which has resulted in the spread of many diseases.
Bahrain has seen anti-regime protests over the past nine years. The major demand has been the ouster of the Al Khalifah regime and the establishment of a just and conclusive system representing all Bahraini nationals.
The Manama regime, in return, has ignored the calls and is pressing ahead with its heavy-handed crackdown and persecution of human rights campaigners and political dissidents.
Bahrain’s parliament approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals on March 5, 2017. The move drew widespread condemnation from human rights bodies and activists, and was described as imposition of an undeclared martial law across the country.
Bahrain’s monarch rubber-stamped the constitutional amendment on April 3 that year.