Prominent Bahraini Human Rights Activist on Hunger Strike: Report

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A prominent Bahraini human rights advocate has reportedly gone on hunger strike in protest against the torture and ill-treatment she has endured as the ruling Al Khalifah regime presses ahead with its heavy-handed crackdown on pro-democracy campaigners.

Informed sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Ebtisam al-Saegh, who works for Salam for Democracy and Human Rights, has been on an open-ended hunger strike since Tuesday to express outrage at being tortured during interrogation at the notorious Criminal Investigation Building after her last arrest on July 3, and being denied the right to meet her family members or contact her lawyer.

The sources noted that Saegh’s health condition was deteriorating, stressing that she had been kept in solitary confinement since her arrest earlier this month, Press TV reported.

The remarks come as rights group Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain has enumerated a list of restrictive measures that the Al Khalifah regime has taken against Saegh.

Manama regime officials imposed a travel ban on the human rights advocate last June and prevented her from attending the 35th session of the UN Human Rights Council in the Swiss city of Geneva.

In January, Saegh was summoned to Bahrain’s National Security Agency building in Muharraq, an island about 7 kilometers northeast of the capital Manama. 

She was interrogated for her human rights activities, and one of the officers told her that she had presented a “bad” image of Bahrain. 

Before leaving the building, she was warned that “her next visit would be a different one.”

In March, Saegh’s sister was summoned and questioned about her whereabouts while the activist was attending a Human Rights Council session in Geneva.

On March 21, 2017, she was taken to the security building in Muharraq for interrogation upon arrival at Bahrain International Airport from Switzerland.

In April, Saegh was interrogated again, and was prevented from attending another session of the Human Rights Council.

On May 15, the human rights activist’s car went up in flames in an apparent attack. The Interior Ministry, however, claimed that the fire was caused by a short circuit.

Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the country in mid-February 2011.

They are demanding that the Al Khalifah dynasty relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.

Manama has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist Bahrain in its crackdown.

Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown.

On March 5, Bahrain’s parliament approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals in a measure blasted by human rights campaigners as being tantamount to imposition of an undeclared martial law countrywide.   

Bahraini monarch King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah ratified the constitutional amendment on April 3.

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