Blind Bahraini prisoner launches hunger strike

By: Yumna Marwan

Published Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A blind Bahraini prisoner began a hunger strike Wednesday to protest ill treatment and medical neglect at the hands of Bahraini authorities, a local rights group said.

Ali Saad, who lost his eyesight as a result of a car explosion in 2009, has been detained for over two months, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights told Al-Akhbar.

The 28 year old began a hunger strike Wednesday to protest lack of adequate treatment in Bahraini jails.

“There’s a lot of concern about [Saad] because when he was first arrested he was just starting to cope with the fact that he was blind,” Maryam al-Khawaja, head of International relations at the BCHR told Al-Akhbar.

“In Bahraini prisons, you don’t have medical care or any kind of support for someone suffering from a recent disability,” al-Khawaja added.

Saad was arrested in 2009 and given a prison sentence of 10 years after being accused of taking part in the explosion that caused his disability.

But he was pardoned following the 2011 pro-democracy protests in the Gulf kingdom.

Saad was detained for the second time on 14 May 2013 following a raid on his house at dawn, the BCHR said, and has been in jail since.

According to Saad’s family, he was medically neglected when Bahraini authorities refused to send him to a medical complex for an appointment to treat his burn wounds.

“We were surprised that they didn’t transfer him to be treated, especially since he is blind,” a family member was quoted as saying in the Bahraini newspaper al-Wasat.

During his previous detention, Saad was subjected to different types of torture including electric shocks, hanging, and beatings, the BCHR said.

The Bahraini rights group regularly documents the ill treatment of activists in prisons, including beatings and torture in order to pressure inmates to sign confessions.

In April, Bahrain cancelled the visit of the United Nations envoy on torture, Juan Mendez, for the second time.

(Al-Akhbar)

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