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UN calls on Bahrain to investigate repression of peaceful sit-in at notorious prison

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The file photo shows Bahraini anti-riot police during clashes with protesters in the eastern island of Sitra. (AP)

The United Nations (UN) has lambasted the use of “unnecessary and disproportionate” force used by Bahraini authorities to dismantle a peaceful sit-in at the notorious Jau prison in the country, calling for a thorough investigation into the matter.

In a statement on Friday, Marta Hurtado, spokeswoman for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said that the organization was “disturbed” upon hearing about the incident.

She also called on the ruling Al Khalifah regime in Manama to immediately launch a “thorough and effective” investigation into the violent repression of the sit-in at Jau prison, which is located south of the capital, and where inmates have purportedly been tortured in the past.

On April 5, prisoners at the prison commenced a protest to call attention to the persisting lack of access to medical treatment, a problem which has particularly “become a chronic problem” amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The peaceful sit-in began, which staged after a prisoner died due to a lack of healthcare access, was brutally repressed on April 17, when riot police entered the prison to dismantle the protest. They “threw stun grenades and beat detainees on their heads, badly injuring many of” the protesting inmates, the statement said.

“The authorities reportedly took 33 protestors to another building in the prison, where they are being kept incommunicado, and have been unable to make contact with families or lawyers, in violation of both national and international law,” Hurtado added.


“We call on the Government to immediately launch a thorough and effective investigation into the violent repression of the sit-in at Jau prison,” Hurtado said in her statement.

According to the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), up to a total of at least 60 prisoners have also been deemed missing.

Outside the prison, the detainees’ families had been holding small protests, demanding the release of political prisoners and better conditions for the inmates.


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