Tuberculosis outbreak strikes controversial Bahrain prison
Jau Central Prison in Bahrain is notorious for its inhumane conditions and the large number of political prisoners arrested on dubious charges
By News Desk - June 05 2022

Bahraini political prisoner Ahmed Jaber after he was fitted with a head brace due to complications of tuberculosis spreading to his bones. (Photo credit: Al Mayadeen)

An outbreak of pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) has spread at the controversial Jau Central Prison in Bahrain.

The Jau Central Prison in Bahrain is known for housing several political prisoners arrested on dubious charges, and for its notoriously unhealthy conditions.

Bahraini human rights activist Ebtisam al-Sayegh has said that diseases spread in the prison as a result of neglected prison conditions, lack of care for prisoners, delayed treatment, and overcrowding.

Several political prisoners, arrested for peaceful dissent against policies by the ruling family, have either been confirmed to have contracted TB, are displaying symptoms, or are at risk of the contagious disease.

One prisoner, Hassan Abdullah Habib, fell ill recently and was sent to Salmaniya Hospital, where he was diagnosed with TB.

Habib suffers from the blood diseases sickle cell anemia and thalassemia, for which he has not been adequately treated during his eight years in prison.

Another political prisoner, Ahmad Jaber, was released in late February to receive treatment for TB, according to the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy.

Jaber was only removed from the prison after detainees protested by banging on their cell doors.

Three prisoners, who were in close proximity to Jaber, have since shown symptoms of TB, but yet have not received any medical attention.

Jaber now wears a head brace to prevent damage to his neck and upper body.

According to his family, political prisoner Nizar al-Wadaei is also displaying TB symptoms and has been held in solitary confinement.

An investigation by journalist Sondoss al-Asaad for Al Mayadeen found that, instead of improving the health conditions of detainees, especially those suffering from chronic diseases or cancer, Bahrain’s Ministry of Interior and the General Secretariat for Grievances and the National Institute for Human Rights (NIHR), persistently turn a blind eye to prisoner health and prison conditions in Jau Central Prison.

Exiled Bahraini spiritual leader, Ayatollah Isa Qassem, has criticized the horrendous conditions in Jau Central Prison.

“One of the ugliest things the government does is to use prisoners as a political bargaining chip, as they did when the coronavirus spread in prisons,” the exiled spiritual leader said on Twitter.

On 20 June 2016, Bahraini authorities arbitrarily revoked the citizenship of Ayatollah Qassem on allegations of actions that were contrary to state loyalty.

Bahraini citizens held several non-violent sit-ins outside the home of Ayatollah Qassem to protect him from harm by Bahraini security forces.

Ayatollah Qassem issued a statement on 25 May on the upcoming general elections in November, warning that if elections do not serve as a platform to reflect the popular will of all Bahraini citizens, regardless of sect, then such elections “reinforce dictatorship under the guise of democracy,” and should be boycotted by the people.

Former Qatari prime minister Hamad bin Jassim gave an interview earlier this year, where he confirmed that Bahraini authorities intentionally lock up political dissidents under false pretexts.

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