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Prisoners Continue their Hunger Strike Despite Promises

Bahrain Mirror: More than 800 political prisoners in Bahrain are entering their fourth week of hunger strike, and for the first time in a long time, the government seems helpless and placed in a narrow corner, facing media and political pressure without its ability to maneuver.

At first, the Interior Ministry tried as usual to ignore the matter, but the prisoners' continued strike for more than two weeks and the letter recently sent by activists to the crown prince that was published in media outlets (which indirectly held the crown prince responsible for what would happen to the detainees), tightened the noose on their necks.

Salman bin Hamad received the Minister of Interior, and no one, of course, has knowledge of what took place in this meeting. Meanwhile, the head of the National Institute for Human Rights was visiting Jaw Prison and meeting with hunger strikers to listen to their demands. The next day, the Minister of Interior received the President of the National Human Rights Committee, and during the meeting he announced reviewing a number of measures.

Circling back to the statement published by the Bahrain News Agency, we will find that all of the above were only empty promises, and that no decision was taken regarding any of these issues.

The statement says, for instance, "the health services provided to inmates by government hospitals were discussed" without clarifying what this means, the statement also adds "reviewing the system of visits with inmates and developing it to include increasing visit duration," and the word "review" does not necessarily mean making any specific decision.

The Interior Ministry statement continues that during the meeting, they also discussed "increasing the daily rest time (sunbathing), and with regard to increasing the call tariff, there is ongoing coordination with the telecommunications company on reviewing this matter."

The Minister of the Interior, who has the authority to do so, could have said during the meeting that he had decided to increase the sunbathing time, or increase the number of family members and modify the conditions of the visitor list... But he preferred to keep his options open, which means that he will not make any concessions in the future, if the prisoners end the strike today.

The prisoners decided to continue their strike until their demands were met, which was expected after the statement was full of empty promises, and if they agreed to this, it would have been exactly like buying fish in the sea.

Another dilemma stands in the way of resolving the prisoners' demands is related to the style and mindset of the Minister of Interior himself, as he is a minister of aggravation mainly, and is known for his extremist views and harsh attitude, and therefore we did not see anyone from the Ministry of Interior officially go to negotiate with prisoners. Even the extended sunbathing time came as a unilateral step without reference to the hunger strikers, and it reminds us of the origin of the political problem with the government that has always decided to make fateful decisions unilaterally since the 2002 constitution to this day.

Of course, the government is the strongest party in the equation, and its interior minister is extremist and inflammatory, the prisoners are aware of all these facts and complexities, but they see themselves in a continuous struggle, in which victory is not achieved by a knockout blow from this or that party, but with a point system. Whoever earns the most points wins in the end, and this strike is only a round through which they hope to earn points that will eventually give them their basic rights behind bars, even if their basic right is to be free and not in prison because of their opinions.

Arabic Version