On August 13, 2010, Abdul Jalil Al-Singace, a former scholar of mechanical engineering at the University of Bahrain and a leader of the Haq Movement for Civil Liberties and Democracy, was reportedly arrested and subsequently detained in an undisclosed location for six months in apparent retaliation for his human rights activism. Professor Al-Singace was released in February 2011; however, he was rearrested in March 2011, and has since been sentenced to life in prison on allegations stemming from his activism.
In August 2010 Professor Al-Singace travelled to the United Kingdom where he gave a speech to the British House of Lords on Bahrain’s human rights situation. Upon returning to Bahrain on August 13, authorities reportedly arrested Professor Al-Singace on undisclosed charges. The authorities held Professor Al-Singace at an undisclosed location for six months, during which he reported being subjected to physical and psychological torture. He was released on February 23, after being pardoned by the king.
On March 17, after he participated in a pro-democracy protest, dozens of security officers reportedly raided Professor Al-Singace’s home, arrested him, and took him to a police station where he was allegedly beaten and threatened. Professor Al-Singace was detained incommunicado until June 22 when a military court sentenced him to life in prison on charges of “plotting to overthrow the government.”
Professor Al-Singace has reported that, since his imprisonment, his pre-existing health problems have gotten worse, and new issues have developed as a result of alleged torture and ill treatment at Jau Prison, which includes denied access to regular medical treatment. In March 2015, Professor Al-Singace reportedly led a hunger strike to protest conditions at Jau Prison, and soon after was transferred to Qalaa hospital, while being held in solitary confinement. On January 28, 2016, Professor Al-Singace reportedly ended his hunger strike, after a total of 313 days.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arbitrary detention, prosecution and alleged torture and ill treatment of a scholar, in apparent retaliation for the peaceful exercise of freedom of expression and association – conduct which is protected by internationally recognized human rights standards including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Bahrain has acceded. State authorities have a responsibility not to interfere with scholars’ expressive activity, so long as that activity is undertaken peacefully and responsibly. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, detention and prosecution aimed at limiting such expressive activity has a chilling effect on academic freedom and undermines democratic society generally.
UPDATE: On November 2, 2015, Bahraini authorities temporarily released Professor Al-Singace to attend his mother’s funeral. She passed away on October 29; however, the family delayed the funeral until November 2 in order for Professor Al-Singace and his brother to attend.