The Religious Freedom Unit in Bahrain Interfaith has called on the Government of Bahrain to immediately stop harassing prisoners of conscience and put a complete halt on restrictions imposed on prisoners during the practice of religion and faith. “The complaints received confirm that prisoners of conscience are not only subjected to torture and ill-treatment but are also subjected to harassments and intimidation’s for the practice of their religious rituals,”
BI Stated that “International conventions and human rights laws protect freedom of belief and religion and the practice of religious rites in or outside prisons. The statement also pointed out to The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Mandela Rules) that clearly states in Rule 66 that every prisoner shall be allowed to satisfy the needs of his or her religious life by attending the services provided in the prison and having in his or her possession the books of religious observance and instruction of his or her denomination. The statement stressed that prohibiting Shiite books and rituals is a clear violation of Article 19 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that states that “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice, and Article 18 that states that “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion… either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”
The Religious Freedom Unit revealed that the majority of Shiite books are prohibited in the prisons of Bahrain, including the books of Ayatollah Sayed Ali al-Sistani, the grand Shiite scholar living in Najaf.
The Religious Freedom Unit called for an immediate halt to degrading treatment of political prisoners, allowing them to hold religious rites freely, lifting imposed restrictions on religious freedom, and granting thousands of detainees their right to receive and impart information and read books without restrictions.
On August 18, 2019, hundreds of political prisoners in Bahrain declared a hunger strike, rejecting the inhumane treatment they are subjected to in an attempt to notify the international community of their suffering and to place pressure on authorities to respect the basic rights of political prisoners.