Bahrain: Jalila Al Salman and Rula Al Saffar go on hunger strike in protest at ongoing torture and ill treatment in custody
3 Aug 2011 Front Line is deeply concerned for the safety and well being of Mrs Jalila Al Salman, vice president of the Bahrain Teachers's Society and Mrs. Rula Al Saffar Assistant Professor at the College of Health Sciences and the Head of Bahrain Nursing Society, following reports received to day that they have gone on hunger strike in protest at their continuing torture and ill treatment while in custody. Further Information
There had been hopes that they would at least be released on trial pending the transfer of their trial to civilian courts to mark the start of Ramadan but so far there has been no improvement in their situation.
Jalila al-Salman Vice President of the Bahrain Teachers Association (BTA) is among several board members of the Bahrain Teachers’ Association (BTA) arrested in Manama after the group called for a teachers’ strike amid wide-scale pro-reform protests in March.
Prisoners who had been held in custody with her and then released have spoken of how she was particularly targeted for torture and ill treatment. She is the only woman prisoner facing charges of plotting to overthrow the government even though according to reports received she never made any political speeches or took part in strikes or demonstrations.
Mrs Al Saffar is a cancer survivor and founder of the National Association for Cancer Awareness. She had also been an active member of the Break the Blockade campaign in support of the Palestinian people of Gaza and had worked to deliver medical supplies and treatment to the people of Gaza
The Public Prosecutor's Office accused Mrs Al Saffar of publicly defaming officials from the Salmaneyya Medical Complex, the main public hospital in Bahrain, in articles published in local newspapers. She has consistently denied the charges against her. According to Osama Al-Osfoor, the director of the Public Prosecutor's Office, a complaint was received from some senior members of the medical complex's staff against Al-Saffar and Al-Demistani, claiming that they had published articles in the local press containing a smear campaign and defamatory language against them.
Front Line is calling on the Government of Bahrain to take immediate steps to guarantee the safety and well being of Rula Al Saffar and Jalila Al Salman and to release them on bail pending the resumption of their trial.