Photo on the left: 45 women and girls were arrested at City Center Shopping Mall, Bahrain, 23 Sep 2011

11 Nov 2011 Ashwaq Almagabi, 17 years old girl, one of 7 minors and 38 women arrested in the city centre case following a peaceful protest, suffers from severe degree sickle cell which worsened due to prison condition and ill-treatment; she has been hospitalized more than once to then be admitted to Salmanyia hospital for weeks before the doctor ordered her release. Today she was re-arrested from the hospital by the police to start her 6 months imprisonment sentence.

Ashwaq was first arrested on 23 Sep 2011 along with another 45 women and girls after participating in a march at the shopping mall City Center. They were apprehended without arrest orders, interrogated without lawyers present and some of them reportedly tortured or otherwise ill-treated[1]. Since her detention Ashwaq was admitted several times to the hospital to get treatment for her sickle cell and for the past month she was staying at hospital. She was sentenced to 6 months imprisonment on 19 Oct 2011 by the criminal court along with another 11 women and 2 men. Her lawyer has requested an appeal which is due for hearing on 14 Nov 2011 and has also requested the release of Ashwaq for health condition[2].

BCHR believes that Ashwaq and the other persons in the same case were sentenced for practicing freedom of expression and the harsh imprisonment sentences they have received are a result of a political judgment.

In addition BCHR finds it very concerning that Ashwaq is being taking to the prison, where available information on the prison conditions doesn't suggest its suitability for her case as a sickle cell patient, putting risk on her life.

According to latest published information by the Bahrain Society for Human Rights after their 2009 visit to the women prison, there is no permanent nurse, and no visiting doctor to check on the inmates. Some cells do not have windows, so neither light nor natural ventilation enter the room. The report also observed that there were no chairs in the cells. The inmates had to use their bed to sit on. Also, there were only 6 toilets and 6 showers for all the inmates to share, and one of the toilets was broken, which could be dangerous for the inmates. They can use it as a means of self-harm, especially when suffering from depression due to torture. The public toilets can transmit infections, not to mention that there is no soap for washing hands after the use of the toilets and no toilet paper. Moreover, adolescents and young girls are rounded up with people convicted in criminal cases of various nationalities and some with criminal records. Prisoners are not separated according to their quality and nature of the charges against them. Since no other visit was granted to any independent organisation since the BSHR visit, there is no confirmation that these conditions has been improved.

BCHR urges all responsible parties and organizations to take every action in hand to secure the immediate release of Ashwaq Almagabi and all other 11 women and 2 men sentenced with her in the same case for merely practicing freedom of speech and right to assembly. Please act immediately to guarantee the safety and wellbeing of Ashwaq.

[1]Amnesty International: Torture fears for Bahraini women and girls in detention

Amnesty International: Women and girls detained in Bahrain