With fears creeping to every corner of the world over the widespread of the novel coronavirus that has taken almost 6k lives worldwide thus far, activists in a number of Middle Eastern countries have been calling for an immediate release of thousands of prisoners of conscience.
Hours after the Iranian government has announced its plans to release about 70k inmates, online activists in Iran, Egypt, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia launched multiple social media campaigns calling for immediate action to ensure the safety of political detainees.
Struck hard with the Covid-19, Iran has more than 12k cases and 600 deaths, including many among senior officials.
We urge the World Health Organization to press the revolutionary authority in Egypt to release 100,000 detainees in Egyptian prisons for fear of the spread of the Corona virus, as the numbers of detainees in the same room .
— GABERKOTB (@gaber_kotb) March 12, 2020
In Bahrain, where there are more than 200 confirmed cases of Coronavirus patients, the King issued a decree granting pardon to 901 prisoners.
As nations across the globe struggle with the spread of the novel coronavirus, Bahrain has ordered the release of hundreds of prisoners, part of a thinly veiled effort to contain the pandemic, rights groups contend https://t.co/zFNqRlS2zi
— Prison_Health (@Prison_Health) March 14, 2020
Social media users expressed deep concern over the possibility of thousands of prisoners contracting the deadly Coronavirus while in detention centers, saying that prison cells are so crowded already that even one case can result in a devastating tragedy in no time.
Translation: “Prisons are the worst places when it comes to an epidemic, there’s no healthcare or humane treatment. Hundreds of prisoners are chronically sick.”
Human rights groups have repeatedly warned of worsening health conditions of prisoners of conscience in several Middle Eastern countries. They have for years demanded that better healthcare be provided to the thousands of political prisoners, especially that many of them were put behind bars with no clear or reasonable charges.