Bahraini female detainees go on hunger strike

Authorities have cracked down on political dissent in Bahrain.

MANAMA - Five Bahraini female political prisoners have gone on hunger strike to protest against ill-treatment and a glass barrier that prevents contact with visitors, a rights group said on Friday.
Four of the detainees at Issa Town Women's Prison required medical help on their fourth day of the strike on Friday, the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) said in a statement.
It cited detainees and family members as saying that one prisoner, 49-year-old Hajar Mansoor Hassan, was taken to hospital early Friday and returned several hours later.
Three other detainees -- Najah al-Sheikh, Amira al-Qashami and Medina Ali -- also needed medical treatment, it said.
The fifth woman prisoner on hunger strike is Zainab Marhoon.
The women are demanding an end to their humiliation and ill-treatment by prison staff and the removal of the glass barrier, BIRD said.
Hassan, who is the mother-in-law of a BIRD official, is due to be sentenced on October 30 along with her son and nephew over confessions that were extracted under torture, BIRD said.
They face up to three years in jail.
Bahraini authorities on Sunday temporarily freed female activist Ebtisam al-Saegh, who has accused the government of torture while she was in custody.
Two other activists, Radhi al-Qatari and Mohammed al-Shakhoori, were also released until their trials on similar charges, according to BIRD.
In April, parliament gave approval for military courts to try civilians charged with "terrorism", a vaguely defined legal term in the Sunni-ruled kingdom.
Authorities have cracked down on political dissent since a wave of protests erupted in 2011 demanding an elected government in the Shiite-majority country.
A key US ally located between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Bahrain is home to the US Fifth Fleet and a British military base that is still under construction.