Bahraini Human Rights Activist Abdulhadi Al Khawaja Nearing Death
Middle East/North Africa, Human Rights
Update: According to CNN, Abdulhadi Al Khawaja has decided to conclude his hunger strike. For more information, go to: http://edition.cnn.com/2012/05/28/world/meast/bahrain-rights-activist/
April 6 -- According to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), the life of jailed prominent human rights activist Abdulhadi Al Khawaja is at serious risk after a 58-day hunger strike. Al Khawaja is the founder of BCHR and the Gulf Center for Human Rights and a former Middle East and North Africa director of Front Line Defenders. According to doctors, Al Khawaja has lost 25% of his weight and may suffer from cardiac arrest or slip into a coma at any time. His body already shows signs of kidney failure.
BCHR reports that "Al Khawaja was subjected to severe torture and sexual assault leading to fractures in his face including a broken jaw, as documented in case number 8 in the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry report. While in recovery from surgery after the incident, the Bahraini authorities continued to torture him. Abdulhadi Al Khawaja was sentenced to life in prison by a military court in June 2011 on fabricated charges of terrorism and attempting to overthrow the regime. In November the military court rejected the appeal in Al Khawaja's case. On April 2, 2012 the Court of Cassation refused Al Khawaja's lawyer's appeal to release him on health grounds, despite his continuously deteriorating health condition in detention." He has pledged to continue his protest until "freedom or death."
The Bahraini monarchy has increased its targeting of rights activists in the wake of peaceful protests in Spring 2011 that demanded government respect for human rights and political reform. Riot police forces continue to attack daily demonstrations across Bahrain, many of which are now demanding the release of Al Khawaja. A family lawyer confirmed that authorities arrested Al Khawaja's daughter Zainab, herself an activist well known as Angry Arabiya, for tweeting on human rights abuses in the country, while demonstrating in front of the prison where her father is being held.
The World Movement urges participants to contact their respective governments, human rights bodies, and other intergovernmental institutions to call for Al Khawaja's immediate release and to protest the Bahraini government's negligence of his health. The World Movement also expresses its solidarity with his daughter, Zainab, and calls on the Bahraini government to cease its persecution of pro-democracy rights activists.
For more information, go to:
To sign a petition calling for Al Khawaja's immediate release, go to:
To write to the Kingdom of Bahrain's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, go to:
To read the Project on Middle East Democracy's open letter to President Obama, go to:http://pomed.org/blog/2012/04/dear-obama-al-khawaja-must-be-released-immediately.html/#.T4M8GWMk6dA