Author Topic: Demand freedom for Bahraini human rights defender and prisoner of conscience  (Read 1672 times)

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   Demand freedom for Bahraini human rights
          defender and prisoner of conscience
                     Abdulhadi al-Khawaja

Please add your name to Amnesty International's call for the immediate release of Abdulhadi al-Khawaja.

Abdulhadi 's story

Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, co-founder of The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, faces life in prison after an unfair trial before a military court in June 2011. His crime?  Being one of the leaders of popular and overwhelmingly peaceful anti-government protests in February and March 2011. During the trial no evidence was ever presented that he had committed a recognizable crime or used or advocated violence.

Security forces detained Abdulhadi al-Khawaja in the middle of the night on April 9, 2011. He was beaten so brutally during and after his arrest that his jaw was broken.  After several surgeries at the Bahrain Defence Force military hospital in al-Riffa’, he was returned to prison only to face further torture including the threat of sexual assault.

During their first visit in late 2011, he told his family "I really want to smile, but I can’t". His face is now held together by 18 plates and 36 screws.

From February to May 2012, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja undertook a 110 day hunger strike to protest his ongoing detention and Bahrain’s human rights situation.

The High Criminal Court of Appeal upheld the sentences of Abdulhadi al-Khawaja and 12 other opposition activists in September 2012. He remains in Jaw prison, in Manama. None of the allegations of torture – many of which were revealed during court hearings – have ever been addressed. Amnesty International considers all 13 activists to be prisoners of conscience.

Human Rights in Bahrain

At the height of the so-called “Arab Spring” in early 2011, the majority of Bahraini people joined protests demanding change.  Security forces reacted with a violent crackdown. Almost 50 people were killed and hundreds injured.  More than 4,000 protesters were dismissed from their jobs or expelled from university. Hundreds were arrested and tried before military courts. Over two years later, some are still serving sentences. Many reported torture and ill-treated in detention.