10 Years in Jail, No Family Visits: Danish-Bahraini Activist Goes on Hunger Strike

Published November 18th, 2021 - 09:09 GMT
Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja
Al-Khawaja was arrested in April 2011 in the wake of Arab Spring protests in Bahrain. (Twitter: @KenRoth)

For more than 10 years now, Bahraini human rights advocate Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja has been in jail for his role in the pro-democracy protests that spread across the country following the Arab Spring revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia.

Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja who has reported being tortured throughout his imprisonment has received life sentences in jail along with other Bahraini activists who supported protests.

Following his arrest in April 2011, Al-Khawaja was charged with "propaganda to overthrow or change the political system by force', 'publicly instigating hatred and disrespect against the ruling regime', and 'willfully broadcasting false and malicious news, statements or rumours and spread provocative propaganda related to the internal affairs of the country that could disturb public security and cause damage to the public interest".

This week, Al-Khawaja's family reported that he has started a new hunger strike to protest being banned from receiving phone calls and visits from his family for the second consecutive year. Zaynab Al-Khawaja, Abdulhadi's daughter, has also warned that his father's health is deteriorating as a result of his hunger strike, hoping that authorities respond to his demands and save his life.

Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja was the president and the co-founder of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights which was established in 2002. He was arrested by authorities on several occasions prior to 2011 but was often released later.

Ever since his arrest in 2011, international organizations have urged Bahraini authorities to release him and to stop persecuting individuals who called for democracy and political freedom in the Gulf kingdom.

Moreover, the Danish government has been facing mounting pressure as it has been demanded to work harder to release Al-Khawaja who holds the country's citizenship. 

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