Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja (Bahrain)

Life sentence to a long history defending human rights in Bahrain

Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja is a historical human rights activist in Bahrain.

He has participated in the start-up of the Bahrain Centre of Human Rights (BCHR), and the Gulf Centre of Human Rights (GCHR) among others. After spending two decades abroad (from 1991, with recognized asylum in Denmark), he returned to Bahrain when Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa came to power and it seemed that a period of reform was beginning. The passing of the years, however, made clear the lack of political will to move towards a more democratic society was showed.

In 2011, Al-Khawaja participated in the protests that marked the arrival of the Arab Spring in Bahrain. Shortly after, he was brutally detained and sentenced to life in prison by a military court. In prison, he has suffered severe torture and mistreatment. He has carried out various hunger strikes, in protest for his situation and the abusive conditions of the Jaw prison.

The attempt to silence Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja reflects a systematic pattern of repression against any dissenting expression or protest. As Human Rights Watch denounces, any independent media operation in the country has been banned by the authorities, they have also dissolved all opposition groups and detention and conviction of activists and journalists continues.

The recent death of the Prime Minister, Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, who has ruled with an iron fist for the last five decades, generates few expectations of change.

In this context, Cities Defending for Human Rights has launched a signature campaign to claim the Kingdom of Bahrain:

  • Immediately release human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, who is imprisoned for legitimate and peaceful exercise of his rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, which are internationally recognized.
  • Release other prisoners of conscience who have been sentenced for political reasons.
  • Investigate the allegations of torture and mistreatment in Jaw prison, make the results of this investigation public and bring to justice the responsible for those abuses committed.

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