Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja

Right to freedom of opinion and expression
Bahrain Center for Human Rights

Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja is a Bahraini human rights defender. After participating in several peaceful demonstrations during the Arab Spring, he was arrested on April 9, 2011 and, according to witnesses from his family, he was also beaten. On June 22 of that year, he was sentenced to life imprisonment by the National Security Court, a military court; this sentence was later confirmed by another military court. Thirteen other activists were also sentenced: six to life imprisonment, four to fifteen years in prison, two to five years, and one to two years.

In prison, Al-Khawaja was denied visits and prevented from following the medical treatment he receives for his sugar problems. The activist has reported that he has been subjected to torture and ill-treatment, as a result of which he had to be admitted to the military hospital of the Bahrain Defense Force, in Al Riffa.

An Amnesty International observer present at one of the appeal hearings on 6 September 2012 concluded that no evidence can be presented to the court to prove that Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and the other thirteen activists they committed a crime or participated in violent acts. Amnesty International considers that these fourteen activists did not have a fair trial and that all of them are prisoners of conscience, imprisoned solely for their legitimate and peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.

On August 25, 2014, Adulhadi began a hunger strike that lasted 30 days. The family explained that the activist ended this strike because other detainees who were also holding it were falling ill. He told them to end the strike, and they replied that they would only do so if he did too. Abdulhadi ended his hunger strike on September 23, and the other detainees followed suit.

One of Adulhadi’s daughters, Maryam Al-Khawaja, who participated last year in the Cities Defending Human Rights project, was arrested several times between August and September 2014. Another daughter, Zaynab Al-Khawaja, has also been imprisoned several times. After spending a year in prison to petition for her father’s release, she was released in February 2014. Again, on March 14, 2016, Zaynab was again arrested at her home and taken to prison, along with her 15-month-old daughter. She was sentenced to three years in prison for breaking a photograph of King Hamad bin Issa Al Khalifa of Bahrain. On May 31, 2016, the judicial authorities ordered the sentence to be suspended, and Zaynab was released for “humanitarian reasons.”


Interview with Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja

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