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.
In reaction to the November 2011 report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), the government admitted that serious abuses had taken placed and promised to implement a number of the BICI’s recommendations. Over a year and half later, however, freedoms of association, assembly and expression remain curtailed. Activists continue to be targeted and jailed for speaking out, and penalties have been increased for “offending” the King.
What else you can do
- Share this action by email and on social media.
- Write your own letter. A personal letter makes a difference.
Please write to the authorities in Bahrain calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Abdulhadi al-Khawaja on the grounds that he is a prisoner of conscience. You can also call on them to:
- Ensure Abdulhadi al-Khawaja is protected from further torture and other ill-treatment.
- Initiate an independent investigation into the allegations of torture and ill-treatment and bring anyone found responsible to justice.
- Ensure Abdulhadi al-Khawaja has regular access to his lawyer, family, and to any medical care he may require.
The King of Bahrain
Shaikh Hamad bin ‘Issa Al Khalifa
Office of His Majesty the King
P.O. Box 555
Rifa’a Palace, al-Manama,
Fax: +973 1766 4587
Salutation: Your Majesty
Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs
Shaikh Khalid bin Ali Al Khalifa
P. O. Box 450, al-Manama,
Fax: +973 1753 1284
Salutation: Your Excellency
Dr Fatima Mohamed Al-Balooshi
Minister of Human Rights and Social Development
I am deeply concerned that human rights defender Abdulhadi al-Khawaja was sentenced to life in prison after an unfair and politically motivated trial before a military court in June 2011. I urge you to immediately and unconditionally release him on the grounds that he is a prisoner of conscience jailed solely for his peaceful advocacy work.
I am further concerned that Abdulhadi Khawaja was reportedly beaten so badly that he has permanent damage to his jaw. The Bahraini authorities should initiate an independent investigation into the allegations of torture and ill-treatment and bring anyone found responsible to justice.
While he remains in detention, please ensure that Abdulhadi Khawaja is protected from further torture and other ill-treatment, and that he has regular access to his lawyer, family, and any medical care he may require.