Bahraini Human Rights Activist Abdulhadi Al Khawaja Nearing Death

Democracy Alert

[May 29, 2012]

Bahraini Human Rights Activist Abdulhadi Al Khawaja Nearing Death

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Update: According to CNN, Abdulhadi Al Khawaja has decided to conclude his hunger strike.  For more information, go to:


Original Release


April 6 -- According to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), the life of jailed prominent human rights activist Abdulhadi Al Khawaja is at serious risk after a 58-day hunger strike. Al Khawaja is the founder of BCHR and the Gulf Center for Human Rights and a former Middle East and North Africa director of Front Line Defenders. According to doctors, Al Khawaja has lost 25% of his weight and may suffer from cardiac arrest or slip into a coma at any time. His body already shows signs of kidney failure.


BCHR reports that "Al Khawaja was subjected to severe torture and sexual assault leading to fractures in his face including a broken jaw, as documented in case number 8 in the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry report. While in recovery from surgery after the incident, the Bahraini authorities continued to torture him. Abdulhadi Al Khawaja was sentenced to life in prison by a military court in June 2011 on fabricated charges of terrorism and attempting to overthrow the regime. In November the military court rejected the appeal in Al Khawaja's case. On April 2, 2012 the Court of Cassation refused Al Khawaja's lawyer's appeal to release him on health grounds, despite his continuously deteriorating health condition in detention." He has pledged to continue his protest until "freedom or death."

The Bahraini monarchy has increased its targeting of rights activists in the wake of peaceful protests in Spring 2011 that demanded government respect for human rights and political reform. Riot police forces continue to attack daily demonstrations across Bahrain, many of which are now demanding the release of Al Khawaja. A family lawyer confirmed that authorities arrested Al Khawaja's daughter Zainab, herself an activist well known as