Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, renowned human rights advocate and past president of IFEX member the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) has been on hunger strike in prison since 8 February to protest a life sentence for peacefully expressing his right to freedom of expression. He pledged to continue his protest until "freedom or death." His life is now in serious danger and there may be irreparable damage to his health.
Over 50 people at UNESCO's World Press Freedom Day event in Tunisia on 3-5 May 2012 called for freedom for jailed human rights activist Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, founder of IFEX's member the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights and the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, whose life is at risk as he marks third month of hunger strike. (Maharat Foundation/IFEX). Find the campaign on Facebook to Free Al-Khawaja!
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Tweet this page, using the hashtag #savealkhawaja and #khawajaatrisk Post this to your Facebook page, asking your friends to join our campaign Change your profile picture to the photo above, including a link to the petition Download the image and take your own photo holding it and share it with friends. Tweet a message to the Bahrain Ministry of the Interior at @moi_bahrain on Twitter
Sign this petition, started by BCHR President Nabeel Rajab, calling for the immediate release of Al-Khawaja. The international community must act together now to save Al -Khawaja's life.
Reporters Without Borders launched a petition condemning the appallingly repressive policies of King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa's government since the start of the Arab spring and its current propaganda focus on the Formula One Grand Prix that was held in Bahrain from 20 to 22 April.
Al-Khawaja and another 20 activists, bloggers and human rights defenders were sentenced for their participation in peaceful protests last year. Al-Khawaja and several others were sentenced to life in prison, and 14 of them are in detention while the other seven were sentenced in absentia. There is no evidence that they advocated or carried out violence. They have alleged that they were tortured in detention and Al-Khawaja was treated for fractures to his face, among other abuses. The Court of Cassation, which heard the case on appeal, ordered a retrial on 30 April.
After a hearing on 2 April, Al-Khawaja informed his family and lawyer that he would stop his glucose intake. Al-Khawaja's health is poor and he had already fallen in and out of consciousness. As a result, he was moved to the main prisoners' hospital at the Ministry of Interior's headquarters.
In November 2011, the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), which was mandated by the King himself, called for all prisoners tried in military courts to be transferred to civilian courts and for investigations into allegations of torture. Despite these recommendations, human rights defenders, political activists and bloggers remain in jail or in hiding.
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. He has also documented human rights abuses in Bahrain for international human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Al-Khawaja is married and has four daughters. He's lived in exile in Denmark for decades, and returned to Bahrain after the government announced a general amnesty in 2001.