Abdul Hadi Abdulla Hubail Al-Khawaja is a Bahraini-Danish political activist. On 22 June 2011, Al-Khawaja and eight others were sentenced to life imprisonment following the suppression of pro-democracy protests against the Bahraini government.
In its article, IFEX joined human rights organisations from across the globe in calling for the unconditional and immediate release of prominent Bahraini human rights defender Abdul-Hadi al-Khawaja, who turns 60 on 5 April.
The organisation added that a few days after his birthday, 9 April, marks ten years since he was first arrested for organising protests calling for political reforms in 2011. On his birthday, human rights organisations from across the globe call for the unconditional and immediate release of Abdul- Hadi.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of pro-democracy protests which began in Bahrain’s capital, Manama, in February 2011. The demonstrations were brutally suppressed by the authorities resulting in the deaths of nearly 100 people and the arrest of thousands. Abdul-Hadi al-Khawaja was part of the “Bahrain 13”, a group of well-known opposition leaders arrested in March and April 2011 after calling for civil and political rights during the February uprising. A Bahraini military court sentenced them to life imprisonment in what is widely regarded as a series of unfair trials, added IFEX.
“In Bahrain, Abdul-Hadi al-Khawaja is turning 60. After 10 years of unjustified incarceration, mistreatment, and abuse, it will hardly be a happy occasion. But it is a moment to raise our voices, yet again, to call for an end to this inhumanity, to this injustice, and to demand his immediate release.” Annie Game, Executive Director, IFEX.
The organisation stressed that while in prison, Abdul-Hadi has been systematically tortured, physically and sexually abused and subjected to lengthy solitary confinement. Security personnel have also made sexual threats against his wife and daughter. A recent report by the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) shows those responsible for torturing and injuring the Bahraini human rights defender and other activists have never been held to account.
Moreover, Abdul-Hadi al-Khawaja has repeatedly gone on hunger strikes to protest his detention and his health has significantly deteriorated during the last ten years. Abdul-Hadi’s family are increasingly concerned about his well-being while in prison, where the cramped and unsanitary conditions put him at risk of contracting COVID-19.
His family haven’t seen him for over a year. According to their statement to IFEX they said: “Throughout the past decade we have missed him greatly, and have feared for his life. But today it has become worse, we have not seen him for more than a year as all visits have been cancelled, and fear his imprisonment could be a death sentence at a time when the pandemic is spreading inside Jau prison. Is a brutal arrest, severe torture and a 10 years imprisonment not enough punishment for a person whose only crime is peacefully calling for democracy and human rights? Is it not time for him to come home?”.
Together for Justice joins the calls for the immediate release of Abdul Hadi Al-Khawaja whose health has deteriorated seriously in Bahraini prisons, and the organisation hold the Bahraini authorities fully responsible for his life and health.