Open Letter to the Government of Bahrain: Respect the Rights of Al-Khawaja Family

Khalifa Bin Salman, Prime Minister of Bahrain - Source: Reuters

Joint Statement

14 Apr 2012

Maryam Al-Khawaja, a 24 year old woman human rights defender from Bahrain, has been doing extensive work on documenting human rights violations prior to and during the February 14th uprising in Bahrain. She is the head of international relations and advocacy officer at the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and left Bahrain in March 2011 to testify about violations in Bahrain. She has not been able to go back to Bahrain since for the fear of detention and torture. Also, there was an attempt to ban her from entering Egypt on April 2nd, 2012 due to the fact that she is a prominent Bahraini woman human rights defender.

Moreover, Zainab Al-Khawaja, 28 years old, another daughter of Abdul-Hadi Al-Khawaja, the Bahraini human rights defender, has been detained several times, the last time was on April 5th, 2012 while she was on her way to the military hospital to see her father. In addition, Wafi Al-Majed, her husband who is not involved in politics was detained and tortured for 10 months just for being related to the family.

Abdul-Hadi Al-Khawaja is an internationally prominent human rights defenders who was beaten unconscious in front of his family, detained, severely tortured, and tried before a military court and received a life sentence in prison accordingly on June 22nd, 2011. He decided to start a hunger strike on February 8th, 2012 following three other hunger strikes, which led to the deterioration of his health dramatically as he has been on a hunger strike for more than two months now. As women human rights defenders, Zainab and Maryam have been and continue to be subjected to harassment, detention and intimidation inside as well as outside of Bahrain.

We call on the Bahraini government to put an end to the violations against Zainab Al-Khawaja, to grant the freedom of movement to Maryam Al-Khawaja so that she can go back to Bahrain to see her father without banning her from leaving the country later on. We call on the Bahraini government to immediately and unconditionally release Abdul-Hadi Al-Khawaja and all other prisoners of conscience. We call on the Bahraini Government to end the harassment and intimidation against women human rights defenders and their families in Bahrain that come in the form of arbitrary detention and interrogation among other forms of violations against them.

For more information on Human Rights violations in Bahrain and how to take action, please see:

Signatory NGOs:
1. Nazra for Feminist Studies.
2. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies.
3. Secularism Is A Women's Issue.
4. Women Living Under Muslim Laws.
5. The Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement.