Bahrain: Bahrain: GCHR Founder Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja on hunger strike since 12 April
On 12 April 2017, the Founding Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, started a new hunger strike demanding that the human and civil rights of all prisoners be respected by the prison administration. It’s his fifth hunger strike since his arrest in April 2011, after which he was sentenced to life in prison for his human rights activities.
Please see below the latest updates that GCHR has received:
02 May 2017:
This is the 21st day of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja's hunger strike. He said he'll decide whether to suspend it or not depending on what gets adopted at the UN's Universal Periodic Review on Bahrain on Friday, 05 May 2017 [started from 01 May.] So the hunger strike continues for now. In regards to his health it's the same as we don't know his vital signs.
Since Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja stopped allowing them to check his vital signs, prison guards have been conducting surprise visits in the middle of the night, shouting and waking everyone up. They also go to him at random times, whether he's in the bathroom or otherwise, open the door and film him. He said that they have also at times followed him carrying food and filming. Al-Khawaja stressed that the treatment has gotten worse in the past week or so. There are no updates about his health specifics.
Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja said that he is willing to suspend (not end) the hunger strike if there are strong statements during Bahrain's Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on Monday 01 May about the continuation of arbitrary arrests and detention in Bahrain, as well as the prison conditions.
At a public gathering in Dublin on 20 April 2017, organised by Front Line Defenders and the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), Professor Damian McCormack made a public call for the medical evacuation of both Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and Nabeel Rajab to receive the appropriate treatment in Ireland, where he can assist with their health care as a matter of immediate urgency due to their critical conditions. The evacuation call was echoed by Tara Reynor O’Grady of Human Rights Sentinel, and other Irish participants. See: https://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/1565
Since the afternoon of 18 April until today he has had no contact with the prison administration and has not been taken to the prison clinic. He does not know what his current weight, blood sugar, or blood pressure rates are. After he ended his phone call to the family on 19 April his condition began to deteriorate and yesterday morning (20 April) they brought an ambulance in an attempt to transfer him to either military or fort hospital. Because the doctor he spoke to previously told him that if he loses consciousness they would go ahead with force-feeding, he refused the transfer and remained in the jail. As he was worried that he would lose consciousness and be transferred against his will, he began to drink the necessary liquids to stay conscious. Since then, his condition has improved but he still suffers from exhaustion, general weakness, and dizziness.
When his blood sugar level dropped to 2 mmol/L he had intense stomach aches - so he started to slowly drink water with salt and it made it better. Now his blood sugar level keeps fluctuating between 2 and 3 mmol/L. Since the beginning of the hunger strike he wasn’t forced to wear shackles to see the doctor or go to the prison clinic. Yesterday afternoon he was informed of a decision that he has to be handcuffed to go to the clinic; and since then he hasn't seen a doctor. So since yesterday until now he has no information about his blood pressure or sugar level. Until day before yesterday his weight is 56kg, and his blood pressure 80-90/60-70 (mm Hg). He has intense pain in his lower back, the pain reminds him of when he had kidney stones previously; and has trouble urinating.
Also since the beginning of the hunger strike he's been having muscle spasms - where if he folds his arm for example it'll spasm and it takes time before he can straighten it again. They've been trying to move him to the military hospital, but he's refusing due to the force feeding he was subjected to in 2012 at that hospital.
Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja's blood sugar level has gone down to 2 mmol/L, he's refusing IV treatment.
He is on his 3rd day of the hunger strike. He had to be moved to the hospital last night and given two bags of IV due to low blood sugar.
12 April (first day of strike):
Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja started his open ended hunger strike today in protest at continued arbitrary detentions and degrading treatment of prisoners in Bahrain. His current weight is 63 kg and his height is 172 cm. His last meal was dinner last night (11 April). He's drinking water so it's not a dry hunger strike.
GCHR has one ultimate demand which is the immediate medical evacuation of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja outside Bahrain as his life is at imminent risk and he needs urgent, proper medical care.