Bahrain: Take action for Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, denied medical treatment and calls
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) is seriously concerned about reprisals and lack of medical treatment for leading Bahraini human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, who is currently serving a life sentence in prison. Al-Khawaja was informed that he will not be allowed to make any calls, and complained of being denied urgent medical treatment. GCHR, which Al-Khawaja co-founded, asks supporters to demand that he be given proper medical treatment and allowed to call his family. Please continue to tweet calling on the authorities to unconditionally release Al-Khawaja and all prisoners of conscience in Bahrain.
Maryam Al-Khawaja released recordings on Twitter from phone calls and information about the state of her father’s health. On 30 March 2022, she tweeted: “We’re very worried about my father who called this morning and said he won’t be allowed to make anymore calls, and was chanting Free #Bahrain, Free #Palestine.” Since February 2022, prison authorities have denied him medical treatment and tests, including suspected glaucoma, which a doctor warned could lead to blindness in his right eye.
Al-Khawaja told his family he was expecting retaliation for his chants for freedom, by having his phone calls cut, but did not think not that the authorities would deny him access to all his medical treatment, especially to treat his deteriorating vision, as well as spine and facial injuries. All of his health problems are related to poor treatment and torture, as well as repeated hunger strikes that he undertook to protest prison conditions for all prisoners.
Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja said, “I spoke to the 2 star officer who came to see me when they realized I was very upset. I told him that they were not doing me any favors, that they were simply treating me for the damage they did to me. Whether the injuries were old or new, they had caused them. As such, I have decided to reopen my case for international attention and reopen the file about torture specifically. The officer said one thing to me, he told me ‘there is nobody here for you.’”
He continued, “I told him that I considered that a direct threat and that I didn’t know what exactly they meant to do, but that I considered it a clear threat. I also told him that their threats did not scare me and that I would prove him wrong. I would prove that there are people who know I’m in prison and they know what is happening to me.”
Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja has the support of people around the world and has been awarded the 2022 Martin Ennals Award for his ongoing activism. He is the co-founder of GCHR and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. He was arrested and sentenced to life in prison for his leading role in the pro-democracy protests in 2011, as part of a group of human rights defenders and activists collectively known as the Bahrain 13. He was featured in the #FreeBahrainiPrisoners campaign in November and December 2021, including in this video.
Another member of the Bahrain 13 who is also serving a life sentence, Dr. Abduljalil Al-Singace, has been on hunger strike since 08 July 2021 in protest of degrading treatment in prison, particularly prolonged medical negligence and the confiscation of a book he wrote about Bahrain’s culture over four years while in prison. His fellow prisoners, including Al-Khawaja, along with GCHR and other rights groups are extremely concerned that he has lost a lot of weight and is suffering a number of health complications after almost nine months without solid food. They have written numerous appeals to the United Nations and authorities to free him. Watch this video for Dr. Al-Singace’s 60th birthday in prison.
Take Action Now!
GCHR asks supporters to please tweet in English or Arabic calling on the authorities in Bahrain to:
- Immediately and unconditionally free Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, Dr. Abduljalil Al-Singace and all other human rights defenders from prison;
- While in prison, guarantee that all prisoners are afforded basic rights according to the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (Mandela Rules), including to allow all prisoners to have phone calls with their families, and unhindered access to medical care and medical equipment; and to ensure they are not subjected to ill-treatment and abuse;
- Return all prisoners’ confiscated writings to them, including giving Dr. Al-Singace’s research to his family as requested;
- Hold accountable all those who involved in human rights violations, especially torture and extrajudicial killings; and
- Guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders in Bahrain are able to carry out their legitimate activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment; and
Please follow and use hashtags: #FreeBahrainiPrisoners, #FreeAlSingace, #FreeAlKhawaja
1. Minister of Interior: Shaikh Rashid bin ‘Abdullah Al-Khalifa @moi_Bahrain
2. Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs: Shaikh Khalid bin Ali bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa @Khaled_Bin_Ali
3. Ministry of Foreign Affairs, @bahdiplomatic
4. United Nations: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres @antonioguterres, @UNHumanRights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet @mbachelet, @UN_SPExperts