BAHRAIN / Detained April 9, 2011
UPDATE: On January 15, 2019, Al-Khawaja and other members of “the Bahrain 13”—the name given to 13 Bahraini opposition leaders, rights activists, bloggers arrested and charged for participating in peaceful demonstrations in 2011—were informed that all future visits by their family will be conducted behind a glass wall—a procedure normally reserved for violent criminals, not prisoners of conscience.
Bahraini authorities arrested Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, former President and Co-Founder of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) for his involvement in the country’s peaceful 2011 pro-democracy Pearl Uprising. On June 22, 2012, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for allegedly organizing and managing a “terrorist organization,” (a designation given to many civil society organizations in Bahrain), and attempting to overthrow the government.
Al-Khawaja initiated a hunger strike to protest new repressive rules imposed upon him and other prisoners at Jaw Prison in spring 2017. In addition to routinely being denied urgent medical treatment, prisoners must now be shackled whenever they leave their cells and are forced to undergo a full body strip. Additionally, prisoners are unable to leave their locked cells for most of the day, limiting their access to toilets. A month later, Al-Khawaja ended his hunger strike due to health complications, but the inhumane conditions at Jaw Prison remain.