Channel: Bahrain Center for Human Rights
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Update: Bahrain: Prominent Human Rights Defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja Starts a New Hunger Strike


06 September 2014 - 13th day hunger strike - Updates

Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja has called his wife. She said his voice was very weak. When she asked him about his health he said "emotionally I am strong, physically its not in my hands anymore." and he added "It's not that I want to die; it's just that if I live I want to live as a free man. Think of it this way, we are free despite our chains, they are the prisoners despite their freedom. We sleep peacefully, because we are on a righteous path. They know of their atrocities and live in fear."


01 September 2014 - 8th day hunger strike - Updates

Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja is now in his 8th day of his hunger strike, and his health is in extreme danger. The family visited Adbulhadi Al-Khawaja this morning, and reported that he is very weak. Last night, doctors feared for his life after his blood sugar level would stubbornly not rise above 2.0, despite providing him with glucose in drinking water. They begged him to be transferred to a hospital, but he refused to be taken to any medical clinic. However, Abdulhadi consented to receiving an IV, and after this his blood sugar level rose to 11; it has stabilised this morning at 6. His blood pressure is at 80/55. He is suffering from a urinary track infection because of dehydration, and he has very little energy. The family requested an independent medical report from an Irish expert on these issues, and the full report can be found here


30 August 2014 - 6th day hunger strike - Updates

AlKhawaja has called his wife today. His blood sugar dropped to 2 and his blood pressure reached 90/55. He took water with glucose and his blood sugar increased to 3.1. He was visited by an official from the ombudsman for not more than five minutes. The official asked AlKhawaja about the reason of his hunger strike and if he knows it’s dangerous on his life. Alkhawaja passed a request through his wife to all NGOs to support the case of the prisoners who are currently on hunger strike at the dry dock detention center in Bahrain.


29 August 2014 - 5th day hunger strike - Updates

BCHR received information that HRD Abdulhadi AlKhawajah has called his family.  According to his wife, his voice was weak, and his breathing was heavy. He told his wife that after he fell on 28 August during prayer, a doctor, a nurse and an officer came to check his status. He did not lose consciousness. They wanted to give him IV fluids but he refused. He was given water with glucose and salts. His blood sugar increased to 3.1, and his blood pressure reached 95/55. He has severe muscular pain and in lower back. The doctor suspected a problem with the liver or kidneys but a blood test this morning (29 August) came back negative. Alkhawaja will continue his hunger strike. He will take water with glucose and salts to avoid losing consciousness. The doctor informed him that his condition is serious. Glucose is a temporary solution, but a sudden heart attack or coma are both possible if blood sugar continue to go down.


28 August 2014 - 4th day hunger strike - Update

This afternoon, BCHR received information that was reported by another inmate that shares a cell with Mr. Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja that he fell unconscious during prayers. No further information was provided to the family despite several calls made to the prison administration office.

His daughter Zainab AlKhawaja, attempted to reach the prison to check on his health. She was arrested and transferred to Riffa police station where she was charged with “entering a restricted area”. She was released at late hour after midnight.


26 August 2014- 2nd day hunger strike- Update

On Monday the 25th of August 2014, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja sent an official letter to the Director of Jau Prison and to the related official and judicial parties, to inform them of his beginning an open-ended hunger strike in protest against the continuation of arbitrary detention. In this letter, he mentioned his case and the decision of the arbitrary arrest committee of the United Nations which, after studying his case file, stated this his detention is considered arbitrary.

Mr. AlKhawaja clarified in this letter his complete refusal to recieve any kind of intravenous fluids or to be transferred to the hospital, including Jau prison clinic. His reason for this is what he was subjected to during his previous hunger strike (which lasted from the 9th of February to the 28th of May 2012) as he was forcibly transferred to the Bahrain Defence Force hospital (BDF), where he was forced to stay in isolation for a long period and was intermittently forbidden any contact with his family, lawyer, or the Danish embassy. This absence of communication was taken advantage of by the government to feed the media incorrect information. The intravenous fluids were also used to administer an anesthetic which caused him to lose consciousness long enough for them to tie him to the hospital bed and forcibly feed him through a nasogastric tube. This was done despite promises made to the contrary in front of the international red cross and the Danish Ambassador. Mr. AlKhawaja also mentioned what his daughter, Zainab Al-Khawaja, was subjected to when she attempted to visit him at the Fort Clinic and the BDF hospital as she was mistreated and detained, and then taken to court after they falsely accused her of assaulting security personnel.

Finally, Mr. Al-Khawaja stated that during this hunger strike he will be refusing all food and drinks except water, and consents to having tests done in the prison building where he is currently detained along with 12 other activists and political leaders who were arrested following the events of February 14, 2011.

Mr. AlKhawaja was visited by the officer on duty yesterday afternoon to inform him that his letter has been delivered to the officials, in an attempt to convince him to end his hungerstrike. He was visited again at 9pm along with the prison physician who attempted to convince him to agree to have intravenous fluids administered as the tests showed that his blood sugar levels had dropped to 3.7 mmol/L. Al-Khawaja refused.

As of the morning of 26 August 2014, Mr. AlKhawaja's blood sugar level reached 3.1 mmol/L and his weight is 63 kg. 



Sunday 24 August 2014, Bahrain - Joint Statement: Bahrain: Prominent Human Rights Defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja to Start a New Hunger Strike

Prominent human rights defender and founder of the Bahrain Centre for Human rights (BCHR) and the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR), Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, has declared an open hunger strike “in protest against the continuation of arbitrary arrest and detention.” In a statement made to members of his immediate family during a visit today, Mr. AlKhawaja declared that he would refuse all food and liquids with the exception of water. He also informed his family that due to the drugging, force feeding and the forced ending of his last hunger strike, he will also refuse to be taken to any hospital, the prison clinic or to receive any IV treatment during his strike.

Mr. Al-Khawaja was arbitrary arrested on 9 April 2011 and sentenced to life imprisonment by a military court in a grossly unfair trial for his peaceful and legitimate human rights activism. He was subjected to torture during both his arrest and detention. The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) found that this torture included severe beatings, sodomy, and psychological abuse resulting in a broken jaw which required immediate surgery. He was also sexually abused at the Bahrain Defense Force Hospital. His case (Number 8) is among the 60 cases of torture and/or ill treatment included in the annex of its report.

In October 2011, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found the detention of Mr. Al-Khawaja to be arbitrary in contravention of articles 19, 20 and 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and articles 9, paragraph 3, and 14, 21 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and called for his immediate release as an adequate remedy. They also raised doubts over the charges leveled against Mr. Al-Khawaja and found that the Government of Bahrain violated international norms to the right to a fair trial.

In April 2013, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of assembly and association, and the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers called for the immediate release of Mr. Al-Khawaja.

Archived photo from the 2012 hunger strike

Mr. Al-Khawaja started a hunger strike in 2012 that lasted 110 days to protest his arbitrary detention. During his strike, Mr. Al-Khawaja was drugged through an IV injection, restrained to the hospital bed and then force fed by a painful procedure using a tube through the nose at the Bahrain Defense Hospital. He now suffers from a number of medical conditions as a result of his treatment in detention. This has included cramps in his facial muscles, and acute pain in his coccyx as a direct result of torture. In 2014, Mr. Al-Khawaja was also informed that his medical files have “gone missing”. He has not received the adequate medical treatment necessary to treat his medical conditions nor any rehabilitation for the torture suffered during detention in direct breach of Bahrain’s obligations under Article 14 of the Convention Against Torture. Mistreatment during imprisonment has continued, mainly through the systematic refusal of access to adequate medical treatment.

We reiterate demands made for the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Al-Khawaja and all other prisoners of conscience in Bahrain from detention and the repeal of all their sentences. We remain concerned over continuing allegations of mistreatment in detention and remind authorities of their obligations under the Convention Against Torture, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. We also call for impartial investigations over allegations of systematic torture and the prosecution of all those involved in committing, overseeing and/or enabling torture and/or ill-treatment to take place. In addition, all torture survivors must be provided with rehabilitation and reprieve by the authorities.


Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)

Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR)

Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)

Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR)



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