On June 23, 2011, Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights published a letter by world renowned Bahrain human rights advocate, Abdulhadi Alkhawaja.*Image via Frontline Defenders Abdulhadi Alkhawaja (left) with Margaret Sekaggya(right)
Alkhawaja, who was arrested in April and 21 others were charged by the Bahraini government with "organising and managing a terrorist organisation" and "attempt to overthrow the government by force and in liaison with a terrorist organisation working for a foreign country".
On Wednesday, June 22, AlKhawaja, a dual Bahraini and Danish, was convicted for life alongside 20 other defendants, seven of which were also sentenced to life. Maryam Alkhawaja" told theGuardian this week that Alkhawaja "was beaten and forcefully removed from the court. My sister [Zainab al-Khawaja]stood up and chanted, 'Allahu akbar' [God is great], and she was forcefully removed from the court and arrested. She was charged with contempt of court but then was made to sign a pledge not to speak in court again and then she was released."
The United Nations' top human-rights official, Navi Pillay, criticized the sentences handed down to 21 opposition leaders and activists in Bahrain this week. In a statement issued from her office this week, Pillay said, "There are serious concerns that the due-process rights of the defendants, many of whom are well-known human-rights defenders, were not respected and the trials appear to bear the marks of political persecution."
In May, prior to the trial that sentenced him to life, Frontline Defenders reported that "In a brief meeting with his family on the same day, 16 May, Abdulhadi Al Khawaja reportedly stated that the security forces had attempted to force him to record on videotape an apology to the King of Bahrain. He said he told them that he had nothing to apologise for. The security forces then reportedly tried to forcibly remove his clothes and sexually assault him to force him to make such an apology. Abdulhadi Al Khawaja told his family that he was handcuffed at the time and fell to the ground as he attempted to defend himself against the attackers suffering further injuries to his head, falling briefly unconscious."
Earlier today, Maryam Alkhawaja, wrote that she had received "credible information that those sentenced on Wednesday 22nd of June were beaten after the sentence reading. According to the information, Abdulhadi Alkhawaja was beaten the most severely, and on areas where he previously had surgery done due to fractures. This is an urgent call for intervention as he is at risk of PERMANENT DAMAGE and/or his LIFE IS AT THREAT."
She urges people "move quickly to put pressure on the Bahraini government to at least ensure that [Alkhawaja] is given the proper medical attention, give his family and lawyer access to him and his medical files and to make sure that the torture and beatings stop immediately."
To whom it may concern,
I, the undersigned, Abdulhadi Abdulla Alkhawaja, detained since 9/4/2011 in the crackdown following events of February 14th, send this letter regarding my health situation.
Due to the severe beating I received upon my arrest by security forces on the 9th of April I had to undergo surgeries in the Military Hospital (BDF). In which I had to have stitches for two wounds above my left eye and I had to have surgery for four fractures in my cheek bone and jaw on the left side of my face.
And now, 2 months and 10 days after the surgeries:
1. The wounds above my eye that were stitched have not healed yet, they are swollen and painful.
2. I still cannot use my jaw and mouth in a normal manner,
3. The numbness in my face continues and the pain that resulted from my operation remains the same in the left side of my face (specifically in the cheek, mouth, lips & chin).
As a result, since the operation I have not been able to chew my food, or clean my teeth and I am constantly on painkillers.
The consultant doctor (who preformed the surgery) visited me (thankful to him for that) more than once in prison, the last visit was about a month ago. About three weeks ago an x-ray machine was brought to prison, and an x-ray was taken of the location of the surgery. But since then I have not been told of the result of those x-rays.
My current situation has not improved whatsoever. I have followed up on the issue with the prison administration, the emergency state court and the military prosecution with no result until this day.
I request that my family are given access to my medical files related to the surgery and the x-rays, so that my case is presented to another surgeon for a second opinion, because of lack of healing and to get medical advice on how to proceed.
Please take all the necessary action, and respond as soon as possible.
With all my appreciation and gratitude,
*The was originally published on WL Central.