Human Rights and the Will to be free
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Bahrain, MENA & Arab Spring
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Bahrain's 'inconvenient revolution' grows impatient

Bahrain's 'inconvenient revolution' grows impatient | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

Maryam AlKhawaja: "...

This has been most frustrating for me, watching the progression of violence from the side of the opposition. Over time nonviolent activists have lost footing due to the inaction of the international community. 

A year ago, my family would urge people to use only nonviolent protest, and they would listen. When I visited in February, a more common response to this request was “what have you been able to do for us over the past two years?” Honestly, I didn’t have an answer for them. There has been no accountability for the Bahraini regime abroad.

I cannot blame people for becoming disenchanted with this idea of civil disobedience and nonviolence, because it has garnered absolutely no support from international governments. 

I hear people talk about protestors carrying guns on the ground in Libya, and receiving NATO and media support. In Bahrain, we demanded rights peacefully and nobody responded. And so people are resorting to violence. I fear the situation is becoming radicalized and very quickly...."

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Arbitrary arrest of Zainab Al-Khawaja and violation of her right to protest | CJFE

Arbitrary arrest of Zainab Al-Khawaja and violation of her right to protest | CJFE | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

....As a result of exercising her rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, Ms Al-Khawaja has already spent four months in prison and she is currently facing four different prosecutions. She has been sentenced twice for the same conviction (two months' imprisonment). While in jail, she is denied the right to receive visits from relatives, for which she recently began a hunger strike in protest.

Freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and liberty and security of the person are protected by theInternational Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), articles 19, 21 and 9 and recognized by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), articles 19, 20 and 9. Freedom from arbitrary detention is also a protected right. As a member of the United Nations (UN) and as a party to the ICCPR Bahrain has legal obligations to ensure and protect these rights and to prevent, punish and remedy violations.

The arrest, prosecution and conviction of Ms Al-Khawaja violate Bahrain’s legal obligations to protect and ensure the rights of Ms Al-Khawaja to expression, peaceful assembly and freedom from arbitrary detention.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) has defined arbitrary detention as any detention contrary to the human rights provisions of the major international human rights instruments. Specific categories of arbitrary detention include:

2. When a person is deprived of their liberty because they have exercised the rights and freedoms guaranteed in the UDHR and the ICCPR.
3. When a person has been deprived of their liberty after a trial which did not comply with the standards for a fair trial set out in the UDHR and other relevant international instruments.

We conclude that the detention of Ms Al-Khawaja is arbitrary and therefore illegal.

The alleged acts of insulting a police officer and ripping up a photograph of the King are a lawful exercise of freedom of expression, protected by the ICCPR. As observed by the UN Human Rights Committee (Committee), the ICCPR protects expression that is offensive in content or delivery.1 The attempt to convert lawful expression to an unlawful act through criminal sanctions, as was done in this case, is itself a violation of the ICCPR. The Committee has determined,

[freedom of expression] is a right to which the Covenant permits no exception or restriction….No person may be subject to the impairment of any rights under the Covenant on the basis of his or her actual, perceived or supposed opinions. All forms of opinion are protected, including opinions of a political, scientific, historic, moral or religious nature. It is incompatible with paragraph 1 to criminalize the holding of an opinion. The harassment, intimidation or stigmatization of a person, including arrest, detention, trial or imprisonment for reasons of the opinions they may hold, constitutes a violation of article 19, paragraph 1 [of the ICCPR].2

The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry has also repudiated the legitimacy of criminal sanctions for political expression and recommended that,

…all persons charged with offences involving political expression, not consisting of advocacy of violence, [should] have their convictions reviewed and sentences commuted or, as the case may be, outstanding charges against them dropped.3

Similarly the prosecution of Ms Al-Khawaja for attending an illegal assembly, contravene Bahrain’s duty to ensure and protect Ms Al-Khawaja’s right to enjoy freedom of assembly and there constitutes a violation of the ICCPR.

Under the ICCPR, Bahrain has positive legal obligations, not only to allow, but to actively facilitate and support peaceful assemblies.4 Bahrain’s negative legal obligation not to interfere with peaceful assemblies includes the duty not to impose unreasonable restrictions regarding notification, time or location. With respect to location, the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association holds as best practice law as avoiding any location prohibitions.5

Freedom of assembly is an essential component of the public discourse upon which democracy depends. Properly recognized and protected, the right enables people to, “express their political opinions…and elect leaders to represent their interests and hold them accountable” (Council resolution 15/21, preamble). An individual does not lose this right because of the sporadic violence of others.6 As noted by many commentators,

“laws governing freedom of assembly [that] both avoid blanket time and location prohibitions, and provide for the possibility of other less intrusive restrictions … Prohibition should be a measure of last resort and the authorities may prohibit a peaceful assembly only when a less restrictive response would not achieve the legitimate aim(s) pursued by the authorities.”7

Similarly authorities have determined that the purpose of notification is to allow state officials to enable the assembly and that a failure to notify cannot legitimately result in criminal or civil sanctions for participants.8 In addition, participants cannot legitimately be held liable for the unlawful conduct of others at an assembly.9
The Committee has rejected legislation as a mean of legitimizing arbitrary arrests and detentions and concluded that states…

…should ensure that the right of persons to peacefully participate in social protests is respected, and ensure that only those committing criminal offences during demonstrations are arrested. […]10

The legitimacy of the restrictions imposed on freedom of assembly in Bahrain was considered and rejected during the second Universal Periodic Review of Bahrain.11 Recommendations included bringing Bahrain legislation, including the Penal Code, into compliance with ICCPR obligations.

Proceedings against Ms Al-Khawaja also violate her right not to be tried or punished twice (ne bis in idem) guaranteed by the ICCPR Article 14(7). The conditions of her detention violate her right to be treated humanely guaranteed by Article 10 (1). We note in this regard that, “[a]llowing visits, in particular by family members, is normally also such a measure which is required for reasons of humanity.”12

LRWC and CJFE call on Bahrain to take measures to ensure:

• Recognition and enforcement of Zainab Al-Khawaja’s rights including her right to release and to be treated humanely;• The review of her convictions and commuting of her sentences;• The withdrawal of any outstanding charges;• A judicial determination of the scope and legitimacy of the Bahrain law restricting the freedoms of assembly and expression carried out with proper reference to Bahrain’s international law obligations arising from the ICCPR and the UDHR as interpreted by international tribunals, monitoring bodies and experts;• The amendment of “any article of [Bahrain’s] Penal Code that can be used to prosecute individuals for the exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly or association, and bring its laws into line with international standards established by the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights”;• The investigation and remediation of the ill-treatment of Ms Al-Khawaja while in custody.

Sincerely,

Gail Davidson, Executive Director, LRWC
Marian Caussanel, Bahrain Monitor, LRWC
Annie Game, Executive Director, CJFE

References

1 CCPR General Comment No. 34: Freedom of opinion and expression (Art. 19), CCPR/C/GC/34, 102nd session, 12 September 2011, para. 11, online at :http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrc/comments.htm
2 CCPR General Comment No. 34: Freedom of opinion and expression (Art. 19), CCPR/C/GC/34, 102nd session, 12 September 2011, para. 9, online at :http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrc/comments.htm
3 Report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, 23 November 2011 (Final Revision of 10 December 2011), para. 1291, online at: http://www.bici.org.bh/BICIreportEN.pdf
4 Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai, 20th session, A/HRC/20/27, 21 May 2012, para. 33, online at:http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session...
5 Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai, 20th session, A/HRC/20/27, 21 May 2012, para. 39, online at:http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session...
6 Ibid, para. 25
7 Ibid, para. 39
8 Ibid, para. 29
9 Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai, 20th session, A/HRC/20/27, 21 May 2012, para. 31, online at:http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session...
10 Concluding Observations of the Human Rights Committee: Canada, CCPR/C/CAN/CO/5, 85th session, 20 April 2006, para. 20, online at:http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/898586b1dc7b4043c1256a450044f331/7616e3...ae00397f5d/$FILE/G0641362.pdf
11Report of the Working Group on Universal Periodic Review – Bahrain, A/HRC/21/6, July 2012, paras. 115.24 (Slovakia), 115.27 (Ireland), 115.99 (Canada).
12CCPR General Comment No. 09: Humane treatment of persons deprived of liberty (Art. 10), 16th session, 7 July 1982, para. 3, online at:http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/%28Symbol%29/a4f543b9dadd08a7c12563ed00...

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Urgent Appeal: Zainab Al-Khawaja's Life at Imminent Risk

Urgent Appeal: Zainab Al-Khawaja's Life at Imminent Risk | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

...

Zainab Al-Khawaja is reportedly having severe hypoglycemia with HGT measurements reaching two. Her family reported that she sounded fatigued, and that she was suffering loss of memory and concentration. Having initiated a dry hunger strike now, including no intake of glucose, will put her at high risk of sudden onset of arrhythmias, loss of consciousness, and possibly death, especially that she is in a detention center where no cardiac monitor or cardiac resuscitation service is available.

21 March 2013

UPDATE:
The BCHR has received information that Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja's health continues to deteriorate. Prison officials refuse to take him to the hospital for treatment because he will not wear the prison uniform. Because Al-Khawaja is a prisoner of conscience and he has thus far not been required to wear the prison uniform, as is standard for criminal prisoners.
The BCHR reminds the prison authorities that, as Bahrain is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, they are required to treat all prisoners with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person. This includes providing medical attention to persons in need, regardless of whether they are wearing a prison uniform or not. The BCHR holds the prison authorities solely responsible for the health of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, and demands an immediate investigation into the allegations that his health is being held hostage because of his decision to refuse a prison uniform. Zainab Al-Khawaja's hunger strike continues....

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Bahrain- Human rights defenders Abdulhadi and Zainab Al-Khawaja on hunger strike protesting their ill-treatment

Bahrain- Human rights defenders Abdulhadi and Zainab Al-Khawaja on hunger strike protesting their ill-treatment | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

The Gulf centre for Human Rights (GCHR) received information that human rights defenders Abdulhadi and Zainab Al-Khawaja have started a hunger strike on 17 March 2013 protesting their ill-treatment.

The prisons authorities have tried to force Abdulhadi and Zainab Al-Khawaja to wear prison uniforms designed for convicted criminals which they refused as they are prisoners of conscience who were solely targeted for the peaceful exercise of their rights to free expression, association and assembly. The authorities persist in their ill-treatment and have decided not to allow them to have any visits. Abdulhadi and Zainab responded by starting a hunger strike demanding the authorities to respect all their rights as prisoners of conscience....

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Maryam Al-Khawaja on the Struggle for Human Rights in Bahrain

2012 Freedom Award winner Maryam Al-Khawaja speaks about the oppressive conditions in Bahrain that led to the imprisonment of Nabeel Rajab and other activist...
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Detention Situation Deteriorates for Prominent Human Rights Defender Zainab Al-Khawaja

Detention Situation Deteriorates for Prominent Human Rights Defender Zainab Al-Khawaja | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

As Bahrain and the international community watch to see whether a consensus on reforms will come out of theBahrain National Dialogue, prominent human rights defender Zainab Al-Khawaja declared she was going on hunger strike to protest against her treatment in prison....

The Al-Khawaja family have a significant following on Twitter. Al-Khawaja’s mother, Khadija Almousawi‏(@tublani2010) and sister, Maryam Al-Khawaja(@MARYAMALKHAWAJA) have Tweeted regularly about her treatment in prison. Almousawi has reported that prison cells which ordinarily hold 10 inmates are now being crammed with 16.

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Concerns grow over Zainab AlKhawaja's Health.... #Bahrain #Alkhawaja

Concerns grow over Zainab AlKhawaja's Health.... #Bahrain  #Alkhawaja | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

Concerns have been growing in Bahrain over the deteriorating health of prominent human right activists who remain on hunger strike in detention.

 

Zainab al-Khawaja began her hunger strike after Bahraini authorities banned her from meeting with her family members, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights said.

On March 1, a Bahraini court sentenced Zainab al-Khawaja to three months in prison for “insulting and humiliating a public employee.”....

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Bahrain: Renewed Detention of Zainab AlKhawaja

Bahrain: Renewed Detention of Zainab AlKhawaja | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

The GCHR and the BCHR call on the US administration as well as other governments that have influence in Bahrain including the UK government, the EU and leading human rights organizations to:

1- Call for the immediate release of human rights activist Zainab Al-Khawaja as well as all other detained human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience in Bahrain;

2- Increase the pressure on the Government of Bahrain to stop the on-going daily human rights violations as well as the escalated attacks against human rights defenders;

3- To put pressure on the Government of Bahrain to guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders in Bahrain are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals, and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment;

4. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Bahrain are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals, and are free of all restrictions including judicial harassment;

5. abide by the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, in particular its Article 1, which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, as well as Article 12(1) that provides “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms”, and Article 12(2) (“the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually or in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.”)

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Bahrain Continues Crackdown, Sentences Zainab Al-Khawaja to Prison | Freedom House

Bahrain Continues Crackdown, Sentences Zainab Al-Khawaja to Prison | Freedom House | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

Freedom House condemns the decision by a Bahraini court to reject the appeals for human rights activist Zainab Al-Khawaja, sentencing her to three months in prison. The court’s decision reflects the regime’s continued persecution of those who have peacefully opposed its repressive rule and further demonstrates its utter failure to engage in meaningful reform.

On February 27, authorities arrested Zainab during a sit-in in front of the Royal Palace in Al Qudaybiyah, where she was protesting authorities’ decision not to hand over the body of activist Mahmoud Issa al-Jaziri, killed during a demonstration by a tear gas canister.  A day later, the court rejected two of Zainab’s previous appeals, which included an appeal to reverse a one-month prison sentence for participating in an ‘unauthorized demonstration’ in February 2012, and another appeal to reverse a two-month prison sentence for allegedly destroying property belonging to the Ministry of Interior. She remains in custody at the Hoora Detention Center. The decision to sentence Zainab to prison comes several days after 44 United Nations members released a statement expressing “serious concern” with the human rights situation in the country and with the government’s imprisonment of persons exercising the right to free expression. ....

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In Bahrain, British diplomacy is an insult to real democrats

In Bahrain, British diplomacy is an insult to real democrats | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

... Maryam al-Khawaja - Acting President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights -... Her father, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja , is a leading Bahraini human rights activist who has been tortured by the regime and jailed for life as a political dissident. The question she sent to me to ask Phillips was a simple one: “Are they [the British government] going to continue with silent diplomacy after two years of utter failure? Or will they actually promote human rights [in Bahrain]?”

....

This seemed an odd response to a question asked on behalf of a woman whose father is serving a life sentence for his non-violent calls for democratic reform, and who says he has been tortured and threatened with sexual assault while in custody. Last Friday, Maryam’s sister Zainab was jailed for three months for her political activism . Perhaps she and her father should join the former ambassador in welcoming their jailers’ commitment to political discourse? As Abdulhadi al-Khawaja has asked : "How can you have a dialogue if representatives of the groups you mean to dialogue with are in prison?"

“What more Britain can do” in these circumstances seems reasonably obvious. Rather than talking up the regime’s “National Dialogue”, Britain should publically acknowledge that, as Amnesty International says, talks will be an “empty exercise” unless all prisoners of conscience are unconditionally released, and all restrictions on freedom of expression are lifted. Instead of welcoming regime pledges of reform, and disingenuously saying as Phillips did to me that the extent of those reforms is “something we can debate”, Britain should acknowledge the fact that (to quote Human Rights Watch ), “no progress” has been made, and that “all [the regime’s] talk of national dialogue and reform mean nothing”. In short, Britain could stop parroting its ally’s obfuscatory narrative .

If the monarchy does not change course, the British government should cancel the UK-Bahrain defence agreement (with its reported focus on "internal stability" ) that was signed with minimal coverage last October. It should put an immediate and complete end to all arms sales and any continuing training of Bahraini security forces . And it should reverse the contemptible decision to rename the Mons Hall at Sandhurst military academy after the King of Bahrain, following a £3m donation. The hall was originally named after a First World War battle that claimed the lives of 1,600 British troops, the betrayal of whose memory speaks volumes about the squalid relationship between the British state and the Bahraini royal family.

In the absence of such measures, Britain will not merely have failed to promote democracy in Bahrain but will to all intents and purposes have sided with the oppressor. As Maryam al-Khawaja told me in response to Phillips’ comments, “the UK needs to hold its allies accountable for human rights violations. As long as the international state of immunity for the Bahraini regime continues, the human rights situation will continue to deteriorate”.

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Bahrain appeals court overturns acquittal, sends daughter of opposition leader to prison

Bahrain appeals court overturns acquittal, sends daughter of opposition leader to prison | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
MANAMA, Bahrain — A senior Bahrain prosecutor says an appeals court has overturned the acquittal and sentenced the daughter of a jailed opposition leader to three months in prison.
Spencer Haskins's insight:

We are all Zainab!  We are all Nabeel!  We are all Abdulhadi!  We must rise up and NOT be complacent!  When any ONE of us isn't free, then NONE of us are free.......

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Spencer Haskins's comment, March 3, 2013 6:02 AM
The Bahraini Judiciary is a joke....it is a terrorist arm of the AlKhalifa regime. Justice and imprisonment is not adjudicated based upon evidence, fairness and independence. It is dispatched as per the will of the fascist regime to persecute those who would deliver the citizenry from bondage.
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Court convicts Bahrain activist

Court convicts Bahrain activist | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
A Bahraini court sentences pro-democracy activist Zainab al-Khawaja to three months in jail for entering the site of the former Pearl Roundabout.
Spencer Haskins's insight:

The Roundabout is not posted as a 'No Tresspassing' area!  She entered a public space and was peaceful.  She has committed no crime!  The crime being committed here is by the regime.  The criminal Alkhalifa regime imprisons people without charges, detains them without trial, and commits tortures upon innocent citizens.  Zainab is innocent, she is being targeted by the murderous Alkhalifas for advocating for Bahraini Human Rights!

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Maryam al-Khawaja's update on the situation in Bahrain

Maryam al-Khawaja the acting president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights gives Tunisia Live an update on both her father Abdulhadi al-Khawaja and her si...
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Don't overlook Bahrain, it's a matter of life and death

Don't overlook Bahrain, it's a matter of life and death | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

....Zainab is reportedly having severe hypoglymia with HGT measurements reaching 2. Her family reported that she sounded fatigued, said she was suffering loss of memory and concentration. Having initiated a dry hunger strike now, including no intake of glucose, will put her at high risk of sudden onset arrhythmias, loss of consciousness and possibly death especially that she is in a detention center were no cardiac monitor or cardiac resuscitation service is available.....

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Zainab’s War: A mother risks everything for dignity

Zainab’s War: A mother risks everything for dignity | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

In one of the Arab Spring's least-watched but most intense uprisings, a prominent activist is on hunger strike to try to win the right to see her daughter again. ....

On Sunday, Zainab al-Khawaja, a 29-year-old human rights activist and mother from the tiny and pro-American nation of Bahrain, did two things.

First, she wrote an open letter, from prison, asking the U.S. to reconsider its support for the increasingly authoritarian Bahraini monarchy and imploring her fellow activists, frustrated by two years of mass protest that had achieved some of the most meager gains of the Arab Spring, to never give up their commitment to nonviolence.

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Zainab AlKhawaja: Why I am on Hunger Strike in Bahrain

Zainab AlKhawaja:  Why I am on Hunger Strike in Bahrain | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

"A great leader is immortal, his words and deeds echo through the years, decades, and centuries. They echo across oceans and borders and become an inspiration that touches the lives of many who are willing to learn. One such leader is the remarkable Martin Luther King Jr.

As I read his words I feel that he is reaching out to us from another land and another time to teach very important lessons. He teaches us, for example, that we must not become bitter, that we must be willing to sacrifice for freedom, and that we can never sink to the level of our oppressors.

As flowers of hope and resistance to oppression started spurting out of the ground across the Arab world, the people of Bahrain saw the first signs of a new dawn two years ago. It was a dawn that we hoped would end a long night of dictatorship and oppression, a long winter of silence and fear, and spread the light and warmth of a new age of freedom and democracy.

With that hope and with determination, the people of Bahrain took to the streets on February 14, 2011 to peacefully demand their rights. Their songs, poetry, paintings and chants for freedom were met with bullets, tanks, toxic tear gas, and birdshot guns. The brutal al-Khalifa regime intended to end the peaceful revolution, by using violence and spreading fear.

In the face of this brutality Bahrainis showed great restraint, day after day protesters held up flowers to soldiers and mercenaries who would shoot at them. Protesters stood with bare chests and arms raised shouting “peaceful, peaceful” before they fell onto the ground covered in their blood. Thousands of Bahrainis were detained and tortured for crimes such as “illegal gathering” and “inciting hatred against the regime.”

Two years later, the Bahraini regime’s atrocities continue. Bahrainis are still being killed, detained, injured and tortured for demanding democracy.

When I look into the eyes of Bahraini protesters today, too many times I see that hope has been replaced by bitterness. It’s the same bitterness Martin Luther King Jr. saw in the eyes of rioters in the slums of Chicago in 1966. He saw that the same people who had been leading non-violent protests, who were willing to be beaten without striking back, were now convinced that violence was the only language the world understood.

I, like Dr. King, am saddened to find some of the same protesters who faced tanks and guns with bare chests and flowers, today asking “what’s the use of non-violence, or of moral superiority, If no one is listening?”

Dr. King explains that this despair is only natural when people who sacrifice so much see no change in sight and feel their suffering has been worthless.

Part of the reason that progress toward democracy is so slow in Bahrain is, ironically, that democratic nations support the dictators here. Whether it’s by selling them arms, or giving economic and political support, the United States and other western governments have proven to the people of Bahrain that they stand with the al-Khalifa monarchy and against the democratic movement.

As I read Dr. King’s words recently, I found myself wishing he was alive. I found myself wondering what he would have to say about U.S. support of Bahraini dictators. What he would say about turning a blind eye to the blood and tears being spilt in the quest of freedom? All I had to do was turn a page, and this time Martin Luther King spoke not to me, but to you — to America.

“The words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, ‘Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.’ Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken — the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investment. I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values,” Dr. King said, “a true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies.”

King continued: “These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression and out of the wombs of a frail world new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. ‘The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light.’ We in the West must support these revolutions. It is a sad fact that, because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch anti-revolutionaries.”

Concluding his speech, Dr. King added, “We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace,” He said, “If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.

The echo of Martin Luther King’s words has travelled across oceans, through the walls and metal bars of a Bahraini prison, and into the overcrowded and filthy cell I sit in. I hear the words of this great American leader. A presidency isn’t what made this African American leader great, but his unbending dedication to morality and justice.

As I marvel at his wisdom, I wonder if America is also listening.

As a political prisoner in Bahrain, I try to find a way to fight from within the fortress of the enemy as Nelson Mandela once said.

When I was placed in a cell with fourteen people — including two convicted murderers — and I was handed orange prison clothes, I knew I couldn’t put them on without having to swallow a little bit of my dignity. Not wearing the convicts’ clothes, because I have committed no crime, that became my small act of civil disobedience. Not letting me see my family and my three-year-old daughter, that has been their punishment. That is why I am on hunger strike.

Prison administrators ask why I am on a hunger strike and I reply “because I want to see my baby” and they reply “obey and you will see her.” But if I obey, my little Jude won’t be seeing her mother, but a broken version of her. In a letter, I told the prison administration that I will not be wearing the convicts’ clothes because, as Dr. King said of Henry David Thoreau’s essay pn civil disobedience, “no moral man can patiently adjust to injustice.”

What makes jail difficult is that you are living with your enemy. Even in the most basic ways, if you want to eat you stand in front of him with your plastic tray. Every day one faces the possibility of being ridiculed, shouted at, or humiliated for any reason.

But I have let the words of great men help me through these times.

When the “specialist” threatened to beat me for telling an inmate she has a right to call her lawyer, I did not shout back, I repeated King’s words in my head “no matter how emotional your opponents are, you must be calm.”

When I had had enough of people telling me that I’m getting all my rights and refusing to face that I have responsibilities, I got angry. I felt so frustrated that I shouted back at the people who told me that over and over.

But hadn’t a great man said, in the struggle of justice we “must not become bitter,” and we must “never to sink to the level of our oppressors”?

A doctor came to see me and said “you might go into a coma, your vital organs might stop working, your blood sugar levels are so low, and all this for what? A uniform.”

I replied: “I’m glad you weren’t with Rosa Parks on that bus, to tell the woman who sparked the civil rights movement “that it was all for nothing but a chair.” When the doctor started asking about the civil rights movement I offered him my Martin Luther King book. If you knew me you’d know that’s rare for me – I hardly ever give away my books.

Sometimes, through his words, Martin Luther King has been a companion, a cell mate more than a teacher.

He wrote “no one can understand my conflict who hasn’t looked into the eyes of those he loves, knowing that he has no alternative but to take a stand that leaves them tormented.” I do understand. It is as though he sits beside me. The jail experience, he said, “is life without the singing of a bird, without the sight of the sun, moon, and stars, without the felt presence of fresh air. In short, it is life without the beauties of life, it is bare existence – cold, cruel, degenerating”.

When my father, my hero and my friend, was sentenced to life in prison for his human rights work, he also refused to wear the grey prison uniform. As usual the government tries to put us in our places by taking away what means the most to us. They will not allow my father to receive visits from his family.

Cruelty is the al-Khalifa regime’s trademark, but unwavering courage is my father’s. No emotional pressure will break him.

The family visit is the one thing one looks forward to in prison. My father and I will not be seeing our family or each other, but the struggle for our rights will continue.

Until we see our family next, we hold them in our hearts.

Yesterday, while looking at my prison cell door with its iron bars, I had a dream. This time it was a small and simple dream, not a grand dream of democracy and freedom. I just saw my smiling mother, holding my daughter’s hand, standing at the door of my prison cell. I saw them walk through the metal, my mother sat on my prison bed, my daughter and I lay side by side, our heads in her lap. I tickle Jude and she laughs, my heart fills with joy. Suddenly I feel that we’re in a cool and protective shadow, I look up and see my father standing by the bed, looking at the three of us and smiling. I dream of those I love, and it is their love that gives me the strength to fight for the dreams of our country."

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Bahrain: Abdulhadi and Zainab Al-Khawaja on hunger strike | Front Line

Bahrain: Abdulhadi and Zainab Al-Khawaja on hunger strike | Front Line | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

On 17 March 2013, human rights defenders Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja andZainab Al-Khawaja began a hunger strike to protest against a new requirement by prison authorities that they wear prison uniforms.

The hunger strike began after authorities refused to allow visits by relatives unless the human rights defenders complied with this new rule. It has been reported that Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja's health is deteriorating rapidly and that he has been refused medical treatment.

Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja is a prominent human rights defender and former Front Line Defenders Protection Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, who is serving a life sentence passed following a grossly unfair trial.

His daughter Zainab Al-Khawaja is also a prominent human rights defender and a blogger who has been active in calling for political reform and democracy in Bahrain. She currently remains in detention in Hoora Detention Centre.....

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Bahrain : BAHRAIN: Ongoing arbitrary arrests and judicial (...) - FIDH

Bahrain : BAHRAIN: Ongoing arbitrary arrests and judicial (...) - FIDH | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

Paris-Geneva, March 19, 2013. As new cases of arbitrary arrests and ongoing judicial harassment against Ms. Zainab Al-Khawaja have been reported in Bahrain, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), remains extremely concerned with the very repressive climate faced by human rights defenders in the country....


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Maryam Al-Khawaja: 'double standards' towards human rights in Bahrain.

Maryam Al Khawaja is a prominent Bahraini human rights campaigner. Her father was recently sentenced to life in prison for allegedly plotting to overthrow th...
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Spencer Haskins's comment, March 19, 2013 7:02 PM
Marayam confronts the propaganda issued by the Bahraini regime and restated by this naive commentator. She clarifies the lies for all to hear....
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Bahrain: Arrest of human rights defender Ms Zainab Al-Khawaja

Bahrain: Arrest of human rights defender Ms Zainab Al-Khawaja | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

Take action on behalf of Bahraini human rights defender Zainab Al-Khawaja.

Copy the enclosed appeal and send it to the address provided.

Thank you for taking action.

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Advocate for the Human Rights of Zainab & Abdulhadi Alkhawaja & Nabeel Rajab!

Advocate for the Human Rights of Zainab  & Abdulhadi Alkhawaja & Nabeel Rajab! | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

Zainab & Abdulhadi Alkhawaja are tireless advocates for Human Rights.  Their right-hand-man, Nabeel Rajab,  has also been unceasing in his work for human rights!   All are now in prison due to the paranoid delusions of the Alkhalifa terrorists now hijacking the wealth, dignity, and freedom of Bahrain!  

 

PLEASE BE TIRELESS ADVOCATES FOR THEIR FREEDOM AS THEY HAVE DONE FOR YOU IN THE PAST, AND AS THEY WILL SURELY DO FOR YOU AGAIN UPON THEIR RELEASE!

Spencer Haskins's insight:

When any ONE of us isn't free.......NONE of us are ! ! !

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«فرونت لاين» تطالب بالإفراج عن الناشطة زينب الخواجة

«فرونت لاين» تطالب بالإفراج عن الناشطة زينب الخواجة | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

طالبت منظمة «فرونت لاين» بالإفراج عن الناشطة الحقوقية زينب الخواجة، التي صدر بحقها أخيراً حكم بالسجن لمدة ثلاث أشهر.وأشارت المنظمة في بيان صادر عنها، إلى أنه بتاريخ 27 فبراير/ شباط 2013، تم اعتقال الخواجة أثناء احتجاجها لمطالبة السلطات بتسليم جثمان...   |  

Zainab al-Khawaja, right finally was sentenced to prison for three months.

The agency noted in a statement issued from it, that on February 27, 2013, was arrested Khawaja during protest to demand the authorities to hand over the body of Mahmoud Jaziri, who was killed during protests in the country on February 14, 2013, after he was injured in his head improvised tear gas.

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Bahrain: Arrest of human rights defender Ms Zainab Al-Khawaja, while Court of Appeal rejects two appeals against prison sentences | Front Line

Bahrain: Arrest of human rights defender Ms Zainab Al-Khawaja, while Court of Appeal rejects two appeals against prison sentences | Front Line | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

On 27 February 2013, human rights defender Ms Zainab Al-Khawaja was arrested by security forces during a peaceful sit-in in front of the Royal Palace in Al Qudaybiyah. Meanwhile, on 28 February 2013, the Court of Appeal rejected an appeal lodged by the human rights defender against a sentence of two months imprisonment, while an appeal against another one month imprisonment sentence was also rejected by the Court.

Zainab Al-Khawaja is a prominent human rights defender and blogger who has been active in calling for political reform and democracy in Bahrain. She currently remains in detention in Hoora Detention Centre.

On 27 February 2013, Zainab Al-Khawaja was arrested while protesting against the authorities' refusal to hand over the body of Mr  Mahmoud Issa al-Jaziri, a pro-democracy activist killed during a demonstration on 14 February 2013 marking the second anniversary of the uprising in Bahrain.

The activist was reportedly killed after being hit in the head by a tear gas canister, when security forces reportedly attacked demonstrators in Nabi Saleh, South of Manama......

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Responses to the questions and objections related to the draft initiative: | Bahrain Center for Human Rights

Responses to the questions and objections related to the draft initiative: | Bahrain Center for Human Rights | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

Responses to the questions and objections related to the draft initiative:“Towards Intensifying the Change Movement in Bahrain while Reducing the Risk to Lives and Safety of Humans”
While in prison – and despite the difficulty of communication – I received a number of questions, objections and comments. I will attempt to respond and make some clarifications, in order to impel further discussion of this initiative which I hope will be adopted by human rights activists in Bahrain, and supported by the parties concerned with the initiative, in order to achieve the main aim and which is escalating the pursuit of legitimate popular demands, while reducing the risk to lives and safety of individuals.

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