Maryam Al-Khawaja is the Acting President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and the head of the international office of the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR). She is the daughter of prominent human rights activist Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, a former head of BCHR, who was given a life sentence soon after last year's outbreak of mass protests. She's also the sister of Zainab Al-Khawaja, another prominent Bahraini human rights activist.
JS: Do you think Ramadan will be used as an excuse for the government to widen their crackdown on protesters and human rights defenders? And that's why Nabeel has been removed from the scene?
[Maryam Al-Khawaja]: They don't use it as an "excuse", although it may be the unspoken reason. It really has everything to do with the international response. It's not a coincidence that in January the regime was a lot more careful with Nabeel. When he was hit, the [US] State Department immediately released a statement. Representatives from the embassy visited him at home.
Now he gets arrested, imprisoned for periods [weeks] at a time, and yet nothing from the State Department; nothing from the US administration. The situation right now as it is is that Nabeel is in prison, possibly for a little more than two months; Zainab Alkhawaja, who is also one of the most active activists, is unable to walk without crutches for at least six weeks afer she was directly targeted and shot in the leg at close range, which not only shattered her thigh bone, but removed all skin and tore the muscle. Removing two of the most well-known activists from the streets at this time seems to be too convenient right before Ramadan to be a coincidence