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Bahrain: Front Line Defenders calls for the release of Abdulhadi Alkhawaja and Zainab Alkhawaja as well as end to violence against peaceful protestors
Front Line Defenders today renews its call for the release of Abdulhadi Alkhawaja currently serving a life sentence after an unfair trial. The organisation also expresses its concern at the violent arrest of peaceful demonstrators including Abdulhadi's daughter Zainab Alkhawaja who is currently in detention amid serious concerns for her well being.
Human rights defender Abdulhadi Alkhawaja has been in prison since 9 April 2011 and has been sentenced to life imprisonment after a grossly unfair trial. At the time of his arrest he was so badly beaten that he required a four hour operation in the military hospital. He was subsequently subjected to further torture. He was initially held incommunicado and denied access to his lawyer and family.
The concerns for his physical welfare and his right to a fair trial have been vindicated by the recently published report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Enquiry (BICI), chaired by Professor Bassiouni, which upheld allegations of torture and which clearly stated that the defendants, including Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, had been denied their right to a fair trial in line with international standards.
On that basis Front Line Defenders calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Abdulhadi Alkhawaja.
In recent statements Your Majesty has made a specific commitment to implement significant political and social reforms in response to the findings of the BICI report.
The first vital step towards reform should be the release all human rights defenders, including Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, currently in detention or facing charges on the basis of their peaceful activities and the quashing of all sentences handed down against medical professionals which also were found to have followed grossly unfair trials.
The publication of the BICI report and the Bahraini Government's proclaimed commitment to implement reforms to end torture was a welcome step forward, as was the replacement of the Head of National Security and the investigations instigated into the behaviour of some low level officials.
However the decision to appoint a National Commission to implement the recommendations of the BICI report, while also a welcome development, has so far made little progress and recent reports received of excessive use of force against peaceful demonstrators are at odds with this commitment. Of particular concern are reports of the violent break up of peaceful demonstrations and the arrest of demonstrators including Zainab Alkhawaja, daughter of Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, who was arrested, physically and verbally abused and who is currently held in detention. Having been told that she was due to appear in court on 20 December 2011 her lawyers went to the court but were told “trial – what trial?” In the light of previous reports of physical and verbal abuse in custody during pre-trial detention there are serious concerns for her well-being.
You can join the campaign to Free Abdulhadi ALkhawaj HERE