- For defenders
- How can I help?
Abdulhadi Al Khawaja
In Scotland we have a tradition of coming together to celebrate Hogmanay. It is a time to celebrate friendship, for Auld Lang Syne, and to think of our hopes and resolutions for the New Year.
This will be the third New Year that my friend and former colleague Abdulhadi Al Khawaja will celebrate in prison in Bahrain where he is serving a life sentence for speaking out for human rights.
On this day two years ago Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja was staying in his daugher's house when police broke violently into the house in the middle of the night and arrested him.
As one of the most respected and outspoken human rights defenders in the country Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja was automatically on the list of those to be rounded up in the clampdown after the Pearl Roundabout demonstrations in 2011.
The fact that Abdulhadi was a peaceful family man who had never used or advocated violence seems to have had no relevance for the Bahraini authorities. Their only objective seems to have been to silence the voices of critics of the regime and crush the demonstrations for democracy and human rights.
But they didn't just arrest him. Abdulhadi was beaten and abused, denied access to family or lawyers and subsequently needed a 4 hour operation in a military hospital as a the ill-treatment he received in custody. Since then he has been sentenced to life imprisonment after a trial which can only be described as a farce - a conviction which was subsequently upheld on appeal.