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Maryam Al-Khawaja

HRD, Co-Director
Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)
BBC 100 Women List

In 2023, Maryam Al-Khawaja was included in BBC's list of 100 "inspiring and influential women from around the world for 2023". She was selected as "a leading voice for political reform in Bahrain and the Gulf region".

What matters is not if I have been sentenced to one or to 15 years because the consequences will be the same; if I go back to Bahrain I will go to prison, so this means I cannot see my family, especially my father. However, this sentence is not going to affect my determination to continue working on human rights issue.

Maryam Al-Khawaja, is the co-director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the former acting president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR). She is on of the most prominent voices demanding human rights, democracy, and accountability in Bahrain, and has reported on the country's rights violations in numerous international news outlets, at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, and at the Tom Lanton Human Right's Commission in Washington, DC, among others. Maryam is also known for expressing her solidarity with other self-determination struggles across the Middle East, and has been banned or denied entry from numerous Gulf and Arab states as a result.

Maryam assumed leadership roles at BCHR and GCHR following the unfair arrest, torture and life imprisonment of her father Mr Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, founder of the BCHR and a former Front Line Defenders Protection Coordinator, on 22 June 2011, and the sentencing of Mr Nabeel Rajab, BCHR President and Director of the GCHR, to two years imprisonment on 11 December 2012.

Bahrain Protest Context

In 2011 Bahrainis initiated protests, as part of what became known as the 'Arab Spring', aimed at promoting reforms in the country and demanding full rights for all citizens. Human rights defenders, medical workers, journalists and others were rounded up in the crackdown that followed, with many ultimately facing trials on trumped up charges and imprisonment.


Maryam Al-Khawaja