Free Maryam and Abdulhadi

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Maryam Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, a pro-democracy activist and acting president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, was detained and thrown in jail when she tried to return to Bahrain after learning that the health of her imprisoned father, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, had deteriorated. Both Abdulhadi and Maryam are now on hunger strike inside Bahraini jails.

In this joint statement, MENA Solidarity Network and Syrian Revolution Support Basesdocument the ordeal of these two political activists and demand their immediate release, along with all political prisoners jailed in Bahrain.

ON AUGUST 26, leading human right activist Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, serving a life sentence for peaceful advocacy of human rights in Bahrain, began an open-ended hunger strike. This follows a 110-day hunger strike two years ago.

Due to the drugging and forced feeding he experienced during his last hunger strike, he will refuse to be taken to hospital or prison clinic, or to receive IV treatment. The previous hunger strike left him in a severely weakened condition, and there are fears that he could succumb at any moment.

On August 27, Abdulhadi phoned his family. His voice was weak, and he told them that he was losing weight rapidly, and that his blood sugar levels and his blood pressure had dropped.

In that situation, his daughter Maryam, a fellow human rights activist and co-director of the Gulf Center for Human Rights, sought to fly home to be with her father and family.

On arrival at the Bahrain airport, regime officers took away her Danish passport (she is a dual Danish/Bahraini citizen) and told her that her Bahraini citizenship had been revoked. She was thrown into prison and told she would come before a judge on Sunday, August 31. A few hours later, she was told that her case would be investigated for seven days, and that charges would be filed against her for: 1) The Wanted for Justice campaign (a very successful project which educated people around the world about regime members who were violators of human rights and perpetrators of detention, torture, murder and other crimes); 2) Insulting the king; and 3) Assaulting a policewoman.

 Additionally, Maryam has been denied access to lawyers and had her phone taken from her. In response to these violations of her rights, Maryam launched a water-only hunger strike.

The initiators of this statement--the Middle East-North Africa Solidarity Network-U.S. and the Syrian Revolution Support Bases--have been honored to have presentations by Maryam at our educational events and to benefit from her insights and inspiration. Our groups share Maryam's sentiment that "an injury to one is an injury to all," and like her, we have stood up for the rights of all victims of repression no matter the claims of the regime perpetrating it.

Those of our members in the U.S. feel a particular sense of responsibility to aid those jailed, beaten, tortured and killed in Bahrain, as that country hosts the base of the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, the launching pad for any counterrevolutionary attacks the U.S. may want to make anywhere in the region. That strategic value of Bahrain explains why Washington's firm ally Saudi Arabia invaded Bahrain to quell its uprising for freedom, justice and equality. But the masses of Bahrain have not stopped demonstrating for one day since the U.S.-backed Saudi invasion, despite daily regime attacks.

We know also that Saudi capital, as part of Gulf-wide capital, is ever more central to the region's economy and thus to the U.S., which is yet more incentive for the U.S. to turn a blind eye to human rights violations there.

Six hundred other Bahraini political prisoners have been on hunger strike since August 20 to protest life-threatening conditions, insults, beatings, torture and more.

Please take action today and until Maryam, Abdulhadi and all Bahrain's political prisoners are free!

First published at Syrian Revolution Support Bases.


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