Hungry for freedom, Bahraini activist nears death

Picture released by family of Bahraini human rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja. Photo taken on April 5, 2012. (Image via

Jailed human rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who is a dual Danish-Bahraini citizen, is in critical condition as he enters day 63 of a hunger strike in protest of his unfair imprisonment.

Khawaja was sentenced to life in prison for his role in anti-government protests last year.

In a statement on Tuesday, Amnesty International called on Bahrain to “immediately and unconditionally release” Khawaja, whose “health is rapidly deteriorating.”

Denmark’s prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt also reiterated calls to release Khawaja on Tuesday. Bahrain responded by asking foreign countries to stay out of its “internal affairs,” AFP reported.

As Murtaza Hussain writes in this must-read article for Salon, of particular note in all this, is America’s absurd complicity in the Bahrain government’s brutal crackdown on protesters.

“While Khawaja continues to peacefully resist by whatever means in his power, the Bahraini regime continues to suppress with brute force the pro-democracy movement he helped spearhead. Despite its criminal abuse of a prominent human rights champion in the Arab world, and despite the documented instances of killings, torture, and indefinite imprisonment of countless other Bahraini citizens, the U.S. government continues to support the Al-Khalifa regime in the face of its democratic uprising and refuses to publicly call for the release of Al -Khawaja and other pro-democracy activists.”

It’s a horrifying prospect to think Khawaja might die for no other reason than his peaceful cry for freedom and democracy; values the US claims to champion, but in practice is doing little to promote.

Khawaja and his fellow Bahrainis are incredibly brave, but without the full support of the international community, these people stand little chance of making it out alive.

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