personal reflections on human rights...and other stuff

A Letter to a Friend: Dear Abdulhadi


Dear Abdulhadi,

You’re now on your 27th day of your hunger strike. Your daughter recently wrote that “The last person who saw my father found him very thin, barely able to walk, stand or even sit up. But they also saw a sparkle in his eye.” You’ve spent your life defending the rights of others, and you and your family have paid for your tenacity. You’ve been jailed, harassed, tortured, sentenced to life in prison in a mockery of justice; your family and friends have suffered similar hardships.

I was always of the opinion that anyone enduring a hunger strike as a means to uphold their principles, no matter how worthy the principles were, was making a mistake. In the short term, should they succumb to death, the public outrage and personal grief of friends and loved ones would be both overpowering and heartbreaking. Should the death of one person fighting for a cause justify an end to the suffering of others, even though no such guarantee exists? Why not stay alive and continue to be a voice for hope, a voice for change?

I have thought about you a lot since your arrest last year, Abdulhadi. Your name is synonymous with courage and defiance. You are freedom, you are human rights, you are the voice of those who are oppressed. The choices – the sacrifices – you have made to protect the rights of others must have been difficult for you and your family. But the tenacity with which your daughters and wife have been fighting for your freedom since your arrest show in no uncertain terms that they are as strong as you and respect the choices you make.

I don’t know what will happen if you die from your hunger strike. I know your family and friends will not be silenced. Nor will the millions of ordinary people in Bahrain and around the world who have learned about you and the struggle you uphold. If you die, Abdulhadi, the fight for freedom will continue, and I hope your resilience will somehow find its way in the hearts of us all. If your hunger strike leads to your freedom, as it should, then the fight will still continue. Either way, the struggle for human rights will not end. We will always fight for a better day until that day comes. However hard it is for me to accept your hunger strike, I deeply respect you and support what you are doing. May you one day soon enjoy the freedom you deserve.

Your friend,
Paul



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