personal reflections on human rights...and other stuff

Top 20 depressing facts to mark 100 days of a hunger strike for freedom


Abdulhadi al-Khawaja has spent 100 days on his hunger strike for freedom. Here are my top 20 depressing facts to mark this grim milestone:
  1. He’s innocent.
  2. The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) report identified reforms the government was supposed to undertake but hasn’t, otherwise he’d be free.
  3. He never should have been tried in a military court.
  4. He never should have been sentenced to life in prison for managing a terrorist organization. He was co-founder of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights. It’s unclear how “terrorist” and “human rights” get mixed up so badly.
  5. Even after a new civil trial was recently announced, he should have been released on humanitarian grounds.
  6. A retrial in civil court should have happened a year ago.
  7. As for #6: Not really, because he shouldn’t have been arrested in the first place.
  8. Apart from being a citizen of Bahrain, he’s also a Danish citizen and should have been released a long time ago as a result.
  9. He’s been drugged, tied to a bed, and force-fed in order to be kept alive.
  10. He was tortured after his arrest in April 2011.
  11. He was tortured on other occasions as well.
  12. He’s a nice guy. I can vouch for him, I’ve known him for years.
  13. The Bahraini government continues its crackdown on protesters.
  14. Hundreds of innocent civilians have been unlawfully detained in Bahrain since the protests began in February 2011. Many others like Abdulhadi have been handed harsh sentences, even for helping injured protesters. If you don’t buy that, read Amnesty’s report.
  15. The government arrested his friend Nabeel Rajab, who has been a critic of the government but has maintained the necessity for peaceful, non-violent protests.
  16. The government arrested his daughter more than once, and she’s still sitting in jail.
  17. After 100 days on a hunger strike, force-fed or not, there will come a point sooner rather than later when his health will become critical and he may die.
  18. He is a pain to the Bahraini government. But the government knows the country will implode if he dies in their custody, so as much they hate him, they need to keep him alive.
  19. If he dies, people will be galvanized into further action to claim their rights. If he lives, chances are the same will happen. Sounds like a win-win scenario for human rights, even though one option means he sacrifices himself, an act he is committed to undertaking.
  20. Thousands of people in Bahrain, citizens from around the world, representatives of governments and non-governmental organizations have called for his release. Is there really something we’re not seeing here?


Let freedom reign. The sun never set on so glorious a human achievement.
- Nelson Mandela



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