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HR Organizations Call on EU High Representative to Raise Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja's Case

2023-04-10 - 5:20 p

Bahrain Mirror: Human rights organizations sent a letter to the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission Mr. Josep Borrell Fontelles calling on him to raise the case of prominent Danish-Bahraini human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja on the 12th anniversary of his arbitrary detention in Jaw prison.

The organizations said in their letter "It remains unclear how Al-Khawaja's case is being taken up at the political level," noting that "As Al-Khawaja's medical condition deteriorates, it is crucial that all diplomatic channels are mobilized to ensure his immediate and unconditional release."

They urged the High Representative of the EU to press for his release, both directly to the Bahraini authorities and in international fora, both privately and publicly.

The organizations that signed the letter are: Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), CIVICUS, Danish PEN, DIGNITY - Danish Institute Against Torture, #FreeAlKhawaja campaign, Front Line Defenders, Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), Human Rights Watch, International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) and Martin Ennals Foundation.

Al-Khawaja was arrested on 9 April 2011, and was detained, tortured and subjected to an unfair trial on fabricated charges, that led to him being sentenced to life in prison because of his human rights work. That sentence was deemed arbitrary by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention as far back as 2012.

Throughout his detention, Al-Khawaja has endured various forms of reprisals, including physical and mental torture. On 28 February 2023 he experienced intense elevated and rapid heartbeats, in addition to labored breathing, and was transferred to an emergency room for several hours. He was actively prevented from seeing a cardiologist by the Bahraini authorities, contrary to the advice of the prison doctor.

In December 2022, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for the release of Mr Al-Khawaja.

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