Abdulhadi Alkhawaja Near Death
by Stephen Lendman
Abdulhadi is a heroic human rights activist. A previous article discussed him and his ordeal in detail.
April 11 marks his 63rd hunger striking day for justice – if he’s still alive. Bahrain won’t clarify beyond a short less than reassuring statement. Ruling Al-Khalifa despots keep brutalizing him. They want him dead and silenced.
Among his many distinguished credentials, he co-founded the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR. He also served as its first president. On April 9, his lawyer, Mohammed Al-Jeshi, expressed fear he died.
“Authorities have been refusing since (Sunday) all requests, made by myself and by his family, to visit or contact” him, Jeshi said.
“We fear that he might have passed away as there is no excuse for them to prevent us from visiting or contacting him.”
He and family members are even denied permission to speak to him. Government spokesman Abdulaziz bin Mubarak Al-Khalifa (a royal family member) claims he’s stable.
In fact, without food for two months he’s close to death. His vital organs deteriorated. He could expire any time, may already have, and Bahrain’s concealing its crime against humanity.
It’s one of thousands in the past year alone. The Al-Khalifa monarchy is one of the world’s most ruthless dictatorships. It’s also a close Washington ally. US media scoundrels ignore Abdulhadi’s abuse and other regime crimes.
Amnesty International (AI) calls him a prisoner of conscience and demanded his immediate unconditional release. He’s a Danish national. Denmark’s request to extradite him was denied.
Bahrain’s Supreme Judiciary Council said Criminal Procedures Law stipulates that releasing convicted persons to other countries doesn’t apply to him. No reasons were given. It’s clear they want him silenced. In other words, better dead than heard.
Danish Foreign Minister, Ole Engberg Mikkelsen, said there’s little time left. “It is a case where the clock is ticking. We are continuing our efforts to convince Bahrain that it is in everyone’s interests that he be extradited.”
Campaigns on his behalf continue. Thousands of Bahrainis protest daily for him. State and Saudi security forces confront them violently. Injuries, some deaths, and arrests follow.
Bahrain’s largest opposition movement, Al-Wefaq, said authorities “signed his death” sentence. In Cairo, his daughter Maryam said her sister saw him earlier. She said “he was so weak he could barely breathe. He sa(id) if he dies, he will die with dignity.”
Despite repeated requests, family members now can’t see or speak to him. On Sunday, his doctor said the hospital IV drip can’t keep him alive.
On April 9, a London Guardian open letter headlined, “Abdulhadi al-Khawaja’s death would be a stain on Bahrain,” saying:
“Bahrain risks instigating a collapse of its civic society if it fails to release this respected human rights activist and hunger striker.”
It continued, saying:
“We, the undersigned, call on the government of Bahrain to immediately and unconditionally release leading human rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, whose life is now in grave danger as he enters the 61st day of his hunger strike, begun in protest at his detention and treatment.”
If he dies, Bahrain “will signal a total failure of political will in addressing the human rights violations that occurred in 2011.”
“Mr al-Khawaja is deeply revered and respected by much of the population of Bahrain, as well as the wider region and world. His death could dangerously inflame national tensions which are already escalating.”
Before his ordeal, he was a renown national figure. He’s now known and respected internationally. His death won’t go unnoticed. His treatment symbolizes state brutality.
The letter concluded calling urgently for his release. On April 10, it was delivered to Bahrain’s London embassy. It was signed:
The Right Honourable Lord Avebury
Jeremy Corbyn MP
Richard Burden MP
Front Line Defenders
Doctors in Chains
Professor Sajjad Rizvi (University of Exeter)
Professor Scott Lucas (University of Birmingham)
Professor F Gregory Gause III (University of Vermont)
Professor Craig Toby Jones (Rutgers University)
Professor Khaleel Mohammed (San Diego State University)
Dr Christopher Davidson (Durham University)
Dr Mike Diboll (formerly of University of Bahrain)
On April 9, The Project for Middle East Democracy (POMED) sent Obama a similar letter. It urged he publicly call for Abdulhadi’s immediate unconditional release, and permission to travel abroad for urgent treatment.
Like Bahraini despots, Obama also wants him silenced. He supports the regime’s worst crimes. His own hands are bloodstained. He’s a war criminal multiple times over. He plans more across the region and elsewhere, including police state harshness in America.
Barring something unexpected and quick, Abdulhadi’s fate may be sealed, but not his spirit and influence. Many others will continue in his absence, thousands of Bahrainis among them.
For over a year, they rallied daily for justice. Their liberating struggle continues. Harsh brutality hasn’t stopped them. They won’t quit now.
A Final Comment
After 43 days, Israel released Palestinian hunger striker Hana Shalabi. She was lawlessly deported to Gaza. She’s not quite free at last. Her liberating struggle also continues.
On April 9, she spoke with Electronic Intifada contributor Rami Almeghari. She’s currently being treated at Gaza’s Al-Quds Hospital.
The circumstances around her Gaza exile are “controversial.” Hana wants the truth explained. Israel claimed she agreed to deportation. She was mislead and lied to.
Addameer and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I) also expressed concern she may have been deceived or coerced to go along. Under Fourth Geneva and other international law, exile from home territory is illegal.
Amnesty International (AI) called it “forced deportation.” Hana wanted to go home. She lives in the West Bank. Israel banished her for three years. Its deals are systematically violated, including numerous past conditional releases like Hana’s. Expect permanent exile. She’s also vulnerable to rearrest or assassination.
In her own words, she said:
“When I was liberated to Gaza, I was feeling sad as my parents met me briefly at the Israeli Erez (crossing into Gaza). Meanwhile, I felt so happy to be among my other family in Gaza, especially those belonging to the Islamic Jihad.”
She wants her Palestine Prisoners Society lawyers to explain their deal on her behalf. She had no say. She wants the “mystery” “clarified.”
She ended urging “all young men and women in Palestine to further support the prisoners issue by holding or organizing more activities that are aimed at helping lobby until all prisoners are released from the occupation’s prisons.”
“I would like to advise young Palestinian generations to keep up the struggle and never fear Israeli detention. Just be steadfast, just be steadfast and you will eventually win your freedom.”
Like Abdulhadi, other Palestinian hunger strikers, and all wrongfully imprisoned victims worldwide, Hana’s liberating struggle continues. She’s not quite free at last.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.