The Stockholm-based human rights group Skyline urged the Danish authorities to take serious steps to free Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, a prominent human rights defender behind Bahraini bars.
Bahraini authorities have held Al-Khawaja in the notorious Jaw prison for more than ten years for expressing his opinion and advocating for human rights in Bahrain.
Al-Khawaja is a dual Bahraini-Danish citizen.
Skyline said in a letter it sent to the Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen that the Bahraini-Danish citizen had been sentenced to life imprisonment in Bahrain for expressing his opinion, urging the prime minister to act immediately to save his life.
Skyline’ stresses that the arrest of activist “Al-Khawaja” is due to his outstanding activities in defending human rights in Bahrain.
Al-Khawaja took part in establishing the Gulf Center for Human Rights and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. He worked as the protection coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa region at Front Line Defenders from 2008 to early 2011.
He was awarded the prestigious Martin Ennals Award, given to lawyers and human rights defenders in 2021.
Al-Khawaja was arrested on April 9, 2011, after being accused of belonging to Bahrain 13 Group.
The group included a number of lawyers and human rights defenders, all of whom agreed to raise awareness on democracy and freedom of expression.
But the group members were arrested later and sentenced to life in prison on alleged claims of “attempting to overthrow the government”
The group denied the allegations.
Skyline said it obtained leaks confirming that activist Al-Khawaja was tortured, deprived of medical care, denied access to books, and was deprived of contacting his family.
He went on hunger strike several times, most recently on November 16, 2021.
Skyline expressed its deep concern about the detention of Al-Khawaja and hundreds of prisoners in Jaw Prison.
The prisoners “suffer from inadequate care and medical treatment that could have disastrous unexpected consequences.”
“Instead of responding to international calls to reduce prison overcrowding to reduce the risk of spreading corona among prisoners, Bahraini authorities are detaining more and more prisoners, putting them at risk of infection due to deteriorating prison conditions.”
Skyline International Foundation for Human Rights further emphasizes that the normalization of relations between Denmark and Bahrain is unacceptable in light of the ongoing attacks on individuals, particularly the Danish citizen “Al-Khawaja.”
It called on the Danish government to pressure Bahrain to release its citizen. It also pointed out that the efforts made so far are insufficient to protect the activist in the face of the danger that daily threatens his life.
Skyline called the Danish Prime Minister to take all appropriate and necessary steps to secure the release of Danish citizen Abdul Hadi Al-Khawaja and work towards reuniting him with his family and freeing him from the slow death he is suffering in Bahraini prisons.