Bahraini activist faces new charges on top of life sentence
Abdul Hadi al-Khawaja, who was imprisoned in 2011, is facing new charges for inciting protests in prison and allegedly breaking a plastic chair
By News Desk - November 16 2022

(Photo Credit: Daniel/Flickr)

Prominent Bahraini human rights defender, Abdul Hadi al-Khawaja, is facing a series of new charges over his protests from prison and is already serving a life sentence, according to rights groups and his family.

Khawaja was imprisoned in 2011 after leading peaceful protests calling for fundamental freedoms in Bahrain and will be tried for the three new charges on 16 November.

Khawaja reportedly told his family that the new charges are related to his protests against the poor conditions in Jau prison, 12 years into his sentence. 

“My father is yet again facing multiple charges for the exact same reasons – that he insists on speaking up in the face of injustice,” Al-Khawaja’s daughter, Maryam al-Khawaja said.

The hearing on 16 November will focus on charges that Khawaja allegedly broke a plastic chair a year prior, and was denied the right to call his family from prison.

Khawaja’s daughter reiterated that the new charges come just as the international community has pressed for his release due to health issues, after being tortured by Bahrain’s security authorities in 2011.

“The Bahrain regime responds by doubling down on and worsening their reprisals rather than heeding the calls for his release,” Khawaja’s daughter added.

His initial charges include sedition and “insulting a foreign country”-Israel- which undermines Bahrain’s normalization deal with Israel, known as the Abraham Accords.

In October, a Bahrain court sentenced eight anti-government activists to death, according to a report by the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) and Human Rights Watch.

In the report, BIRD remarked that the government in Bahrain regularly violates defendants’ rights to fair trials, preventing them from accessing legal counsel during interrogation sessions and the right to cross-examine prosecution witnesses.

The report added that most mistreatment cases of prisoners in the country occur in two locations, the Criminal Investigation Directorate of the Ministry of Interior and the Royal Academy of Policing.

According to the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), Bahrain is the Arab country with the most political prisoners.

The prisoner files and testimonies of the BCHR, available on its website, confirm the use of severe physical and psychological torture.

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