A SPELL in prison has become the rule rather than the exception for the Khawajas, The Economist notes:
On August 29th Maryam al-Khawaja, a prominent activist, became the third member of the family to be detained by Bahrain’s government in the past twelve months for campaigning for rights. Ms Khawaja (pictured), a dual Bahraini-Danish citizen and co-director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), which has offices in Beirut and Copenhagen, was picked up at Manama airport as she arrived to try to visit her father, veteran prisoner-of-conscience Abdulhadi al-Khawaja. He has been in prison since 2011 and is ill from his ongoing hunger strike.
Bahrain’s authorities are due to report to the Human Rights Council, a UN body in Geneva, on the progress they have made on recommendations for reform made in wake of 2011, when over 40 protesters were killed. Human Rights Watch, a New York-based lobby, says the tiny Gulf nation has increased its use of arbitrary detention, ill treatment and torture of dissidents, including juveniles, over the past year…..British and European companies have been criticised for doing PR and surveillance for Bahrain’s rulers.
At 26, Maryam is the sort of woman that dictators have nightmares about, Sara Yasin writes for the Guardian:
She is one of the most prominent voices condemning Bahrain’s ongoing human rights violations, which have only continued in the years following a brutal crackdown on popular protests in February 2011.
Maryam’s public face is straightforward, clear and calm, cutting through the regime’s attempts to whitewash its human rights records. The Maryam I know is adept at debating human rights and the ins and outs of Arabic pop music in the same conversation. It’s the qualities that I’ve seen through our friendship that have made me respect her the most: she’s principled, compassionate, tough and stubborn as hell.
Bahrain’s activists have lashed out at Britain in particular (unlike Denmark which is said to be working to release Ms Khawaja), The Economist adds:
Ms Khawaja accused the British government of cooperating with Bahrain when she was blocked from boarding a British Airways flight from Copenhagen to Bahrain in 2013. Mr Rajab likewise claims to have been treated “like a criminal” by British authorities when he was detained on arrival from Bahrain at Heathrow in May. Britain’s foreign service says on its Facebook page that it is monitoring the situation and trying to foster “best practice”.