Is There Hope for Human Rights within the Gulf

Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, a Bahraini human rights activist, was arrested on the night time of April 9, 2011. Throughout the arrest at his household house in Bahrain, he was brutally assaulted and his jaw damaged in 4 locations. On June 22, barely two months after his arrest, he was sentenced to life in jail after a present trial in a army court docket that violated any rules of judicial equity.

He has now spent greater than 10 years in Jau Jail, infamous for its ill-treatment of inmates. Khawaja was granted political asylum in Denmark in 1991, later receiving citizenship, however he returned to Bahrain in 1999 throughout a interval of political rest and reform. On January 22 this yr, greater than 100 organizations wrote to the Danish prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, calling for her authorities to “renew and strengthen efforts to make sure his fast and unconditional launch so he might be reunited along with his household and obtain a lot wanted medical therapy and torture rehabilitation in Denmark.”

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The letter supplies graphic particulars of the therapy meted out to Khawaja from the second of his arrest. Whereas blindfolded and chained to his hospital mattress, he was tortured by safety officers instantly after main surgical procedure to his damaged jaw, which “pressured the physician to ask the safety officers to cease as it could undo the surgical work.”

All through his imprisonment, he has carried out starvation strikes to protest jail situations, the curtailment of his household’s visiting rights and cellphone calls, and the elimination from his cell of all his studying materials. He has declined medical therapy when he can in protest at being strip-searched, blindfolded, and hand and leg cuffed earlier than being seen by medical workers. 

The letter to Frederiksen notes that in a latest name, Khawaja acknowledged that “jail authorities are arbitrarily denying him correct medical therapy and refusing to refer him to specialists for surgical procedures he requires.” The letter provides: “[D]enying a prisoner enough medical care violates the United Nations Commonplace Minimal Guidelines for the Therapy of Prisoners, generally known as the Nelson Mandela Guidelines.”

A Reset in Bahrain?

With US President Joe Biden now within the White Home — and a number of alerts emanating from his new administration that human rights, totally disregarded by his disgraced predecessor, at the moment are on the entrance foot — the Bahraini authorities might need to have a reset by itself terrible human rights report and its therapy of political prisoners.

Amongst these urgent for the reset is the New Jersey Democratic Congressman Tom Malinowski. He was unceremoniously ordered out of Bahrain in 2014 when he was the assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor below the Obama administration. Malinowski had had the temerity to fulfill with the top of the opposition Al Wefaq political society, Sheikh Ali Salman, a transfer the Bahraini regime deemed was “counter to standard diplomatic norms.”

Sheikh Salman was subsequently arrested and, in 2018, sentenced to life in jail on fees associated to the Gulf feud with Qatar that had been transparently bogus. Al Wefaq was outlawed in 2017.

Malinowski might effectively discover a bipartisan ally in Republican Florida Senator Marco Rubio. The senator is on report calling for an finish to repression in Bahrain. As he argued in a letter to then-President Donald Trump in September 2019 (co-signed by the Democratic senators Chris Murphy and Ron Widen): “Bahrain is a strategic ally in an essential area and, critically, Bahrain hosts america Fifth Fleet. It’s exactly for these causes that we’re so involved by the federal government of Bahrain’s concerted efforts to silence peaceable opposition and quash free expression.”

Rubio particularly talked about Khawaja by title, noting that he and others have been jailed for peaceable protest: “These prisoners are merely consultant of the 1000’s of others who stay locked away for exercising their proper to free expression.”

As Biden settles into workplace, Center East dictators are nervous. The US president has despatched a transparent message that the go Donald Trump gave them to crush dissent with impunity is effectively and really canceled. As they strategize on how greatest to cope with the brand new norm, sending optimistic messages is not going to go amiss.

One such message could be to launch Abdulhadi al-Khawaja and the opposite political prisoners held in Jau merely for calling for the proper to talk freely and overtly with out concern of consequence.

*[This text was initially revealed by Gulf Home.]

The views expressed on this article are the creator’s personal and don’t essentially replicate Honest Observer’s editorial coverage.

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