Originally published on September 21, 2014, at ForceChange.com
Target: Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, King of Bahrain
Goal: Release a human rights worker falsely charged with assaulting a police officer
After returning to Bahrain to visit her ill father, a human rights activist was detained at the airport on the claims that she did not have Bahraini citizenship. After showing them her Bahraini ID card, the human rights worker was imprisoned for several days and charged with insulting the king and assaulting a police officer. The government of Bahrain must release this activist and drop the false charges against her.
Human rights worker Maryam Al-Khawaja returned to Bahrain to visit her imprisoned father, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja. Imprisoned for life for his participation in advocating for human rights, Abdulhadi began a hunger strike calling attention to the injustice and torture endured by him and his fellow prisoners. Instead of allowing Maryam to visit her ill father, Bahraini authorities arrested Maryam to silence her and her family.
As co-director of the Gulf Center for Human Rights, Maryam worked to defend people against human rights violations. With her father’s health beginning to fail during his hunger strike, Maryam flew home to be with him. Instead, Maryam was detained at the airport, interrogated for several days, and brought up on false charges. Her sister and human rights activist, Zainab Al-Khawaja, was also detained while attempting to visit their father in the hospital.
By signing the petition below, you will urge the King of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, to drop the charges against Maryam Al-Khawaja and immediately release her from jail.
Dear King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa,
While returning home to visit her ill father, human rights worker Maryam Al-Khawaja was detained at the airport for not having Bahraini citizenship even though she presented her Bahraini ID card. Police detained and interrogated her for seven days before charging her with assaulting an officer. The real reason Maryam is facing these charges, however, is because of her work defending against human rights abuses like the torture her father has endured in prison.
The international community views this as a personal vendetta against a small family of human rights activists. If your government fears a man being visited in the hospital by his daughters, then you will only encourage a legacy of cowardice. Release Maryam and drop these ludicrous charges against her. Remember that these activists are not focused on fighting you, they are trying to protect your people.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Bahrain Bay via Wikimedia Commons