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Sep-03-2014 13:47printcomments

Bahrain: Immediately and Unconditionally Drop All Charges Against Maryam Al Khawaja

She is a legitimate and peaceful human rights defender who has not been allowed legal counsel since her apprehension.

Maryam Al-Khawaja
Maryam Al-Khawaja was travelling on her Danish passport

(LONDON) - Shaikh Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa
King; Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces
Office of the King
The Amiri Court, Rifa'a Palace
PO Box 555.Manama

Your Highness,

I am William Nicholas Gomes, human rights activist and journalist. On 30 August 2014, human rights defender Ms Maryam Al-Khawaja was detained upon arrival at Bahrain International Airport. She was travelling to visit Mr Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja in detention, who has been on hunger strike since 24 August 2014.

Maryam Al-khawaja is a prominent human rights defender in Bahrain and is Co-Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights. She is the sister of human rights defender Ms Zainab Al-Khawaja and daughter of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja. Security officials met Maryam Al-Khawaja upon her arrival to the airport after midnight on 30 August 2014 and informed her that she was not welcome in Bahrain.

Reportedly, the human rights defender was denied entry on the grounds that she does not have Bahraini citizenship, despite presenting her Bahraini ID card.

Maryam Al-Khawaja was travelling on her Danish passport. Although reportedly promising the Danish Embassy that the human rights defender would be presented in court on 31 August 2014, the authorities transferred Maryam Al-Khawaja to Isa Town women's prison for seven days of 'investigation' pending trial on charges of allegedly “assaulting the police”.

These charges have been upheld by the Public Prosecutor, though Maryam Al-Khawaja has been denied access to legal representation.

Before losing internet access on 30 August 2014, the human rights defender announced on Twitter that she would begin a water-only hunger strike. However, on 31 August 2014, Maryam Al-Khawaja confirmed that she would suspend her hunger strike so as not to cause undue concern for her father, whose health is suffering from his own ongoing hunger strike.

Within the past week, Maryam Al-Khawaja's sister, Zainab Al-Khawaja, was briefly detained when she went to the hospital to visit her father after he was transferred there from the prison.

I wish to express my concern at the pattern of intimidation and harassment against members of the Al-Khawaja family. It is believed that the detention of these human rights defenders are solely related to their legitimate and peaceful human rights activities promoting and protecting human rights in Bahrain.

I urge the authorities in Bahrain to:
1. Immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against Ms Maryam Al-Khawaja; 2. Ensure the treatment of Maryam Al-Khawaja, while in detention, adheres to the conditions set out in the 'Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment', adopted by UN General Assembly resolution 43/173 of 9 December 1988; 3. Quash the life sentence imposed against Mr Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja after an unfair trial, and take all necessary measures to guarantee his physical and psychological integrity and security as well as providing appropriate medical treatment;

4. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Bahrain are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.

Sincerely, William Nicholas Gomes
Human Rights Activist and Freelance Journalist Twitter: @Wnicholasgomes

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