Last updated: 1 May, 2012

Bahrain’s Khawaja tells BBC to stay on hunger strike

Bahraini activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, looking frail but alert, said he will keep up his hunger strike, the BBC reported on Tuesday after becoming the first media outlet to meet him in military hospital.

BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner and producer Mark Georgiou who said they were allowed to see him for five minutes “with his consent,” described Khawaja as “thin but alert.”

“Khawaja said he would continue his hunger strike,” BBC reported.

“Khawaja said his medical treatment had been good ‘except for the force-feeding’,” a claim denied by authorities, BBC reported.

In a picture of the meeting on the BBC website, Khawaja was sitting at the edge of his hospital bed, with a bowl and a cup at the night table next to him.

Concerns have mounted over the activist’s life after he announced he will refrain from drinking water.

But BBC reported that Khawaja, on hunger strike since February 8, was “drinking fluids, and hospital staff said he was also drinking regular nutritional supplements.”

The BBC interview comes after Bahrain’s highest appeals court on Monday ordered the retrial of 14 opposition activists, among them Khawaja.

A symbol of Bahrain’s opposition movement, Khawaja was arrested last April shortly after the regime crackdown on a month-long Shiite-led uprising that killed 35 people, according to an independent probe.

Bahrain has repeatedly come under pressure from rights groups as well as Western governments to release the activist, who holds dual Bahraini and Danish citizenship.