Last updated: 25 September, 2014

Jailed Bahrain activist ends hunger strike

Bahraini activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who is serving a life sentence for plotting to overthrow the regime, has ended a month-long hunger strike, his lawyer said Thursday.

“He believes that he has attracted attention to his case, and decided to bring his hunger strike to an end on Tuesday,” said lawyer Mohammed al-Jishi.

Khawaja, who is also a Danish citizen, stopped eating on August 25 in protest to “demand an end to his arbitrary imprisonment, and he has been satisfied with the reaction in Europe to his protest,” he said.

Jishi said Denmark had been active in highlighting Khawaja’s plight.

Hundreds of Shiites have been arrested and many have faced trials over anti-regime protests that erupted in the Sunni-ruled but Shiite majority Gulf state in February 2011.

Khawaja, 54, staged a 110-day hunger strike in 2012 over his imprisonment.

He is among a group of people handed lengthy jail sentences for their role in the 2011 protests. Seven of them, including Khawaja, have been jailed for life while another seven remain at large.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch describe Khawaja as a “prisoner of conscience”.

His daughter Maryam, co-director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights which has offices in Copenhagen and Beirut, was arrested upon her arrival in Bahrain last month.

She was released on September 18 after spending 18 days behind bars for allegedly assaulting policewomen at the airport. She is expected in court on October 1.

Security forces crushed the protests in mid-March 2011, but smaller demonstrations frequently take place in Shiite villages, triggering clashes with police.

Bahrain is a strategic archipelago just across the Gulf from Iran.

Washington is a long-standing ally of the ruling Al-Khalifa dynasty, and Bahrain is home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet.