Dozens join Bahrain hunger strike

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A woman runs to look for a cover from tear gas fired by riot police towards demonstrators during clashes with anti-government protesters in the district of Sitra in Bahrain 24 March 2012. (Photo: Reuters - Ahmed Jadallah)

Published Monday, March 26, 2012

Dozens of Bahrainis are beginning a hunger strike on Monday in solidarity with human rights leader Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, who has now gone 46 days without food.

The protest will begin with a march in the capital Manama, with activists planning to walk silently through the streets to highlight the lack of international media coverage.

Afterwards activists will publicly pledge to refuse food to highlight Al-Khawaja's plight.

Al-Khawaja, also a Danish citizen and founder of the Gulf Center for Human Rights, was sentenced to life in prison in June 2011 for organizing peaceful protests calling for democratic reform in the tiny Gulf state.

Said Yousif, deputy head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), said organizers were expecting around 50 people to participate in open-ended hunger strikes.

"It will be a call to the international community and the UN and the Danish government to save him, and ask for his urgent release before he dies," he said.

The BCHR on Monday produced a report documenting continued human rights abuses committed by Bahraini security forces since a government-commissioned human rights report in November last year.

At least 31 people have been killed since the government-funded Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry highlighted systematic methods of abuse deployed by security forces, the report said.

Twenty of those recently killed, BCHR claimed, were due to suffocation from excessive use of tear gas.

Victims are often placed in isolated detention centers, where they are tortured and beaten without access to medical care, the report said.

It detailed the story of 16-year-old Ali Al-Singace who was kidnapped and abused five times for refusing to become an informant for the Bahraini authorities.

The BHCR called on the Bahraini government to “immediately end ongoing rights violations” and to make those concerned accountable for their actions.

It also urges the EU and the US cease all arms deals with the Bahraini regime, a key American ally and home to the US Fifth Fleet.

Bahrain has witnessed more than a year of unrest with protesters demanding democratic reform.



No one said Bahrain is Syria.
UN, the BICI report (which Hamad accepted, so why don't you?) and over 50 Human Rights organisations all confirm torture & deaths. The Gvt is only talking & writing about reform; there is no change on the ground.
The police force have acted with increasing violence since the 21st Dec 2011, which was the date the UN gave their report after a visit to Bahrain.
The UN Special Rapporteur was to visit Bahrain in March but has been told not to visit until July. F1 supporters can get a 14 day visa but no human rights organisation can get one longer than 5 days and weekends are forbidden!
The illegal and unelected king manipulates people by pandering to their greed; they like the life he 'gives' them and feel indebted. Change is therefore not wanted by those who put self first. Anyone with compassion for the whole of Bahrain wants all to have their human rights - article 5 and 21 are violated, as well as others. In fact as the will of the king & basically the will of the PM rule, and not the will of the people, NO ONE in Bahrain enjoys their basic human right outlined in Article 21! That is appalling.
BICI insisted Khawaja be freed; his torture is well documented in BICI & his trial was farcical. To be locked up for life for demanding human rights for all is medieval. His hunger strike and that of those joining him is to highlight how right UN & BICI & all HRDs are; Bahrain is oppressed by cruel tyrants.

Dozens? We’ll believe that when we see it. What does a mass hunger strike hope to achieve beyond trying to keep the protest movement's pot boiling? We have tolerated the protest movement for over a year now while they have run our country into the ground without showing any interest in sitting down with the other components of Bahrain's society and reaching consensus.

The BCHR is not an impartial observer but a leading component of the protest movement. Its dossier of "tear gas deaths" has suddenly appeared now that a better-trained Bahraini police force is acting with greater restraint - suddenly everybody who dies in their beds is a tear gas victim. The opposition continue to try and portray our beautiful country as another Syria, they'll fail because it isn't.

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