Bahraini activist jailed for "inciting hatred"

Bahraini police force attack protesters during an anti-government demonstration, and in solidarity with political prisoners, in the village of Abu Saiba on 3 December 2012. (Photo: AFP - Mohammed al-Shaikh)

Published Monday, December 10, 2012

A prominent Bahraini rights activist has been arrested on charges of “inciting hatred against the regime” after attempting to visit a hospital patient shot in the face by riot police, her friends announced Monday.

Bahrain’s public prosecution office on Monday told Zainab al-Khawaja that she will spend at least one week in prison pending an investigation over the charges after she was arrested over the weekend during a visit to Salmaniya Hospital to check up on a patient.

A court had already sentenced Khawaja to one month in prison and fined her 100 Bahraini dinars ($265) earlier on Monday for participating in a non-sanctioned demonstration in Manama’s Pearl Square in February.

Khawaja, who is widely known by her Twitter pseudonym Angry Arabiya, faces three additional court verdicts this month over participation in anti-government protests in the wake of Bahrain's massive uprising last year.

She had previously served a one-month prison sentence in May and two-month term in September and October over charges related to her activism.

She is the daughter of a leading human rights defender also behind bars. Her father, Hadi al-Khawaja, is serving a life sentence over charges of “plotting against the state.”

Khawaja’s latest arrest in Bahrain’s main hospital occurred after briefly visiting 20-year-old Aqeel Abdul Mohsen. Abdul Mohsen suffers a shattered jaw after police shot him during an anti-government rally last Wednesday in the town of Bani Jamra.

A photo of Abdul Mohsen flashing a victory sign with his face covered in blood was widely circulated through social networking sites.

Aqeel ur proof, they can spill our blood, but can't take... on Twitpic

Police had imposed a ban on his hospital visits, and not even his family was allowed to see him.

“I was expecting that [the public prosecution] would place these kinds of charges against her,” Yousif al-Muhafda, a fellow activist who accompanied Khawaja to the hospital, told Al-Akhbar in reference to her latest arrest.

He said after being denied access to the hospital room, Khawaja asked to be alone to draw less attention, and to minimize chances they would be arrested for participating in an “illegal gathering.”

In November, Bahrain banned all forms of public gathering. Al-Muhafda was arrested several weeks ago after documenting police attacks on village demonstrators, but later released.

Opposition protests have continued in Bahrain almost daily despite a widespread crackdown on dissent. At least 80 people have been killed in the violence since the popular uprising erupted in February 2011.

Saudi troops were ushered into Bahrain, home to the US Fifth fleet, to help suppress the uprising in March 2011, but protests continue.

Bahrain’s tyrannical monarchy continues to target human rights activists, medics who have treated injured protesters, and journalists.

An independent commission formed last year to investigate cases of abuse at the hands of the government found the kingdom’s security forces responsible for torture, killing and the use “excessive force.”

(Al-Akhbar)

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