Call for Action

Isis International has endorsed the following letter of the Women Human Rights Defenders calling for the immediate release of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, a well-known and highly respected human rights defender who has been a strong and peaceful advocate for the rights of women in Bahrain and throughout the Middle East; and the letter of Nazra for Feminist Studies, Egypt also calling for his release and for the Government of Bahrain to respect the human rights of his daughters, Maryam Al-Khawaja and Zainab Al-Khawaja.

We encourage you and your organizations to write similar letters.

Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition Calls for Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja to be released to Denmark on humanitarian grounds

HM King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa
Office of The King
The Amiri Court, Rifa’a Palace
PO Box 555

11th April 2012

Your Highness:

The Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition (WHRD IC) is deeply concerned about the health and welfare of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, a well-known and highly respected human rights defender who has been a strong and peaceful advocate for the rights of women in Bahrain and throughout the Middle East. He has been on hunger strike since the night of February 8/9 and is currently being held in the Bahrain Defence Force Royal Medical Services hospital. The WHRD IC is especially concerned about reports that his health is deteriorating.

We are also concerned for the welfare of his family, including his daughter Zainab Al-Khawaja, and their right to carry out their human rights activities free from harm.

We urge the Bahraini authorities to release Abdulhadi to Denmark on humanitarian grounds, as per the request of the Foreign Minister of Denmark, so that he can receive treatment both for the effects of the hunger strike and the ongoing pain he suffers as a result of the torture he suffered during his detention (BICI report, Annex B, Case #8).

Your Majesty, we urge you to show statesmanship and grant Abdulhadi's release from prison so that he may go to Denmark for urgent treatment.

Thank you for your consideration.

The Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition (WHRD IC) is a resource and advocacy network for the protection and support of women human rights defenders worldwide.

This letter has been endorsed by:

Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)
Center for Women's Global Leadership
Coalition of African Lesbians
National Alliance of Women Human Rights Defenders, Nepal
Frontline Defenders
INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre, Sri Lanka
International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
Isis International, Manila
Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Rights (UAF)
Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice
Women Living Under Muslim Laws
Women's Rehabilitation Centre (WOREC), Nepal


12 April 2012

Open Letter to the Government of Bahrain: Respect the Rights of Al-Khawaja Family

Maryam Al-Khawaja, a 24 year old woman human rights defender from Bahrain, has been doing extensive work on documenting human rights violations prior to and during the February 14th uprising in Bahrain. She is the head of international relations and advocacy officer at the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and left Bahrain in March 2011 to testify about violations in Bahrain. She has not been able to go back to Bahrain since for the fear of detention and torture. Also, there was an attempt to ban her from entering Egypt on April 2nd, 2012 due to the fact that she is a prominent Bahraini woman human rights defender.

Moreover, Zainab Al-Khawaja, 28 years old, another daughter of Abdul-Hadi Al-Khawaja, the Bahraini human rights defender, has been detained several times, the last time was on April 5th, 2012 while she was on her way to the military hospital to see her father. In addition, Wafi Al-Majed, her husband who is not involved in politics was detained and tortured for 10 months just for being related to the family.

Abdul-Hadi Al-Khawaja is an internationally prominent human rights defenders who was beaten unconscious in front of his family, detained, severely tortured, and tried before a military court and received a life sentence in prison accordingly on June 22nd, 2011. He decided to start a hunger strike on February 8th, 2012 following three other hunger strikes, which led to the deterioration of his health dramatically as he has been on a hunger strike for more than two months now. As women human rights defenders, Zainab and Maryam have been and continue to be subjected to harassment, detention and intimidation inside as well as outside of Bahrain.

We call on the Bahraini government to put an end to the violations against Zainab Al-Khawaja, to grant the freedom of movement to Maryam Al-Khawaja so that she can go back to Bahrain to see her father without banning her from leaving the country later on. We call on the Bahraini government to immediately and unconditionally release Abdul-Hadi Al-Khawaja and all other prisoners of conscience. We call on the Bahraini Government to end the harassment and intimidation against women human rights defenders and their families in Bahrain that come in the form of arbitrary detention and interrogation among other forms of violations against them.

For more information on Human Rights violations in Bahrain and how to take action, please see:


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