Title: Bahraini Activist’s Daughter Denied Entry, Alleges British Airways Helped Bahraini Government
Word Count: 354
Maryam al-Khawaja, daughter of jailed Bahraini activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, was denied boarding a flight in London as she attempted to return to Bahrain and advocate for her father’s release from prison. The incident occurred at a time when Abdulhadi al-Khawaja had resumed his hunger strike due to being denied urgent medical treatment.
Expressing disappointment, Maryam al-Khawaja claimed that this may have been her last opportunity to see her father. She also accused British Airways of denying her boarding at the request of the Bahraini government.
In response, the Bahraini government stated that it welcomes all visitors but reserves the right to refuse entry if necessary. They did not directly address Maryam’s specific allegations.
Maryam stated that she was willing to risk arrest by traveling to Bahrain because her father urgently required medical attention. Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, a Danish citizen, is currently serving a life sentence for his involvement in Bahrain’s pro-democracy protests in 2011.
The denial of boarding was not limited to Maryam al-Khawaja alone. Amnesty International Secretary-General Agnes Callamard and Front Line Defenders’ Interim Director Olive Moore were also prevented from boarding their flights. Callamard criticized the Bahraini authorities for attempting to silence individuals who speak out against human rights abuses in the country. Moore described the denial of al-Khawaja’s freedom of movement as unjustifiable.
It is not the first time Maryam al-Khawaja has faced legal trouble. She was previously arrested in 2014 and accused of assaulting a police officer before being released.
The Bahraini government informed that Maryam had been convicted of assaulting two policewomen in 2014 but had neither served her one-year sentence nor filed an appeal.
Meanwhile, UN Special Rapporteur Mary Lawlor expressed concern over the deteriorating health of Abduljalil al-Singace, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, and Naji Fateel, citing medical negligence and inadequate care. Rights groups declared that other political prisoners suspended their hunger strikes following the government’s promise to improve prison conditions.
In contradiction, the government denied the claim that al-Khawaja was on a hunger strike and stated that he voluntarily declined his regular medical appointments.
The events surrounding Maryam al-Khawaja’s denial of boarding and her father’s ongoing hunger strike have once again brought attention to the human rights situation in Bahrain. Supporters of the al-Khawaja family and rights organizations continue to call for the release of Abdulhadi al-Khawaja and improved conditions for political prisoners in the country.
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