Bahrain – the forgotten islands in the shadows of the Arab Spring.

Bahrain which means “two seas” could be considered as the forgotten islands in the Arab Spring’s movement. For several years a tension between Shiites and Sunni Muslims has lurked more or less under the surface hence the minority group of Shiite feeling their human rights are being violated by the Sunni led government. The constitutional monarchy of Bahrain is led by the Sunni Muslim orientated supreme authority of the king, previously known as the emir. In 2002 a reform was implemented which would open up for Shiites into the governmental bodies and improve the human rights. Nevertheless Twitter and Youtube have exploded of publications regarding another side of today’s Bahrain, a Bahrain far from the Gran Prix Formula 1 race the government wants the world to see.

Organisations like “Internet Liberty”, “Human Rights Channel” and “” are some of the media sources leaking out the fairly silenced stories of the Al-Khawaja family and their fight for democracy and human rights in Bahrain. So far it however haven’t been brought as much light upon the situation in Bahrain as the riots in Syria, Libya and Egypt, but maybe the global social medias are about to change that.

In February 2011 an intent to follow the path of Egypt emerged in the capital of Baharain, Manama. One of the executors and coordinators was the Danish-Bahraini  Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, a political and human rights activist who was sentenced to lifetime in jail due to his participation in the riot. The trail against him, initiated in May last year, was a process strongly criticised by Amnesty as well as UN and the European Union accused of being unfair and based on false proofs. Mr al-Khawaja stated in front of the court being sexual abused and tortured during his arrest, accusations that were dismissed by the judge. In January this year al-Khawaja initiated a week long hunger strike together with 13 other prisoned demonstrators from inside the jail. After a short break he continued this protest to provoke a debate and to catch the attention of the outside world about the circumstances within the country. His health conditions have worsened lately and his wife Khadija al-Maousawi explained in an interview with BBC  that he’s state had been so severe that authorities acquired medicals to force-fed him, although against his will. Khadija mediated that her husband, after recovered, declared: “My hunger strike is not for negotiation. I’m not going to stop until I’m free either by death or by coming out of jail.”

Also the daughters of Abdulhadi and Khadija are progressive activists. One of them, Zainab al-Kawaja, has been the voice of her father during his imprisonment tweeting his messages out to the world. At the end of April she wrote:

“Firstly, my father is completely convinced in what he is doing. Secondly, he asks that nobody attempts to go on a similar strike until death. Finally, my father said: ‘If I die… I ask the people to continue on path of peaceful resistance. I don’t want anybody to be hurt in my name’.”

A few days ago Zaniab herself initiated a hunger strike to draw attention to her father and the situation in Bahrain. She was, according her mother, beaten up and almost strangled to death by a police women when arrested for her non-violent hungers strike demonstrations.

In an interview with Zainab on Human Rights Channel last fall, she express a great admiration for her father’s fight and announced her willingness to continue in his footpath in spite the fact that she would endanger the safety of her little child, husband mother and sisters. Yet the family are aware of the venture at stake for keeping up this battle against the government but nevertheless they strongly support Zainab and Abdulhadi no matter what the costs. Zainab apparently still keeps up a good spirit from inside the prison despite of the abuse and consolidated her mother by saying:

”Mom, everything has a price to be paid and this is the price we are paying. If I want my father to be free we have to be patient and if we want democracy for the people of Bahrain we have to be patient.”

By: Linn Andersson,
Jesus Alcantara Landa,
Danira Milosevic
& Angela Guitierrez Moreno


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