Family of activist kept in dark over Bahraini trial

The family of a prominent Bahraini human rights activist has been denied access to the military court where he is being tried fro crimes against the state.

Abdel Hadi al-Khawaja, a prominent Bahraini human rights activist, center, holds a hunger strike earlier this year.
Powered by automated translation

MANAMA // A prominent Bahraini human rights activist went on military trial yesterday and his family was denied access to the court, his daughters said.

Bahrain saw the worst violence since the 1990s in the past two months when protesters, mostly from the country's Shiite majority, began demonstrating. The protests have prompted Bahrain's king to impose martial law and bring in forces from a GCC coalition made up of Saudi soldiers and UAE police.

Abdulhadi al Khawaja was arrested with two sons-in-law earlier this month as part of a government crackdown enforced with checkpoints across the city.

Hundreds of people, many of them opposition activists and politicians, have been arrested. The government says only those accused of committing crimes have been arrested and that all accusations will be investigated.

"The trial against him [Mr Khawaja] started today but we family members were not allowed to enter the court. I don't know what charges are brought against him," his daughter Zainab al Khawaja said.

"My father called last night. He didn't sound fine. I think he has a mouth injury because he could barely speak," she said.

"He kept saying oppression is great," said Ms al Khawaja, who yesterday stopped a week-long hunger strike to demand her family members' release.

Mr al Khawaja, who lived in exile for 12 years before he was allowed to return, was severely beaten upon his arrest, the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights said.

A rolling crackdown has targeted Bahrainis who took part in weeks of street protests demanding more freedoms, an end to discrimination and a constitutional monarchy in the country.

* Reuters