A Danish-Bahraini human rights activist has been sentenced to life in prison for criticising the Bahraini regime and its ruler, King Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa.
Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, 50, who was given Danish nationality after being granted asylum in 1991, was arrested with dozens of other pro-democracy demonstrators on 8th April. He is charged with encouraging unrest between Shia and Sunni Muslims, offending the king and taking part in illegal demonstrations.
According to reports, al-Khawaja – who is one of Bahrain’s best-known activists and has been dubbed the country’s “Gandhi” – has been physically and sexually abused during his remand in prison. When he was sentenced to life at a court hearing on Wednesday 22nd June, he declared that the Bahraini people would continue to fight for democracy, before being dragged from the courtroom.
Lene Espersen, the Danish foreign minister, complained that they have not been allowed access to al-Khawaja. “I am extremely unhappy that the promise I got from Bahrain’s foreign affairs minister, that we could get access to him in prison, still hasn’t been met,” she said.