Al-Khawaja to continue hunger strike

Imprisoned Bahraini-Danish activist, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, has vowed to continue his hunger strike despite the promise of a retrial. Mr al- Khawaja, who has been starving himself since February 8 in protest against a life sentence he received last year for allegedly plotting against the state, is being held at a military hospital in Bahrain.

Speaking to the BBC in a rare interview, the activist claimed he is being treated well, “except for the force-feeding”. His wife also says he has been fed with tubes while strapped to a bad, but this allegation has been denied by officials.

After mounting international pressure, the highest court in Bahrain ruled on Monday, May 1, that al-Khawja and 20 other activists will be retried. They have all taken part in peaceful protests calling better rights for the country’s majority Shia Muslims.

However, al-Khawaja’s wife, Khadija al-Moussawi, said the decision to overturn her husband’s original life sentence and try him again in a civilian rather than a military court is “ridiculous”. “They are playing for time and should have transferred his case to a civilian court at the first hearing not the third,” she told the BBC.

Their daughter, Maryam, also confirmed that her father would continue with his hunger strike, claiming he wants “freedom or death”, not a retrial.

Last month, the Supreme Judicial Council in Bahrain refused a request by the Danish ambassador to transfer the activist to Denmark on humanitarian grounds. Mr Al-Khawaja was given Danish citizenship in the 1990s while living there in exile.