Beirut, 09 February, 2012 --- Courageous defender of human rights and the main founder of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, announced from jaw prison, on Wednesday, 8 February, 2012, that he begins an indefinite hunger strike. The distinguished human rights defender told his family in a telephone call, that he is starting a hunger strike to "freedom or death."

On 22, June, 2011, Human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja has been sentenced by the National Safety Court -a militarry court- to a life imprisonment . On 29 January 2012, human rights defender Abdulhadi Al- Khawaja and 13 other prisoners, including human rights defender Abduljalil Al- Singace and prominent activists, started a hunger strike to protest against their imprisonment and demanding respect for people's human and civil rights in Bahrain.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights urges the authorities in Bahrain to:

1. Immediately and unconditionally free human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, and the other 13 activists, and drop all the charges against them.

2. Carry out an independent, thorough and impartial investigation into the reported torture and ill-treatment of defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, with a view to identifying those who are responsible, and bringing them to justice;

3. Ensure that all human rights defenders in Bahrain, carrying out their legitimate work in the defence work of human rights, are able to operate free of restrictions and reprisals.

For more information, please contact:

Bahrain: Nabeel Rajab (Arabic and English) +973-396-333-99

Lebanon: Khalid Ibrahim (Arabic and English) +961-701-595-52

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights is an independent centre and has been registered in Ireland. The Centre works to strengthen support for human rights defenders and independent journalists in Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.