Update: 03 Oct 2012

Activist Zainab AlKhawaja has been released Wed 03 Oct 2012. However, she will have to return to court on Thursday, just one day after her release, to face charges of "illegal assembly" that date back to February when she participated in protests commemorating the one-year anniversary of the 2011 uprising.
2 Oct 2012 The Bahrain Center for Human Rights and undersigned NGOs expresses grave concern regarding the continued detention as well as ill-treatment of human rights activist Zainab AlKhawaja. BCHR believes that the silence over the continued judicial harassment and detention of the activist is leading to more serious violations and an urgent action is required to put an end to these violations.
On 02 Oct 2012, activist Zainab Alkhawaja completed 2 months imprisonment sentence on the ridicules charges of “tearing a photo of the king of Bahrain”[1] and she was expected to be released. However, she was moved to the Isa Town police station where she was accused of another charge and an order of detention was issued against her, even before hearing her statement. Her new accusation is “insulting the king” by “ripping a photo of the king” (another photo) and the case is dated 6 May 2012 although it was on-hold throughout the past 5 months. Her lawyer was informed that there are 3 more new cases against her. She is to be sent to the public prosecution tomorrow.
Moreover, BCHR has received information that activist Alkhawaja was subject to ill-treatment and beating while in the police station and after her lawyer left. In a phone call to her mother, Alkhawaja said that despite being on a fast, she was forced to sit at the police station without food or water from 1 pm to 7pm (fasting break at around 5:40pm). When she started walking around because she got tired of sitting, a female officer told her to sit down. When Alkhawaja sat next to a domestic worker who had a young child who appeared to be Alkhawaja’s daughter’s age, and spoke to the woman, policewoman Basma Alhajeri attacked Alkhawaja verbally. She told her to stop speaking to the other woman, that the other woman is more honourable than her, and continued to verbally assault Alkhawaja in reference to her honour. She then told Alkhawaja to go into the room next door. Alkhawaja refused saying she should be moved when she will be taken to the police station. The male officer at the station then ordered that she be taken prison, and as soon as Zainab started to walk she noticed the male officer signalling to officer Basma Alhajeri, who proceeded to physically attack Alkhawaja, with no regard to Zainabs injured leg. She knocked Alkhawaja to the ground and continuously kicked and punched her, while verbally assaulting her as well. She then dragged her to the police jeep, and continued to verbally assault her during the drive to the police station where Zainab will be held overnight.
Activist Zainab Alkhawaja is detained since 2 Aug 2012 after staging a one-woman protest on Al Qadam roundabout. She has been injured earlier in her leg when security forces shot her intentionally with a tear gas canister at close range, resulting in the injury, refer to bahrainrights.org/en/node/5354. She has been denied access to her specialized doctor since then. According to BCHR’s last information, Zainab was facing up to 13 cases, 8 of them at court and the other 5 were on-hold at the public prosecution[2].
On 26 Sep 2012, the information affairs authority of Bahrain published a press release[3] in which it stated that Alkhawaja will not be released and is still detained “for other more serious charges”. It’s very unusual that the media agency will know about detention order before the defendant and her lawyers, and the fact that the detention order has been issued before even hearing the statement of the accused only confirms the exploitation of the legal procedures for retaliation against the activist and to keep her behind bars for a longer period.
BCHR believes that the only reason for targeting Zainab Al-Khawaja with imprisonment on the alleged charges is to prevent her from continuing her legitimate and peaceful human rights activism. BCHR also express concern that the international silence over the continued detention and judicial harassment against activist Zainab AlKhawaja is leading to more violations against her including the recent ill-treatment she was subjected to.
The BCHR calls on the US administration as well as other governments that have influence in Bahrain including the UK government, the EU and the leading human rights organizations to: 1- Call for the immediate release of human rights activist Zainab Al-Khawaja as well as all other detained human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience in Bahrain. 2- Increase the pressure on the Government of Bahrain to stop the on-going daily human rights violations as well as the escalated attacks against human rights defenders. 3- To put pressure on the Government of Bahrain to guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Bahrain are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals, and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.


Bahrain Center for Human Rights Gulf Center for Human Rights Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights

[1] Urgent appeal: Further details regarding the ill-treatment of Nabeel Rajab and Zainab Al-Khawaja in prison of Bahrain [2] List of cases against Zainab [3] iaa.bh